Book Review – The Betrayal (City of the Gods Book 2) by S. J. McMillan

First published, 2014

⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Technically, I’d give this 2.5 stars.

In The Betrayal, Kat and her friends continue their search for the High Priest, whom they must defeat in order to save their civilisation. We follow Vivian, the witch, as she desperately seeks out ingredients for a spell to save her brother from the memories and personality-invasion of the accursed Damian, and get to know an excellent new character called Marcus, a warrior and hunter of witches and warlocks.

As a reviewer, I’m often asked which is more irritating – a good story with weak writing, or good writing with a weak story. I think this is one of those questions that we all have an opinion on. I tend to say that a good story will rise above lacklustre writing where even the most skilful author’s voice will struggle with an empty narrative.

In this, the second instalment of the City of the Gods series, we have an excellent story, which I really enjoyed – some terrific characters, old and new, and some great suspense. The writing, however, is not good.

There are missing words, for example, ‘to’ and ‘the’ have been left out of – I suspect rapidly-read sentences, a number of missing apostrophes, misspellings (‘shown’ for ‘shone’, ‘weights’ for ‘weighs’, ‘dumfounded’ for ‘dumbfounded’, ‘drug’ for ‘dragged’, ‘causalities’ for ‘casualties’ and ‘obliviously’ for ‘obviously’) and a startling overuse of some words – back, door, potion, and hands seeming to be most popular. It was frustrating to read the phrase ‘crossed his/her arms over his/her chest’ and ‘folded his/her arms over his/her chest’ for the thirtieth time. Yes, I’m pathetic. I counted. And when the warlock first made his appearance he was referred to as ‘the warlock’ so often, the words lost all meaning. Ditto ‘the prisoner’, ditto ‘the foreigner’.

A great story which, unfortunately reads like a first draft.