Owner, designer and main blogger behind Rabid Reads. I also offer virtual assistance to authors and web maintenance services. rabidreads.ca
One of the things I love most about reading speculative fiction is that almost anything is possible; a man can turn into a wolf, power isn’t measured by one’s size, time travel exists, and eternity takes on a whole new meaning when immortality is on the table. However, there are a few steadfast rules that shouldn’t be broken in my opinion; I’m not saying that I’ll quit a series entirely if an author does the unthinkable, although I have been known to do so on occasion, but I will give the book a lower rating. My main no-no’s are:
Death Is Forever: Unless a human is being turned into a vampire, ghoul, or zombie, once they stop breathing it should be permanent. George R. R. Martin aside, writers need to think long and hard before offing one of their babies whether it be a protagonist, villain or secondary except if the character is going to be a ghost for the remainder of the series. This brings me to my next point…
Ghosts & Romance Don’t Mix: I’m all for the intermingling of supes when it comes to couples, but spirit is an entirely different state of being. They are incorporeal, so even if they have the sickest poltergeist powers ever the fact remains that they aren’t part of the physical world which means that the only way that a specter love interest can end well is if either A) They get revived (see previous deal breaker) or B) Their mate takes a dirt nap. Option two can’t really be considered a HEA, so very few authors are willing to go that route.
There Is No Cure: Whether a character is born a supe or made into one, doesn’t really matter in the long run; however what does matter is that it’s a do not pass go, do not collect $200 type deal. Lycanthropy, vampirism, witchery—you name it—is for life. It’s a condition, a disease, or whatever you want to call it that is irreversible, like diabetes. It can be controlled, and sometimes even suppressed, but there is no antidote. A zombie can’t undie, a wizard can’t vaporize the magic in his blood, and Fae cannot become average Joe’s. Period.
Magic Cause & Effect: Like the physical world, magic systems need to have strict rules and boundaries that are non-negotiable, otherwise dudes like Gandalf could do ANYTHING, and how boring would Fantasy be without epic quests? Just wave a wand, and POOF, end of story. Also, there needs to be a cost to hocus pocus whether it be physical pain, blood sacrifice, or going dark. It’s one of nature’s basic rules: for every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
What Are Your SFF Deal Breakers?
Have a bookish question you’d like Rabid Reads to weigh-in on? E-mail me, and be sure you include your blog URL (if you have one), so we can give you credit!