Of Ratings and Romance

Way back in the spring, before I had even finished edits, a lovely user on Goodreads gave Moth and Spark one star.  The Goodreads people told me that sometimes readers used that as a way to mark books they wanted to read.  I griped, and I notice now that they have a “Want to Read” button (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16239655-moth-and-spark). That one star review is still sitting out there by itself, though.

Anyway, no one seems able to figure out what genre it goes in. (Unsurprisingly, since they haven’t read it….)  I’ve seen it listed with paranormal romances and as similar to romantic family sagas, which is just silly.  People who want a steamy bodice-ripper will be disappointed, as will people who want lots of gory swordfights.  It’s a pretty standard epic fantasy with love story, but it seems to have an appeal to people who do not read fantasy, and men are really liking the love story (which is why it sold to Viking and not to a fantasy imprint — cross-over appeal), which surprised the heck out of me. The two epigraphs I used should convey some sense of how romance and fantasy action fit in:


At midnight on the Emperor’s pavement flit

Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,

Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,

Where blood-begotten spirits come

And all complexities of fury leave,

Dying into a dance,

An agony of trance,

An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

–W.B. Yeats, “Byzantium”


The fact is, that you were sick of civility, of deference, of officious attention. You were disgusted with the women who were always speaking, and looking, and thinking for your approbation alone. I roused, and interested you, because I was so unlike them

–Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice   


In short, the heroine is totally based on Elizabeth Bennett, and I hope that the fantasy elements capture some of the strangeness and beauty of the above stanza by Mr. Yeats.  (The entire poem is great, and should not be confused with the more well-known “Sailing to Byzantium.”)