My Most Disappointing/Unenjoyable Reads of the Past Few Years

This list will most likely be a strange one for a lot of people reading this. Mostly because, each and every one on here has a big fan following and, for some reason, I just couldn’t get on with it. I’ll do what I did for my most loved books post by posting the cover, the blurb and a little bit as to why I didn’t like it. Unlike my other post, I shall not be posting covers of the whole series as, I’m sure you can imagine, book one was where I ended things if a series followed it.

All of these were listened to as audio books, so I grabbed the covers from audible.

 

Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke:

Genre: Historical Fiction

For me, this will easily go down as one of the most boring books I ever read. I found myself excited after reading the blurb which committed the crime of promising excitement and delivering only tedium. For the entire 32 hour audio book I felt like nothing happened other than my developing a willpower to stay awake that even a god could not match.

Jonathan Strange

The year is 1806. Centuries have passed since practical magicians faded into the nation’s past. But scholars of this glorious history discover that one remains: the reclusive Mr Norrell, whose displays of magic send a thrill through the country. Proceeding to London, he raises a beautiful woman from the dead and summons an army of ghostly ships to terrify the French. Yet the cautious, fussy Norrell is challenged by the emergence of another magician: the brilliant novice Jonathan Strange. Young, handsome and daring, Strange is the very antithesis of Norrell.

So begins a dangerous battle between these two great men which overwhelms that between England and France. And their own obsessions and secret dabblings with the dark arts are going to cause more trouble than they can imagine.

 

The Gunslinger by Stephen King:

Genre: Fantasy

I was going through my Stephen King phase and got so excited to see he had a long-running series out there. That excitement died very early on and I didn’t even manage to get through half the book before giving up (back when I DNF’d things). I just felt like the author was writing as though the reader had an intimate knowledge of the character and world as a whole right out of the gates. I did not and so found it hard to follow and just didn’t bother trying.

gunslinger

In this first novel in his epic fantasy masterpiece, Stephen King introduces listeners to one of his most enigmatic heroes, Roland of Gilead, the Last Gunslinger. He is a haunting figure, a loner, on a spellbinding journey into good and evil, in a desolate world which frighteningly echoes our own.

In his first step towards the powerful and mysterious Dark Tower, Roland encounters an alluring woman named Alice, begins a friendship with Jake, a kid from New York, and faces an agonising choice between damnation and salvation as he pursues the Man in Black.

 

Twelve Kings by Bradley Beaulieu:

Genre: Fantasy

I remember thinking I’d really enjoy this one, actually starting to and then … that’s as far as my enjoyment went. I finished it and still didn’t really feel anything for it. It just felt average and, no matter how vivid the writing was or how good a scene was, I just never felt much for it. Maybe I was just going through a phase? Or maybe it was just never destined to tug on my interest. Whatever the reason, I left feeling as though I neither enjoyed nor disliked it. To me, it was like it never happened.

Twelve Kings

In the cramped west end of Sharakhai, the Amber Jewel of the Desert, Çeda fights in the pits to scrape a living. She, like so many in the city, pray for the downfall of the cruel, immortal Kings of Sharakhai, but she’s never been able to do anything about it. This all changes when she goes out on the night of Beht Zha’ir, the holy night when all are forbidden from walking the streets. It’s the night that the asirim, the powerful yet wretched creatures that protect the Kings from all who would stand against them, wander the city and take tribute.

It is then that one of the asirim, a pitiful creature who wears a golden crown, stops Çeda and whispers long forgotten words into her ear. Çeda has heard those words before, in a book left to her by her mother, and it is through that one peculiar link that she begins to find hidden riddles left by her mother.

As Çeda begins to unlock the mysteries of that fateful night, she realizes that the very origin of the asirim and the dark bargain the Kings made with the gods of the desert to secure them may be the very key she needs to throw off the iron grip the Kings have had over Sharakhai. And yet the Kings are no fools – they’ve ruled the Shangazi for 400 years for good reason, and they have not been idle.

As Çeda digs into their past, and the Kings come closer and closer to unmasking her, Çeda must decide if she’s ready to face them once and for all.

 

American Gods by Neil Gaiman:

Genre: Fantasy

This is another novel I feel promised far more than it delivered. It was enjoyable, but large portions of it felt so drawn out and as though they were simply there to pad the word count out. It had some great characters (I’ll always love the two in the mortuary home) but it just had such blandness to it that, considering there was also a lot of good in there, simply should not have been. Also, my main gripe is that it was building up to some huge prize fight and everything should have gone off with such a bang! But … all we got was a whimper. Probably one of the more underwhelming endings I have come across (And I have read A LOT of Stephen King, so that’s saying something).

American Gods

If you are to survive, you must believe.

