@RayneHall: Negative Book Reviews to Keep you Laughing

Intro to Rayne Hall’s Funny Negative Book Reviews

After the success of my downloads last weekend, I knew that since I would be opening up my book to thousands of new readers – there was bound to be a negative book review in there somewhere. Well, it happened on Sunday (click here if you want to read it - you can’t please everyone as my mama says).

But, I couldn’t help but be offended! As many times as you tell yourself that you won’t take it personally, and that you won’t let it affect you – well, it did! Until a few hours later when I got an INCREDIBLE one that took the sting off. A few hours later, I saw a tweet that went out: 

So, I responded! This would be perfect for my blog – I needed a good chuckle. She hit the nail on the head – my bad book review came from someone who hadn’t even read the entire book. Rayne’s notes on some of the bad reviews of the classics (like Wuthering Heights) below are simply hysterical.

Rayne Hall’s Funny Book Reviews

Rayne Hall writes subtle horror and outrageous fantasy fiction. She is the author of thirty books in different genres and under different pen names, published by twelve publishers in six countries, translated into several languages. Her short stories have been published in many magazines, e-zines and anthologies. Currently, she tries to regain the rights to her out-of-print books so she can republish them as e-books.

After living in Germany, China, Mongolia and Nepal, she has settled in a small Victorian seaside town in southern England.

I love it when readers who enjoyed my books post positive reviews on Amazon, Goodreads and elsewhere – but negative reviews can be even more fun.

Here’s a selection of my favourites I’ve received over the years:

Storm Dancer (dark epic fantasy novel)
“This book is too long. I had to spend many hours reading it. I’m busy and have other things to do.”

“The character of Queen Matilda is not believable” There’s no Queen Matilda in the book.

“Animal lovers: Do not buy this book! They don’t just sacrifice humans, but horses as well.”

“The women in this story are not as obedient as the Bible says women were in those days.”

“The book didn’t end how I thought it would.”


Bites: Ten Tales Of Vampires (short story anthology)

“The vampires in this book aren’t like Edward Cullen. Most of them totally creep me out.”

“I could have written a vampire story as good as any in this book if the editor had asked me.”

Daughters Of The Dragon (non-fiction)
“How dare this author write about women in China? I checked her credentials: she does not have a degree in sinology.”

Living & Working In Britain (non-fiction)

“I’ve spent three weeks in that country. Trust me, it’s not at all like this.”  The author lives in that country.

“If I had time, I’d dash off a book like this myself.”

Living & Working In Germany (non-fiction)

“This is not how I imagine Germany to be.”

“Clearly, the author has never met a real German”  The author is a real German.

How To Be A Freelance Journalist (non-fiction)

“I don’t want to do all this work. I just want to be a journalist.”

Writing Fight Scenes (non-fiction)

“I skipped the first twenty chapters because there was nothing of interest in them. I wanted to know how to structure a fight scene and the book doesn’t show that.” Chapter 3 is titled “Structure”.

Six Scary Tales Vol. 1

“What a rip-off! This book contains only six stories!”

Since some of these reviews were written many years ago and I no longer have access to them, I’ve quoted them from memory. The precise wording may have been different.

The Classics: Bad Book Reviews

Negative reviews from someone who clearly doesn’t get it can be annoying – but they can also be a source of hilarity.

I’ve browsed some review sites and found these disdainful comments for famous classics:

Pride And Prejudice (by Jane Austen)

“I found the story incredibly dated.” It was published in 1813.

“This is stupid. Why don’t those girls simply get a job?”

Wuthering Heights (by Emily Bronte)

“There is also animal cruelty, and most of the characters die off at an early age.”

“The book is not as good as the movie.”

Dracula (by Bram Stoker)

“The character of the count is a stereotyped kind of vampire you’ve already seen in two dozen movies.”  Stoker’s Count Dracula is the original from which the stereotype evolved.

Grapes Of Wrath (by John Steinbeck)

“What should I care about those people’s problems? I have enough problems of my own.”

Bleak House (by Charles Dickens)

“I’m on page 300 and there is no end in sight.”

Which of these reviews do you find funniest?

If you’re a writer, have you ever received a funny negative review?

30 thoughts on “@RayneHall: Negative Book Reviews to Keep you Laughing

  1. These were all good (I especially liked the comments about Bram Stoker’s Dracula), but I particularly liked “This book is too long. I had to spend many hours reading it. I’m busy and have other things to do.”

    This made me want to read the book.

    • LOL. I loved the “this book is too long” review too. Strangely, it has been deleted (either by Amazon or by the reviewer, I don’t know). 
      It’s funny how people read classics of literature without realising that those preceded modern works – like the comment about Dracula being the same stereotype as the movies, or Pride and Prejudice being dated, or (my personal favourite) Wuthering Heights not being as good as the movie.

      • That drives me crazy when people don’t realize that the classics came first! Definitely a pet peeve – there was a time before movies and tv!

      • If you told certain people that there was a time before movies and tv, they would probably ask why Jane Austen, Bram Stoker and Emily Bronte don’t update their novels now.

