My Trickster by Seraphima Bogomolova Review 1/5

Overall Impression: A disorganised and confused narrative that was unfortunately impossible My Tricksterfor me to follow.

I was intrigued by the idea of My Trickster, I had never read anything with a Russian setting before and the blurb seemed mysterious. I wasn’t sure which genre the book was going to be, romance, thriller or adventure so I was interested to get started. Unfortunately my hopeful interest for the book soon faded and by the end of the third chapter I was wincing.
Ohh dear, ohh dear… this is the first one star review I have done on my blog and I do not do it lightly. I tried so hard to get into this book, I kept waiting for it to get better but it just didn’t and I struggled to finish it.
My Trickster was kindly offered to me in exchange for an author interview, book giveaway and an honest review.

When enigmatic Angela Moreaux, a woman he thought he had exorcised from his brain, calls and asks for his help, reluctant, but unable to resist, a hedge fund owner and an expert in stock market manipulation, Juan MacBride flies out to Moscow. On his arrival a bitter disappointment awaits him as he finds out that Angela fails to show up for their meeting in the Ritz. Instead, Juan is greeted by an elderly Swiss gentleman, who passes a mysterious note to him embarking Juan on a journey of discoveries that he wishes he never made…

My main problem with this novel is that I was utterly confused from start to finish and I have never really encountered this before. I couldn’t expand on the blurb because I have mostly no clue what went on in any detail, which probably sounds weird. I never thought it was possible to have a novel too fast paced, but this is the case with My Trickster. It has a weird structure that reminded me more of a TV show. You have the main chapters and then within those small subsections, each of these lasts on average a page and a half, sometimes less. It conjured the image in my head of a director saying ‘annnddd scene’ every five seconds which was quite annoying. Before I could understand what was going on in one scene or get my bearings it had moved onto the next. There is such minimal amounts of description in terms of setting that it is completely disorientating the majority of the time. There were so many scenes where I was just baffled and in the end I gave up trying to work it out. It shouldn’t be that hard for a reader to understand what is going on, and if it is, you know you have a serious problem.

I was equally confused by some of the characters, I didn’t get on with the leading lady, La. She didn’t seem to care about any of the people around her, least of all Juan who she supposedly had a complex and messy past with. Her only noticeable feature seemed to be that every man she met was instantly attracted to her. This is not a flaw on its own, there are many characters like this in literature but you have to give the reader a reason to believe it. If she had ridiculously good looks or a flair for flirting and an impressive knack for manipulation it would work, but none of this comes across in the prose, which may just be an issue of practice.
In comparison, I was quite interested in Juan’s character and the mystery of why he was willing to risk his life for a past lover he hadn’t seen in years. I was curious to know what had happened and why they had parted on what seemed to be such negative terms and this kept me reading. I think the main issue I had with the characters didn’t actually stem from them but the layout of the book. My Trickster would often switch perspectives – a cool idea but unfortunately they were not sign posted well enough and I kept getting confused as to who was speaking – I often thought it was one character and then right at the end of the section found out it was a different one, and this made it hard for me to get to grips with them and their individual personalities.

What’s most frustrating about this book though is that the writing has some real potential, but there are so many other issues with clarity and basic writing rules that it gets lost in translation. The author is great at putting a seductive edge on scenes for instance and her writing really flows well, but at the end of the day if you can’t follow the storyline it kind of becomes mute. Personally there was one particular aspect that grated on me, see if you can spot it:

“Stop! If you want to help me then help me! I am here to share only the information that matters! The rest’s none of your fucking business!”
“Well then why are you so protective of Kazimir? According to Pavel he’s a very bad guy tied up in all kinds of scams. Scams that lead to murder!”
“Perhaps he is, but I honestly don’t believe he did it! I have a good reason for thinking so… Trust me on this!”
“La…” Pavel begins.
“No, Pavel! You’re barking up the wrong tree!”
“La, to rule out Kazimir…” Pavel tries again.
“That is enough!” La says and marches out of the room. “Give me a damn chance will you!” Pavel shouts after her.