Shadow Moon has served his time. But hours before his release from prison, his beloved wife is killed in a freak accident. Dazed, he boards a plane home where he meets the enigmatic Mr Wednesday, who professes both to know Shadow and to be king of America.

Together they embark on a profoundly strange road trip across the USA, encountering a kaleidoscopic cast of characters along the way. Yet all around them a storm threatens to break.

The war has already begun, an epic struggle for the very soul of America, and Shadow is standing squarely in its path.

 

Salem’s Lot by Stephen King:

Genre: Horror

I described this in my review as ‘enjoyable but average’. I also mentioned how, King of Horror though he may be, he certainly is no king where vampire stories are concerned. It felt like a jumbled mess where too much was happening at any one time and finished off with an ending that gave the reader zero pay off. Reading a King novel is like flipping a coin. You either get awesome everything or mostly great with a terrible ending. For me, this one landed on it’s side, so it had very little of either.

Salem's Lot

Turn off the television – in fact, why don’t you turn off all the lights except for the one over your favourite chair? – and we’ll talk about vampires here in the dim. I think I can make you believe in them.

Stephen King, from the introduction. Salem’s Lot is a small New England town with the usual quota of gossips, drinkers, weirdos and respectable folk. Of course there are tales of strange happenings – but not more than in any other town its size.

Ben Mears, a moderately successful writer, returns to the Lot to write a novel based on his early years, and to exorcise the terrors that have haunted him since childhood. The event he witnessed in the house now rented by a new resident. A newcomer with a strange allure. A man who causes Ben some unease as things start to happen: a child disappears, a dog is brutally killed – nothing unusual, except the list starts to grow.

Soon surprise will turn to bewilderment, bewilderment to confusion and finally to terror….

 

The Necronomicon by H. P. Lovecraft:

Genre: Horror

This is one of those books that, if you’re a fan of horror, you HAVE to read. No matter how many good or bad reviews you here, you need to read it. It’s like a right of passage. Personally, I thought it was terrible. The writing is dry and uninteresting. Lovecraft has the pace of a snail where his writing is concerned (and not even an excitable snail). He did, however, have a great mind filled with great ideas. He just did not have the skill to put them down dynamically on paper. In fact, I’d go as far as saying his slow pace negates any horror/creepy feel you may otherwise have gotten from these truly wonderful ideas. That being said, there will be stories in there for everyone, but I find it hard to believe that many folk will think everyone was even half-decent.

necronomicon

Originally written for the pulp magazines of the 1920s and ’30s, H. P. Lovecraft’s astonishing tales blend elements of horror, science fiction, and cosmic terror that are as powerful today as they were when first published. This tome brings together all of Lovecraft’s harrowing stories, including the complete Cthulhu Mythos cycle, just the way they were when first released. It will introduce a whole new generation of readers to Lovecraft’s fiction, as well as attract those fans who want all his work in a single, definitive volume.

 

The Priory of the Orange Tree by Samantha Shannon

Genre: Fantasy

This one is easily, for me any way, the most over-hyped, boring novel I have ever worked through. The only parts I felt were fairly decent were near the end and that was mostly for the revelations to certain characters I enjoyed, not the battles or the main story. I just felt hard to get any sense of feeling or attachment to many of the characters. In fact, one of the main characters was so thoroughly unlikeable that I found it hard to believe Shannon was trying to push him as a good guy. I’m glad I read it because of how many people were talking about it and how awesome it sounded. If I hadn’t read it, I’d always be wondering what I was missing. In my case, the answer was ‘not much’.

priory of the orange tree

A world divided.
A queendom without an heir.
An ancient enemy awakens.

The House of Berethnet has ruled Inys for a thousand years. Still unwed, Queen Sabran the Ninth must conceive a daughter to protect her realm from destruction – but assassins are getting closer to her door.

Ead Duryan is an outsider at court. Though she has risen to the position of lady-in-waiting, she is loyal to a hidden society of mages. Ead keeps a watchful eye on Sabran, secretly protecting her with forbidden magic.

Across the dark sea, Tané has trained to be a dragonrider since she was a child but is forced to make a choice that could see her life unravel. Meanwhile, the divided East and West refuse to parley, and forces of chaos are rising from their sleep.

 

70 thoughts on “My Most Disappointing/Unenjoyable Reads of the Past Few Years

  1. So upsetting to see Priory on here. I think it’s overhyped but I still enjoyed it but each to their own

    I feel the same way about Gunslinger. I made it halfway through book 3 however before I couldn’t take it anymore

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I had no pirate interest. I was all about the dragons. I think that’s how I am though. Just obsessed with dragons especially having the lore based more on the Eastern variant

        Liked by 1 person

      2. So I’m slowly working my way through Robin Hobb and not going to lie. Getting to the dragon books is what’s keeping me going. My I retest in dragons was really peaked during the Assassin’s Quest

        I’m keeping alright. Days are up and down. My anxiety is really heightened at the moment so I only leave the house once a week which I know is unhealthy for me but I just can’t face the panic attacks.

