Review: Unwanted Things and Other Whatnots

Unwanted Things and Other Whatnots - Tamera Rickman

DNF @ 43% This has one of those blurbs that makes me think, "Yeah, but what is it about?


According to the information on Amazon this is a Middle Grade. Perhaps some MG readers might like it. It's Fantasy, in a general sense. Basic plot - girl finds herself mysteriously transported to a strange place.


In this case she does so with her mother's grumpy cat, who very much dislikes her. Oddly some of the narrative comes from the cat's perspective. Which I found a bit annoying, but after a while I enjoyed more than what we were getting with the MC. At the beginning it's the cat that goes adventuring.


The MC, Abigail, cries repeatedly, and it gets really tedious. Abigail has very little personality. She either just goes along, or she breaks into tears. A couple of times she does take action to help herself and others, but she has very little backbone at all and she goes through the story more like a leaf in the wind than a flesh and blood character.


One problem with this story is that nothing is fleshed out well, explained or described at the beginning. So, we're left with a lot of questions, and things that don't make a whole lot of sense.  We're not told how old the MC is. I have no idea if she's 8 or a very sheltered and whimpy 18.  I don't know what she looks like, or what she's wearing. Worldbuilding is nonexistent.


About the 25% mark the story does get more interesting though.  The cat, Miss Kitty, becomes the better character and is actually quite funny and entertaining.


The first sentence does not inspire confidence:


'Abigail froze in her, her arm still extended outward toward the door.'


Um. Yeah. I'm calling that an editing failure. I did notice a few other editing errors, but they seemed fairly few.


Another thing that bothered me is that some of the narration is told in stanzas. It's annoying, and is the kind of thing you really only see in picture books. It's too childish for the story, and it's oddly thrown in here and there. And random words are put in quotation marks, both within dialog and within narration.


Right off the bat Abigail is harassed by some young toughs.One of them says, “Who? Abigail the Unwanted! That’s who!”


I glare at the book title. What a coincidence! Hit the reader over the head, why don't you? Why do they say this to her? We aren't told. But I do think I can guess, we readers need to be told she's "unwanted". Personally, I think there are much, much better ways to do this. Preferably by being shown, not told. And definitely not being smacked with it in such obviously contrived way. Besides, it's a very lame insult.


Abigail enters a shop where she is to pick up some things for her mother. The shopkeeper says,


'“May I help you?” He loomed over her, talking down.

“Is my mother’s stuff ready?”'


And then after snatching the list out of her hands he goes ballistic for no apparent reason, '"Of course not!" He yelled at her.“Tell your mother it will be ready in an hour, and I don’t want you hanging out in here. You hear me? I don’t want you stealing my wares. I know you don’t got no money of your own!” Spittle shot through his yellowed teeth as he shooed her out the door and onto the street.'


Okaaaaaaaaaaaaay. That's a bit...over the top. Seems to me he could be shown to be not very nice, and insist she wait outside without going from "May I help you?" to blowing a gasket in 30 seconds for no apparent reason. It's also clear that her mother and her sister are awful to her, a la Cinderella, but we're given no explanation as to why.


There's a clocktower in town, and we're told no other timepieces are allowed. " watches on chains, no house clocks, no wristwatches, nothing." Why? No idea.


The only clue as to time/place so far is the mention of wristwatches and her mother and sister driving off in a car. Beyond that I have no idea where/when this is.


Overall, give this one a skip. There are much, much better MG Fantasies out there. Love the cover.