Black Jaguar, Green Jade
By Sylvia Andrews
Published by Sylvan Arts Press ISBN 9781463755546r
This book was supplied to me by the publisher after my request via Review the Book in return for the promise of a fair and honest review.
Black Jaguar, Green Jade is that heartbreaking thing, a book that is almost good. It has extremely good factors in it: strong and believable characters including, in several cases such as the heroine Maya MacLeod, psi abilities of great power and versatility; a believable plot with all too believable subplots that avoid clichés that often disfigure such stories; and incredibly realistic atmosphere, complete with photographs and drawings scattered all through the book. Most of the dialog and narrative is believable. Things that might be difficult to understand are footnoted, neatly and succinctly.
Set against all that is a careless final proofreading which left incorrect punctuation and at times maddeningly incorrect words in place. And those things yank the reader out of the story and back into reality. They murder the atmosphere and they do away with the willing suspension of disbelief that is essential to make fiction work.
I got stuck in the middle of the review, because I was so disappointed and so depressed for the writer’s sake, because she had worked so hard and done such good work, only to allow it to be ruined by minor errors that could and should have been corrected.
I have taught writing in four universities in two states. I rejoice when I see someone turn into a writer. I remember one student in a correspondence school for which I also taught. When she began the first course she took from me, I thought, “How sad, she has such good ideas and she’s never going to be able to write the book.” But she persevered. She took a grammar course; she took an advanced fiction writing course; and by the time she finished the last course she took from me, I was thinking she had a possible National Book Award on her hands. I felt I could have hung the moon, I was so happy for her.
It breaks my heart to see someone start out with all the advantages that student didn’t have, and then lose it over petty things that anybody could fix. That’s what happened to Black Jaguar, Green Jade.
I enjoyed all the good things about the book. But I would love to see the author yank the book back and fix the bad things. Then she would have a real winner.
Anne Wingate, author of Scene of the Crime as well as many other works of fiction and nonfiction