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Arm Farm

Arm Farm - Sarah Butland 2.5*

After walking in from school to find her mothers lifeless body covered in blood and then being told her father had also been butchered in their family home, seven year old Natalie’s life is set on a new course. She grows up with an interest in forensic science, not consciously with the aim of solving her parents still open murder, but more so she could help other victims and their families by getting answers. Natalie’s natural skills were noticed by her professors and she was given the opportunity to attend an out of state forensic conference, this made headlines and soon after Natalie found herself as the victim of a stalker.

I wasn’t very impressed with the cover art for this book. It wasn’t eye catching, the colours are pale and the cartoon like drawing coupled with the strange title are quite misleading. I think to get this book noticed on the market it definitely needs a new front cover, one that will make it stand out from the crowd because when choosing a book buyers are initially attracted by the front cover.

The story is quite intriguing, I like the idea of it and think with quite a bit of work this could be a very good book. Punctuation and grammar are not an issue, there was nothing in those areas that jumped out at me as being a problem but the overall writing needs to be addressed.

1) The dialogue is contrived and not very realistic:- There is quite a lot of dialogue in this book but none of it sounds natural, conversations aren’t written in a way that you could ‘hear’ the people saying them, it was as if the characters were reading from a script and they were very poor actors.

2) The sentences were stilted:- There was no flow to the writing, it became frustrating to read because it was so unnatural and wooden. Some sentences were so stuffy and structured in such an odd way that I felt like I was reading something written in the 1800’s!

3) Vocabulary :- We are treated to some ‘big’ words i.e. smorgasbord for one (surely ‘varied buffet’ would have sufficed) yet the author made the very common error of writing ‘blood splatter analysis’ instead of ‘blood spatter analysis’ (which is one of my pet hate mistakes) yet it wasn’t picked up by her pre-published readers or ‘editor?’

I don’t want it to seem as if I am really down on this book because as I said earlier I found the idea very interesting, this is where a good editor comes in. As well correcting grammatical errors an editor picks out unrealistic areas of the plot and can reconstruct sentences to aid readability. A good edit and a new front cover would dramatically improve this books saleability and I think it is something the author should seriously consider.

Copy supplied for review