I believe in the power of editing. I think one of the most important things for a story is to be paired with a solid editor. There are several new and popular stories that could have been classics...if only they were in the hands of an editor for any (longer) period of time (certain Heroes and Vampires come to mind). Instead, they were rushed through the process because they were destined to be "hits" and instead of being classic literature, they were relegated to faddish, pop fiction.
I also think that no matter if it is your first book or your fifty-seventh, if you have a great editor, the quality will be high.
Such is the case with "The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere" (Book One). I was astonished, upon finishing it, to discover it was the author's first novel. The quality of the work was much higher than most beginner novels.
There were other things going for it, of course: I was hooked from page one. (Although, again, that could have something to do with the editing) The thing that really stuck out to me, however, was the villain's monologue.
Most villain monologues are old hat by now -- I am here to destroy the world, yaddah, yaddah, yaddah...only you stand in my way, blah, blah, blah...the typical "I-am-so-powerful-until-you-stick-me-through-with-a-sword" nonsense.
THIS villain's monologue was BRILLIANT and made me think about my favorite villain monologues -- the ones that really ring true and hit home and make you more aware of what's going on.
A few key components:
1. Knowledge of the (heroic) main character's desires
2. Temptation (in order to gain said desires)
3. Intimate conversation (which makes the first two creepier, personal, and harder to say no to -- true colors come out when no one else is around to watch)
Way back in the garden of Eden, the greatest villain knew Eve's curiosity would get the better of her, and so he tempted her with fulfilling her own desires. Clever.
In The Shadows: The Books of Elsewhere, the confrontation between heroine and villain is intimate and scary as HECK because the villain draws out the feelings the heroine never knew were there. The dawning realization of her personal issue tied up with her desire and the villian's plan is incredible.
I loved this book with every fiber of my being. I was thrilled to find out there will be five volumes to complete the series, and the third will be coming out around my birthday this year!
Again -- I really think a great editor had something to do with how great this book was -- the author, of course, put in most of the work crafting the story, but the editor tightened it up so that it was pretty much flawless.
Have you ever read a book that thrilled you all the way down to your toes? What is your favorite villain/hero moment in a book? Got any recommendations for me?