Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Book Review: Dorothea's Song, by Ron Vitale

Purchase Dorothea’s Song for $3.99 on Amazon, here.

Some weeks ago I sent out a tweet asking if anyone wanted their book reviewed, as a way of generating blog material. One person who responded was Ron Vitale, and he agreed to read and review Broken Ones in exchange.

He sent me Dorothea’s Song, and I had no idea what I was getting. I had just bought a Kindle, so this was my very first Kindlebook. I hoped it wouldn’t disappoint—and it didn’t! Right away, Dorothea’s Song captured my attention, so much so that I abandoned the novel I had been reading (a traditionally published novel so full of “to be” verbs and bad phrasing, incidentally, that it made my hair stand on end—and people insist that epublishing means the demise of quality—please).

Anyway, Dorothea’s Song struck me immediately because not only was it cleanly formatted and edited, but because it combined two very different stories. The premise of Dorothea’s Song is that a 16 year old student at a private school is writing a fantasy adventure story for his French class—translating portions of the story into French for the assignment. He has a wonderful French teacher, who he cares for, and he writes about his main character, Dorothea, as a tribute to her. The majority of the novel is the fantasy story, but the young man’s story interrupts every so often. I found both stories to be compelling, and it struck me that the voice of the young man was very authentic. I teach high school English, and it sounded very much like what a sensitive, articulate student might write. I found out after finishing the novel that Ron actually wrote it as a teenager—so my feeling was confirmed!

The choice to include the young man’s voice was a brilliant move, because it gave me a reason to forgive the flaws in the writing. Some phrasing is awkward and the dialogue is fairly wooden. But keeping in mind that this is meant to be a story written by a sixteen-year-old, I found it didn’t bother me. I think it wouldn’t bother the average reader anyway, even without the teen protagonist.

My only complaint comes at the end of the narrator’s story. An interaction with the teacher left me feeling disappointed and I didn’t really understand what she said to him. I wish this could have been better resolved.

Overall, however, I enjoyed Dorothea’s Song. I recommend it to older teenagers and fans of YA fantasy.

Visit Ron's website, here.


  1. I also had the pleasure of reviewing Dorothea's Song a few weeks ago, and the framing story was definitely my favorite part. High fantasy has a hard time getting away from Tolkien (look at the late great Robert Jordan and his ilk), but the added story in modern reality added a lot of interest.

  2. You're right, the framing story really does make the book stand out.

    And thanks for following!