I have such conflicted feelings about Herbs & Homecomings by H. C. de Cossy. This book was suggested to me via Audible, and the cover was gorgeous. I read the blurb (below), and thought “yeah, that one should be decent.”

Former Potions Master-in-training Elizabeth Grace Sloan left the paranormal world–and her magic–behind more than twenty years ago to go off and see the mortal world. She married a mortal and had two wonderful children. Now, her firefighter husband is dead, killed in a tragic housefire when the ceiling collapsed on top of him. With nothing left to tie her to the mortal world, Elizabeth packs up her kids and moves home to the paranormal sanctuary town of Fairweather Falls, where the magic, the family, and the love she left behind wait for her still.

The problems started sort of right out of the gate, for me. There’s only a passing mention of her husband, her children (raised mortal) are just sort of fine with pixies showing up and moving into the new house in Fairweather Falls (even the teenaged boy is just going along with his new ability and magical teachers showing up, which… c’mon, man)… And then there’s the issue with the dialogue.

At first I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but once I realized I was annoyed every time one of the characters spoke I started to really try and nail it down and discovered the dialogue was too grammatically perfect. No one uses contractions. The characters say out loud things that would normally be an internal monologue, etc.

And then there’s the fact that at about ⅓ of the way through the book I was genuinely not sure whether this was meant to be a middle grade book, or was just an author’s first novel that wasn’t quite hitting the adult fiction sweet spot. I landed on classifying it as adult because the main character is an adult.

Given that, prior to my entry, this book only had one review on Goodreads, this lackluster read was probably as much my fault as the author’s in that I was totally and completely swayed by a good title and a gorgeous book cover.

The part of this negative review I feel the worst about is that I genuinely think the author had an idea and plot line that could have been a good one. I just think this book needed an editor’s firm hand to help tighten things up, fix the clunky dialogue, and do some general tweaks to the flow of the book. There’s promise here, but the final product just didn’t do it for me. I hemmed and hawed about it, and ended up giving it a two star rating on Goodreads, which was honestly probably a little bit generous. I admit I didn’t finish this one – I may at some point go ahead and see how it ends up, but for now I’m moving on to my next read. Sometimes, the struggle is real.

When do you DNF (did not finish) a book, give up, and move on? Or are you the type of reader who pushes through, regardless? Tell me about your DNF stance in the comments below!

Photo of cottage by Bernard Spragg on StockSnap


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