        How about yourself?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Ahh, sorry to hear you suffer with anxiety. If ever you need someone to talk to other than those in your everyday life, my ears are always open 🙂

        I live alone and am surprisingly finding that I’ve not got bored yet. Finished my novel and begun sending it out to agents. So keeping my fingers crossed.

        Fitz is a whole lot of misery, isn’t he? I loved all of her books in that universe. Not started the last book yet as then it will truly be over.

        Like

      1. Well first of all I absolutely loved the two main characters and how persnickety and kooky they were. I loved how they hated each other and had to work together. I loved the portrayal of the fae and that they were alien and not just magical pretty humans. I thought the writing was beautiful and the world just felt so real. It had awesome footnotes. I also loved how magic was theoretical and a bunch of old men argued so passionately about the subject. I have to admit that the details are fuzzy because it has been 10 years but it be on the list to reread. I have a short story collection to read by her this year and she has a new book coming out. I be excited.
        x The Captain

        Liked by 1 person

  2. I’ve heard some great things about American Gods, so I’m surprised to see it on the list. Then again, I’ve made it no secret that I’ve experienced plenty of acclaimed films and games that dropped the ball, so I totally get where you’re coming from.

    I think I heard somewhere that the Dark Tower series is kind of a rollercoaster ride in terms of quality.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Man, I am totally with you on Strange & Norrell. And I LIKE Charles Dickens, so I thought I would have no problem with it. Boy, was I wrong.

    The first book of the Dark Tower also killed my interest, and from what I heard from my blogger friends, the final book was a kick in the jewels so I was glad I avoided that fate. I did enjoy Salem’s Lot though. I like King’s prose in general though so long and rambly usually works.

    American Gods put me off of Gaiman for ever. Well, except the movie Coraline 😀 I still really like that!

    Lovecraft did have some EXCELLENT ideas. I really prefer reading other authors who use his ideas, as eldrich horrors that flay the mind should be exciting, not boring 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yea, I have read so much Christie, Conan-Doyle, Verne etc … so expected to like Strange and Norrell.

      Totally agree, Lovrcraft’s great gift to the world was not his writing, but the ideas that so many have made so brilliant.

      There’s a podcast called ‘The Whisperer in Darkness. Has two season so far and I loved it. Its doing Lovecraftian mythos right.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. I love Gaiman, but I’m not a fan of American Gods.
    I started reading the Dark Tower when I was sixteen, and it took me two tries to get through The Gunslinger, with a lot of encouragement from a friend who kept telling me it got a lot better. It did…until it didn’t. I’m glad I read it, but the last two books were…disappointing, to say the least.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I reeeaally did not like the Gunslinger (though I did kinda enjoy the movie). Thought Stephen King just wasn’t my thing tho. But I recently read the institute, and although it was far from great, I did like it enough. So Im guessing its mainly the gunslinger that I disliked.

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  6. Hahhaaaa, I pushed through the whole Gunslinger series and I was so miserable the hole time. Thought it would pick up and then the ending was just a big f*ck off! I regret reading it and nowadays quit if it the book don’t feel like it will get any better. Love so many other of Stephen Kings book thoughQ

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I have read the first 3 books in the Gunslinger series I think. I totally understand you DNFing the first book. I pushed through because I was reading it with a group of people and I ended up giving it 3 stars. Like not a whole lot happened but I was still interested in knowing what was next. I was still into the story enough to want to continue on but I burnt out on king so I took a break. Maybe I will pick back up with it sometime.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Pretty sure that I have a copy of Twelve Kings somewhere, maybe even the sequel too.😂 Never felt like picking them up.

    I think that I gave up on Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell due to the excessive footnotes and finding it a nightmare to read on the Kindle.

    Quite surprised that The Court of Broken Knives isn’t on the list as I remember you hating it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nooooo, I knew I forgot one. In my defence, I did an excellent job of repressing that bookish memory.

      I’m reading a non-fiction book on kindle … footnotes were not made for the e-reader 😂

      I listened to the audio book version which is actually quite good for footnotes. You don’t even realise they’re happening. So much so that, when listening to the Nevernight Chronicles I wasn’t even aware it had footnotes until Kristoff started taking the piss out of himself for it.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. So, I abandoned Gods and Orange Tree pretty early on. The Gunslinger I think I made it to his first dream sequence. That said, 12 Kings is one of my favorite books ever, so…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It was starting to feel like I was the only one who didn’t get on with Priory.

      12 kings was the only book on this list that I didn’t think was overly bad. Could have just been me going through a fantasy slump.

