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If you could name one thing in common with all your favourite books, it would probably be that they all have an excellent premise. Perhaps it is a new twist on an old genre, a unique location, or a fascinating character. It is the thing which made you choose the book over thousands of others on the shelves.

But like me, you might have frequently found yourself drawn into a book by its excellent premise only to find that the content of the book is severely lacking, or not what you were expecting. These are some of the books I have read which I had high hopes for but which I felt weren’t carried out well (this is all opinion based so don’t get your panties in a bunch if I slag off a book that you like):

Obsidian Mirror by Catherine Fisher

The premise: A teenage boy travels to a remote English villa to find out what happened to his missing father, and uncovers mysterious secrets.

The execution: Mystery, time travel, steampunkish tech, faeries, and some other stuff I just didn’t get all jammed together into one book. This book had a strong opening, but then threw so much stuff at me all at once that I barely had time to take it all in or keep track of what was going on.

The King’s Sister by Anne O’Brien

The premise: A story about Elizabeth of Lancaster, sister of King Henry IV and a little-known figure of history.

The execution: Medieval soap-opera melodrama and problems which were either solved way too quickly or just seemed to solve themselves eventually anyway.

Bearers of the Black Staff by Terry Brooks

The premise: A highly different fantasy which is set not in another world or the distant past, but in the post-apocalyptic far future.

The execution: Just another bog-standard sword-and-sorcery fantasy. There are so many things that could have been done with this premise- Magic duels in the ruins of skyscrapers, contemporary stories becoming folklore, everyday modern objects viewed as sacred artefacts. If you want this same premise done much better, read the Mortal Engines series instead.

The Wolf Princess by Cathryn Constable

The premise: A teenage orphan and her friends get the chance to travel to a remote palace in Russia and uncover hidden family secrets.

The execution: Cliched characters, a protagonist who is barely active in her own story, and huge, completely noticeable plot holes.

Dragon’s Child by M.K. Hume

The premise: An origin story for King Arthur, focusing heavily on the Roman Britain setting.

The execution: Murder, rape, torture, paedophilia, slavery, and just plain uncomfortable reading.


What are some books which you thought were going to be great but severely let you down? Tell me in the comments below.