Book reviews, musings and waffle from a British lit addict

Blurbs: A bit of a rant…

I’m currently blighted by a rather unpleasant cold – in the way that makes me utterly unpleasant to be around (what with all the tissues in tow and coughing and all..) but not incapacitated enough to exempt me from life in general. SO when my lovely but distracting boyfriend was away last night for work, I grasped the opportunity to so remove myself temporarily from the world and curled up in a pit of my own germs (usually known as my bed – excuse the vile imagery!) and read a book….

I won a copy of ‘The Last Key’ by Rob Steiner last month and, at over 700 pages, I was saving it until I had some more time to really get into it so this seemed like a good time. As I usually do before I jump in, I read through the blurb to get myself in the “zone” (gosh, that sounds very 90s!). In the first sentence of said blurb we have this line:

“After the death of……., Raven finds himself….”

It’s really the first part that my irritation is directed at, hence me not: a) including the line itself and thereby inflicting annoyance on other potential readers, and; b) typing out the rest of it. If a blurb mentions a death, I assume we’re talking the first couple of chapter type deaths BUT:

After 200 pages, this character was still going strong.

After 300 pages, there was a huge battle and I was steeling myself…but no! Still alive.

I’m now over 400 pages into the book and the character’s STILL THERE! As it happens, I like this character a lot and it’s not like I’m willing him to die but why put it in the blurb when it doesn’t happen for at least half of the book. Why not just write the end on there too and have done with it? How much is too much? Spoiling the first half of a book, definitely too much…

Rather than getting fully engrossed, I feel like I’m waiting for a proverbial bomb to go off and it’s kind of spoiling it for me. Every time there’s even a sniff of a bad event, I’m thinking, “Right, this is it..” and when it’s not I’m just annoyed that the blurb has spoiled yet another moment for me with needless preoccupation!

Has anyone else experienced this terrible publishing tactic/blunder?! Or am I the only person in the world that even bothers to read blurbs, thereby inviting this on myself?

Aaaand, breathe…or sniffle, if you’re me…rant over…


  • I've had similar experiences. I can't think of a specific example at the moment, but I do know that there have been times that I've thought to myself after reading the entire book, "Did the blurb-writer actually read the same book that the printer put between these covers?"

  • Red

    I can't think of the instance I had that experience with a blurb, but that was how much of my reading of The Book Thief went. Death would tell you something bad was going to happen and then every time something remotely dangerous happened I'd freak out. It was stressful.

  • Bev: Good to know I'm not alone in this quandry! Another example I remember from earlier this year was about Sarah Waters' 'The Little Stranger' – it was billed as the scariest, creepiest, most gothic book EVER and was, I hate to say it, very lack-lustre so I agree with you – do they even read the books?!

    Red: I agree with you re 'The Book Thief' – I think that feeling is enhanced even more by the fact that it is dealing with the Holocaust – I'm always wary for the inevitable tragedy in such books and it is stressful!