      Like

  10. Oh man! The first four are books on my TBR I’m looking forward to. I started chuckling after a while because I started to think that maybe all the books on your list will be ones I want to read. I’ll lower my expectations a bit when I start on those four.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I wouldn’t lower them too drastically. I’m starting to think that if a book gets a lot of hype then I enjoy it less, almost like its destined not to reach the level its been built up to. As I mentioned, most of these are insanely popular, so their authors must be doing something right.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. Wow, so of my favourites are on that list 😀 Lovecraft, although it’s bound to disappoint someone looking for more typical horror, Gaiman – that is my favourite Gaiman novel! and Clarke…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I did say the list was littered with popular ones 🙈

      I just expected a more dynamic story from Lovecraft and Clarke (however there were a handful of Lovecraft stories I enjoyed, A Shadow over Innsmouth and The Colour Out of Space for example.)

      American Gods made this list mostly for the lacklustre ending after it was built up to some glorious battle :/ other than that, I enjoyed it for the most part.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. American Gods, though, I enjoyed – though I agree the ending was anticlimatic. It’s Gaiman’s main trait, I guess justly evening out his absolutely amazing imagination 😛

    Salem’s Lot was just horrible and put me off King for good.
    As for the rest, I think I’ll steer clear of them! 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  13. I can totally understand the reasons why you couldn’t enjoy American Gods and The Dark Tower! I gave both of them 3 stars, in the end, myself (I think). I felt like there was a lot left for us to guess but they were still pretty well written though.

    I am now even more curious for Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell though. I wonder if I’ll feel the same as you! 😮

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I’ve only recently started reading Stephen King and I have discovered that I either love his books or I either hate it. I was going to try out Salem’s lot but I think after this I might put it on hold for a little bit. I did not finish the Priory of the orange tree. My patience wore out super soon.

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  15. I’ve liked what I heard in audiobook form of Lovecraft’s stuff, though I’ve only heard a few of the stories: the really famous one “Call of Cthulhu” (?) and a couple of others. I remember liking them, though they do have that slow pace, which I don’t have any problem with — it feels like that older style of writing, in which the author could go on with a bunch of description for five pages and I guess the editors were okay with that. But then Moby-Dick is one of my favorites too and I know people who hate it for the same reasons, so maybe I’m just nuts.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. From what I heard he found it really hard to get published back in the day. His style wasn’t much appreciated back then. I could be wrong here, but I read Lovecraft’s fans set up a publishing house to essentially keep him in print. Can’t say I’m not jealous. I’d love dedicated fans like that haha

      Liked by 1 person

  16. I couldn’t get on with Strange and Norrell at all. It was back in the days when I insisted on trudging through books I didn’t like – but I absolutely LOVED the TV series. So I’m busy avoiding the latest book available on Netgalley as I don’t enjoy writing negative reviews. I don’t read much Stephen King, but I’ve never found anything of Gaiman has enthused me. I have the Shannon book on my TBR, so I’ll be intrigued to see if I get on with it:)). A thoroughly interesting article, by the way!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you 🙂

      I never bothered with the Strange and Norrell tv series. I watch so little tv that I didn’t want to risk wasting my time. I hope its a bit more exciting than the book.

      So many people loved Priory of the Orange Tree. I was just a part of the minority that felt trudging through it was one of life’s great pains.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If you have a chance to see the TV series, I highly recommend it, because the premise is brilliant and the problems with pacing and my inability to bond or care about any of the characters didn’t happen. It’s a gem.

        I look forward to reading The Priory of the Orange Tree and discover whether once again, our views line up:).

        Liked by 1 person

  17. Hi! Nice to meet you! (I got here via Sarah’s tweet)
    I takes courage to talk about disappointing books, especially when they already have a devoted following. I couldn’t get into American Gods either, but in general, I seem not to be a target for Gaiman’s books (which is sad since he’s such a great person). I’ve heard a lot about the Priory, but you seem to confirm my fears – that like every overhyped book it’s prone to fall short of expectations.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, nice to meet you, too 🙂

      I really struggled with American Gods and its nice to know I’m not the only one. One good thing about writing a post like this is seeing that you’re not the only one that doesn’t enjoy these best sellers 🙂

      I seem to be in a vast minority who did not enjoy The Priory of the Orange Tree. One blogger I followed absolutely adored it. So it may be worth trying. You may find more love for it than I did.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s true about finding others who follow your minority tastes.
        And usually I find myself on the disappointed end of the hyped books, so I guess I might be similar to you in that regard. In recent years, I’ve been very picky about books I enjoy, and none of the widely advertised SFF so far seems to hit my tastes.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I know that feeling. I recently started a series of posts (only one so far but more to come) spotlighting independent publishers. I’ve been buying books by indie publishers a lot more recently. Makes a nice change to feel like you’ve found a hidden gem

        Liked by 1 person

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