Welcome back to the SPSFC. As you may be aware, we are now in the semifinals, meaning a mere 30 books remain in the competition.

Having selected three semifinalists of our own, At Boundary’s Edge will now be reading six more books selected by other teams. In this stage of the contest, each team’s chosen three are passed along to two other teams. At Boundary’s Edge will be reading the books chosen by Team Read Stars and Team Science Fiction News.

As before, our team of judges will read each book to completion (or give it a dreaded DNF rating, and score it somewhere between 0 and 10. These scores will be added together to create a team average. The team average will then be combined with the average score given by the other two teams to have read that book. Spaces in the final are limited, and only the highest scoring books from across the competition will be granted one of the coveted spaces. And remember, if a book has made it this far, it’s because a few people really liked it. Even if it doesn’t go any further in the contest, it must be doing something right.

Today’s review is of Heritage, by S. M. Warlow. As always, all thoughts below are my own, and do not necessarily reflect those of my fellow judges.

I want to start by talking about prologues. Apparently there are some very strange people out there who skip over prologues. I’ve seen a whole lot of writing advice that says prologues are a bad idea. Well, that’s nonsense. A prologue is the perfect way to set up a situation for the novel that follows. It’s a way to get the basics of the story out of the way before shifting into the main narrative. Basically, I love prologues.

Heritage, however, is a masterclass in how not to use a prologue. For a start, it’s so brief it basically reads as the blurb or back cover of a book. For another, every single piece of information it provides is immediately recapped in chapter one. That repetition comes back often throughout the book, as everything is spelled out time and again, ad nauseum. I appreciate clarity, but this is a book that seems to think I can’t remember more than a few pages ago. Even if that were the case, I could simply flick back a few pages.

This speaks to a larger problem with Heritage. It is atrociously edited. There is a character whose name I do not know, because the spelling changed every other time we met them. The formatting of in-universe text sticks out of the page. Even on a prose level, it feels incredibly clumsy. There’s no polish here. All in all, it’s as if I’m reading a first draft, not a finished novel.

That said, it is the first draft of a good novel. The plot is exciting. The world is interesting. There are some good characters. It’s a shame you have to sift through so much fluff to get to any of that, but the core ideas are there. Yes, there is a lot of fat that could be trimmed from the edges of the book, and a whole lot of tightening up all round, but there is a glimmer of promise here.

I’m giving Heritage a score of 3/10 for the SPSFC. There is a good story in here somewhere, which is worthy of praise, but the overall poor execution makes it one of my least favourites of the contest.

3 responses to “SPSFC2 SEMIFINALIST REVIEW: Heritage, by S.M. Warlow”

  1. Bookstooge Avatar

    Thanks for saving me the time…..


  2. MONTHLY ROUNDUP: March 2023 – At Boundary's Edge Avatar

    […] Semifinalist Review: Heritage, by S. M. Warlow […]



    […] by S. M. WarlowFinal Score: 3.83/10 (Highest Solo Score: 5/10)My Review/Athena’s ReviewFinal Verdict: Though this book had an interesting setup and a plot with a lot […]


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