Considering that book reviews are usually about the newest and latest, it may be odd to point to some of our favorites. But if you want to know how to write a review, or if you just want to know what we at Reflection’s Edge tried to do with them, the examples below show some of our most interesting approaches. You’ll notice that Romie Stott wrote most of them; as our original Associate Editor, her remarkably creative style, as well as her impressive genre knowledge, became the hallmarks of our reviews.
As our founding byline stated, we wanted to be a magazine for thoughtful readers and writers; people who would be interested not just in storytelling, but also in the stories behind the stories. In these reviews, we tried to shed some light not just on the book itself, but on its place in the genre.
Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell, reviewed by Romie Stott.
Robert E. Howard’s The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard, reviewed by Ciro Faienza
Walter Van Tilburg Clark’s The Ox-Bow Incident, reviewed by Ciro Faienza.
H.P. Lovecraft and August Derleth’s The Watchers Out of Time, reviewed by Romie Stott
Book reviews are never really about the thumbs up or down; the point is to unfold what might be useful insights to the reader. Reviews of bad material are tough because “useful insights” are too easy to turn into snark, and critical reviews of less-than-Tolstoy material can quickly undermine even genuinely delightful books, much less weak ones. Besides, bitter reviews are even less fun to read than they are to write. For those types of books, we learned to opt for a more playful review style.
John Conviser’s Echelon, reviewed by Romie Stott
Gail Carriger’s Soulless, reviewed by Romie Stott.
Andrea Savitch’s Envy of the Gods: If the Reward Were Right, reviewed by Romie Stott
When you’re very lucky as a book reviewer, you’ll find a truly fantastic book—whether by pure chance, or because you hunted down the opportunity. Relaying that to the reader, however, can be strangely difficult: enthusiasm without sounding childish, and adoration while maintaining some small level of objectivity, are not easy sells. These reviews walk that line.
Samuel R. Delany’s Stars in My Pocket Like Grains of Sand, reviewed by Ciro Faienza
Elizabeth Bear’s Scardown, reviewed by Romie Stott
Catherynne M. Valente’s Yume No Hon: The Book of Dreams, reviewed by JoSelle Vanderhooft
Stephen King’s Carrie, reviewed by Romie Stott
Susie Bright’s Best American Erotica 2007, reviewed by Mathilde Madden
For our full collection of book reviews, go here.