Anyone else notice the excessive use of exclamation marks? I don’t know about you, but it instantly drew my eye. Most speech in the book was like this which to me, suggests the author needs to pick up a few more writing books because I have only ever read two, and both of them mention that exclamation marks should be used sparingly. Here’s the thing, if you need to use that many of them even during a characters fight it shows that your prose are not working hard enough to show your characters anger. The last line ‘Give me a damn chance will you! Pavel shouts’ – is a good example because the reader has already been told they are shouting, so the exclamation mark is pretty pointless. Simple little mistakes like this mean My Trickster reads more like a first draft than a finished novel.

I wouldn’t recommend this book but if you are looking for something a little different with a Russian setting then this one might be for you if you are female and 16+. I would like to say thank you to the author for giving me the opportunity to read her book and I’m just sorry I couldn’t give it a more positive review.

Writing Style: 1/5
Originality: 2/5
Entertainment: 1/5
Character Development: 1/5
Would I recommend this book? No.

Overall 1/5

Image Sources:
Book Cover: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13631915-my-trickster

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22 thoughts on “My Trickster by Seraphima Bogomolova Review 1/5

  1. Oh dear. If this book really was as bad as you make it out to be, then I congratulate you on finishing it. If it were me, I probably would have given up. The blurb doesn’t sound too appealing to be honest either. Don’t think I’ll be picking this one up… But I enjoyed reading your review nonetheless!

    • Ohh dear indeed. I must admit, if it hadn’t been exchanged for a review I wouldn’t have finished it and would probably have given up within the first third of the book.
      Haha no I wouldn’t recommend it, I’m glad you enjoyed the review anyway!

    • I agree it confused me too, I had to read it several times before I got the gist of it.

      Haha yeah I am but that mostly stems from the fact that I didn’t understand the story well enough to dig my claws into anything specific and rant about it! If that makes sense…? I’d be careful what you say though Michael, the next book up on my author indie pile is Underneath by Michael Cargil. 😉

  2. Ouch, that review must have hurt! I remember a rule of thumb is “use only one exclamation mark per story. Then go back and take it out.” I do break it myself, but then, that’s YA for you, and I don’t used them to that extent. I was wincing over the flat dialogue in that extract as well.

    • Errr, yeah it was. :S I’ve never had to write a 1 star review on here before, it was difficult but I tried to make it constructive otherwise it’s not that useful.
      I don’t think I’ve heard it put that way before but that sounds like something Stephen King would say with his adverbs, lol. But I agree, I use exclamation marks a lot replying to comments but I always try to ban them from my main writing unless necessary. Ah, yes YA is a bit more acceptable because everything is more melodramatic.
      I’m glad it wasn’t just me!

  3. The dialogue excerpt feels like something that would be on a television, not in a book; I have to admit that was the first thing that jumped out at me. But yikes, this one sounds tough. I’ve had to dodge a similar bullet recently, but at least I was able to get out of it because it was for a publication and the editor and I both agreed that it wouldn’t be a good idea to go through with the book in question. It’s a shame, because Russian setting is cool, but the blurb tells me nothing of what the book’s about, and is really vague in what to expect. This sounds like it was a tough read, so kudos for getting through it!

    • I’m glad you picked up on that too because I felt the same way, it does have that strange sort of feel about it and the weird short subsections only reinforced that. Yepp, it definitely was tough to write. Ohh really? That’s interesting and very lucky that the publisher had similar thoughts to you, otherwise that would have been tough! I always feel that if you don’t write a review honestly then there is no point in writing it.
      Yeah a real shame, I was looking forward to some cool descriptions because of the setting. Thanks Maggie. 🙂

  4. I always feel guilty when I have to give a negative review so I know what you are feeling, but I firmly believe that you wouldn’t be helping the author to improve at her craft if you weren’t honest. I am editing a book right now written by an author whose first language is not English, and it has been particularly painful because there are multiple errors on every page. The story has potential, but I am so afraid that she will be upset when she sees all of the changes I have made. Oh well, I have to do what I have to do, just like you did :).