      • Reminds me of the spoof reject letters they do at the back of the Writers Digest magazine. Some of the “rejections” of famous classics are hilarious.

      • That drives me crazy when people don’t realize that the classics came first! Definitely a pet peeve – there was a time before movies and tv!

  2. I love it when people say they could have written an equally good, if not better, book. Then get off your arses and give it a try!

  3. Thank you for sharing, Rayne!  This was a good laugh.  These are all funny and ridiculous comments.  The Grapes of Wrath review esp. make me laugh.  And the Six Scary Stories comment about the book only having six stories, LOL!  BTW, I’m reading Vol. II now and I’m loving it!

    • Great, Lisa! Which is your favourite story in Six Scary Tales Vol II? 
      The complaint that Six Scary Tales contains only six stories is my favourite negative review ever. I’m still wondering how the reviewer can have not realised that Six Tales means six stories. The blurb listed the stories contained in the book, so even if someone missed the title, they should have seen the number from the blurb. That’s what I thought, anyway – but readers don’t always perceive things the way we see them. :-D

  4. Hi Rayne!  Great article.  I was particularly amused by the “creepy vampire” comment on Ten Tales of Vampires and the “where’s the structure” comment on Writing Fight Scenes. Having read and reviewed both of these *awesome* books, those comments had me LOL.

    • Hi Celia, 
      Yes, when we’re familiar with the books, the comments can be even funnier. I actually agree with the reviewer that the vampires in “Bites” are not like Edward Cullen. They’re not meant to be. And if they creep the reviewer out, that’s good too. The authors who contributed to the anthology all took this complaint as a compliment. :-)
      Unfortunately, there seems to be a technical problem at Amazon, and several reviews have disappeared, including this one. Hopefully this glitch will be fixed and the reviews will come back. I’d be sad to loose the “they creep me out” review forever.

  5. OMG, I just got a 1 star review of the teaser at the end of my story.  The person missed the story all together and only read the teaser for the next story, which the publisher had stuck at the end.  The person wrote “Don’t see hoe (sic) this is erotica.”  I think the person was intoxicated when he/she wrote the review.

    • This is so frustrating when readers write reviews without properly reading the book. I remember the first time this happened to me, many years ago. The review was published in a magazine – the kind of magazine which actually paid reviewers for their review! Unfortunately, this reviewer must have hated the assignment,because she clearly read only the first and last chapters of the book, and based her review on those. She complained that the content of the last chapter did not make sense. Ahem, it wouldn’t without the thirty chapters in between. 
      At the time, I was very upset about this. But then I talked to other authors and discovered that all of them had had reviews by reviewers who reviewed without reading the books, and I felt better. 

  6. You’re always going to get someone to complain about too much sex in their erotic romance, too much gore in their zombie horror, or too many unanswered questions in their murder mystery.

    • True. And the other way round as well. I had someone complain about not enough sex in Storm Dancer (which is not an erotic romance). That reviewer was very specific about what s/he wanted (explicit BDSM action) and was frustrated that the novel did not deliver this.  Hmm. Nowhere in the book description did it say there would be BDSM sex. I wonder where that expectation came from.

      • The people who complain about unanswered questions in a murder mystery (or about loose threads not tied up at the end of any book in any genre) are the same people who say they skipped whole chapters as not worth reading. Of course for them the questions remained unanswered. 

  7. Hoo-ha-ha! These are priceless! Okay, my fav negative comment is that the book is too short. Um, it’s labeled Novella or Short Story. It’s supposed to be short. I try to take it as a compliment, that the reader wants more of my great writing! Still, I don’t like losing points for shortness. Great post, thanks for letting me vent.

    • Wow, someone bought a short story of yours and expected a novel-length work? I remember in the early days of e-books, there was some confusion when authors published short stories as e-books and readers expected full-length books. It was understandable if a reader was disappointed then. But nowadays, all e-book retail sites give an indication of the book’s length (e.g. an estimated page count), and if  you’ve labelled it Novella or Short Story, this reviewer had to be exceptionally thick. 
      True, it’s a compliment that the reader wanted more of your writing. Or maybe s/he is one of those people who don’t actually care about the quality of what they read, they just care about the quantity of words?

  8. Omg, hilarious. I love the ‘too long, too many hours to read’ one. The books must ‘ve been enthralling to keep his attention, lol.
    Thank God for readers and reviewers. They can be fodder for material and a not to the heart…the good ones.

  9. Usually I see bad reviews as a change for me to better myself, but I´d have to admit that some of these reviews would be quite difficult to use as leverage for such a venture. Staggering to see how people can read a classic and not notice that the stereotypes we see in modern literature was actually derived from that very classic! That one really nailed it for me…!

  10. My favorite 1 star review on one of my books is for “The Emo Bunny that Should”:

    “it sucks

    i hope that bunny is emo so it can stab itself to death”

    I later received this review from a reader who took offense to the first review:

    “SO CUUUTE!!!!!! LOVE EMO BUNNIES!!!!!!!!

    book is adorable! I absolutely loved it! And f*ck u people who don’t
    like it! Especially the person who said the bunny should stab himself!”

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