This was an advanced reader copy for the August 2018 publication. There are minor spoilers ahead.
Title: Ernestine, Catastrophe Queen
Author: Merrill Wyatt
Marketing Effort: 3 (average)
When you compare your heroine to Ramona, Matilda, and Harriet the Spy, I expect a main character with a strong and creative personality. With Matilda and Harriet in the mix, I also expect the majority of adults to be incompetent, overindulging, or just plain cruel.
I can’t argue that Ernestine doesn’t have a strong personality. She’s cunning, creative, and stubborn. However, from her zombie summoning in the first chapter to a child abuse reveal which actually undermines the mother-daughter relationship, Ernestine suffers from a poorly constructed plot. And descriptions that’ll have you raising a brow.
As the book is an ARC, there were spelling mistakes. It was actually refreshing to see. No galley is ever perfect, but indie and small press writers like myself often look at the final, shiny copies of the Top Tier like something out of Mean Girls. In reality, they have a lot of hard-working editors reviewing and re-reviewing manuscripts.
It’s my opinion that if this book takes off, all credit ought to go to the marketing/publicity team. Ernestine is a generally interesting character surrounded by mediocre (if not outright groan-worthy) plot devices, stereotypes, and forehead-slapping Scooby Doo moments. Oh, and some just shit parenting.