The opposite of last week’s question: “What’s the best ‘worst’ book you’ve ever read — the one you like despite some negative reviews or features?”
That would probably be my obsession with really cheesy fantasy - of the Mercedes Lackey or Anne Bishop variety.
While I've never seen a negative review of either author, I assume they're out there. After all, they're pure fluff, wish fulfillment fantasy. Talking horses and sympathetic magical undead. Rife with Mary Sue-like characters. And yet, so rich and enticing - Anne Bishop's Dark Jewels books are like dark chocolate: bold, rich, and luxurious. Sure, they're violent, people get rent from limb to limb and frequently in even smaller pieces. One of the main characters is an assassin. Another is known for the number of dead bodies left in his wake. And still a third is undead, requiring blood to remain
alive well, functional.
Lackey's books are hardly any more substantial. Personal problems get resolved - as do large political ones - within a neat three-book series. The horses - who are really spirits of those who have gone before and just couldn't resist the urge to meddle - talk. No-one appears to find this unusual in any way. There's also a whole set of talking cats, but far fewer, and geographically off in another country, so less dramatic.
If that's not bad enough, we get to cozy re-tellings of traditional fairy tales, where the heroine does at least half of her own rescue with the help of newly discovered magical powers - and still ends up with the prince by the end of the tale. I love these books, though, because Lackey has a very feminist bent on them - the women are strong and capable and if they need saving, it's as much because no-one can go it alone when facing evil witches as because there has to be a reason for the hero to become involved in the story.
My absolute favorites, though, are the 100 Kingdoms tales, starting with "The Fairy Godmother". No-one's ever asked before, in my hearing, at least, what happens to all of the fairy tales that go wrong? What happens when the nearest prince to Cinderella is still a child? Or a Princess? I love twisted fairy tales, so these books are right up my alley.