Sunday, July 18, 2010

Gotta Love Kirkus

I spent a big chunk of the weekend cleaning up files on my computer and organizing material for updates to my websites. In the process I ran across a Kirkus review of What Remains of Heaven that I'd never seen before. It's vintage Kirdus at their snarkyest best, and it made me laugh out loud. Here it is, for your pleasure:

What Remains of Heaven, by C.S. Harris
Review by Kirkus Book Review
"Who killed the cleric in the crypt? When the 1812 renovations to St. Margaret's, Tanfield Hill, accidentally bash a hole through the sealed entry to its crypt, there are two ghastly surprises. The dead body of Bishop Prescott, staunch abolitionist and leading contender for the soon-to-be-vacated post of Archbishop of Canterbury, lies sprawled across yet another dead body, this one partially mummified with a jeweled, Italianate dagger in its back. Bow Street, recognizing a matter too delicate for its own clumsy hands, calls upon Sebastian St. Cyr, Viscount Devlin (Where Serpents Sleep, 2008, etc.). Within the compass of a few short weeks the aristocratic sleuth is shot at, horsewhipped, attacked with a meat cleaver, half-drowned and forced to kill three men himself. Undeterred, he accepts the responsibilities of fatherhood that have been impending ever since his reckless night with stubborn feminist Hero Jarvis, whose father had good reason to want Prescott dead; uncovers enough illegitimacies to keep the Town atwitter for generations; suspects both his father and Hero's of treason in aid of the colonies; and finds time to visit a prescient nanny-turned-witch who has secrets to impart about his own parentage. The mystery includes a smattering of political and church intrigue among a welter of family ties so intricate that a scorecard might have helped."

Kirkus almost disappeared late last year, but was rescued at the last hour. Most writers hate Kirkus, but they've given me some great reviews in the past and the fact that they're known to be parsimonious with their praise makes it all the more valuable when it comes.


Steve Malley said...

Maybe I'm wired wrong, but that review would be enough to send me out a-buying! :-D

Pax Deux said...

As someone who is fond of Kirkus and your books, I would describe that review as positive, with a dose of good-humored teasing.

A curiosity about writing process -- do complete historical research for your books (eg. death of Percival, death of Tennyson's aunt) completely before writing, or as you go along?

Charles Gramlich said...

Definitely snarky, but kind of entertaning.

Lainey said...

The Kirkus reviewer read every word of What Remains of Heaven and remembered the plot twists and turns from earlier books in the St. Cyr series. That says a lot.

orannia said...

I'm with Steve :) I haven't come across Kirkus before...interesting review style ;)

cs harris said...

Steve, that's good to hear!

Pax Deux, I've heard people say it's better to do research after the book is plotted, but I prefer to do most of my research up front, because I find so many of my ideas actually come out of my reading.

Charles, the writer certainly has a sense of humor.

Lainey, good point!

Orannia, they can be brutal.

Anonymous said...

Snarky, but in this reader's opinion, the Kirkus reviewer actually has been paying attention during his or her reading. The same can't be said for a number of other reviewers. I personally found the review by Library Journal for HEAVEN to be worthy to be included under my list of what-the-heck, though I like Heyer. Recently, I encountered a review for SERPENTS, in which the reviewer summarized events from previous books, including the fact that the Earl of Hendon threatened Kat with a traitor's death if she didn't stop seeing Sebastian. Another reviewer was bothered by the fact that Sebastian only realized in MERMAIDS that he and Kat had the same eye color. Of course there is a chance that I haven't been paying enough attention myself and might have missed some of the subtleties. ;)

cs harris said...

Anon, yes, I sometimes find myself screaming, "Oy, please pay attention if you're going to write a review!" That business about the eye color is funny, given that PW recently complained that I stressed it too much. Can't win for losing!

Barbara Martin said...

I'm with Steve on going out and buying this based on the review. I thought it was rather well done and actually promoted your work, Candy.

cs harris said...

Barbara, that's interesting. I thought it made the book sound over the top! It wasn't until I saw all those attacks on Sebastian listed together that I realized he really got it in that book. And the reviewer didn't even include the climax fight.