    • Thanks Cindy I’m glad you understand, I think I really needed to hear that. 🙂 I feel exactly the same but I often worry that others won’t see it that way. I tried to make my comments as constructive as possible so that they could be helpful.

      Oooh yeah that’s a tough one, I didn’t realise you did editing as well. I think the author of My Trickster was in fact Russian, so I wonder if it was her first language and therefore had an impact on the book. Hmm…
      I’m sure if you explain the reasons for the red marks being mostly because of her language then the author will take it ok, once they sit down and think about it. It’s always hard to see your work critiqued but you can’t usually see your own work clearly so it’s useful! I’m sure the author will be glad of all your hard work. 🙂

  5. ah man, bummer! I am super impressed that you finished the whole thing.
    I just picked up an Agatha Christie book and it has sooo many exclamation points I feel weird reading it. a style thing from the time?

    • Bummer indeed! Thanks, I must admit it was a real struggle. Ohh really, how strange! I guess it must be because they definitely wouldn’t allow that these days in publishing. I think that would bug me. 😛 I’ve never read an Agatha Christie, I wonder if all her books are like it!

  6. The exclamation marks were the first thing that I noticed too.

    That’s a real disappointment, it always makes me sad when you have high expectations for a book and they’re ruined. I think the worst for me was James Joyce’s The Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man. It’s considered the 3rd most loved book of all time, James Joyce is meant to be a phenomenal writer, but like you, I just couldn’t get into it. He kept veering off topic, literally to the subconscious, for pages at a time, so that I had no idea about the main plot line (if there was even supposed to be one). I guess it just depends on whether you like that style of writing perhaps.

    • Yeah it definitely jumps out at you because there’s just too many of them.

      It was, I just wish I could have given the author a better review but I have to be honest otherwise there would be no point. It is always hard when you come across a bad book you were looking forward to.
      Ohhh really? I’ve never even heard of the book, shame on me! I’m sorry to hear you didn’t like it although sometimes, especially with classics I wonder if people just say they like it because they are supposed to and it’s prestigious rather than because they actually like it. Yeah you’re right, hopefully someone else will be able to enjoy this book more than I did!

      Thanks for commenting. 🙂

      • Yeah, it definitely makes it hard when you know the person, but at the end of the day if you lied you’re not doing your job properly and they don’t have opportunity to grow.

        Haha! You make a very good point. I think a lot of people read certain books to look a certain way.

  7. Wow….is all I can say. I’ve been subject to using exclamation marks more than I should. This is a very thorough and well thought out review. It’s such a shame that the book turned out so poorly. I was curious though… since you’re such a thorough reviewer and an experienced blogger, would you take a look at the first page of a novel I completed when you get the chance? It’s @ http://dreamersspirit.wordpress.com/. Please let me know what you think. I will continue to follow your reviews and see if I can take some advice from them to improve my writing. Also do you happen to know of other bloggers that could help me with my novel as well? Sorry for all the requests and thank you in advance!

    • Wow in a good way I hope? Lol. It was indeed, I wish I could have given it a better review.

      Sure, I’ll stop by and take a look at it when I have the time and see if there’s anything I can suggest. 🙂 I’m definitely no expert but I do know a few things.

      Thanks for the compliments and good luck with your writing!

      • Oh I meant wow in a good way. You do a very thorough analysis of the book. How you find the time is beyond me. I was kinda sad that a book could turn out so poorly though. Made me think more about my writing and how I can improve it. Please keep posting more reviews. I look forward to them.

      • Haha, with difficultly, it’s hard to juggle real life with blogging but if you love it enough you make the time.
        Me too, I guess that’s one of the problems with self publishing, some sites offer it for free and you aren’t required to have the content looked at or anything like that so the quality can vary a lot.
        Will do!

        P.S. Have you read Stephen King’s One Writing book? I reviewed it here: https://beckysblogs.wordpress.com/2013/03/23/on-writing-a-memoir-of-the-craft-by-stephen-king-review-55/ and in my unsolicited opinion I think it’s a must reading for anyone who wants to write books! It has a lot of great tips and I was blown away.

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