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Glass Dolls by L.C. Schäfer: A Review

Almost six months to the day since publication, I get to be part of this book’s second wave *before* it was cool 😎

By Stephen A. RoddewigPublished about a month ago 5 min read
You have no idea how afraid I was that I would drop this book and/or my phone 😅

A Little Background

Recently, I came across another Vocal author’s book in the wild, and one agreement to book swap followed by review maxxing later, I found myself curious what other books might exist whose origins were firmly rooted in this site. How were us Vocal authors conducting ourselves off platform?

Rather than check out an already crowd-sourced list of books by Vocal authors…

…I followed doctrine and plodded about the site, searching for some books I knew existed from past Top Stories.

Glass Dolls by S.E. Holz/L.C. Schäfer is the first one that came up on my radar. I’m coming for you next, Paul Stewart.

The Power of a Review

If you spend any amount of time around authors, you’ll inevitably hear something about reviews.

If they’re big time, likely something about how this big-time book reviewer gave them a glowing review.

If they’re a bit smaller (guilty ✋), more likely they are asking you to review as soon as you’ve finished reading.

You might wonder why it matters so much. After all, isn’t buying the book the best way to support an author?

Yes, it absolutely is.

But reviews are the second-best thing you can do. And, bonus, they don’t cost any extra.


Imagine you’ve come across a new book. The author doesn’t trigger name-brand recognition like, say, Emily Hunter or Tom Clancy. When you hear those names, you figure someone who can sell thousands of copies isn’t writing total junk.

But here, you don’t have that reassurance. You’re already a bit leery. So now you’re seeking other indicators of whether or not this book is worth your money in the short term and time in the long term. Both commodities that are often in rare supply.

The back cover text can certainly give you a better idea whether the genre and subject matter match your interests. The cover itself will give folks a visual cue.

And if the person has been hooked by these two aspects, then they might just take a gander at the reviews.

And seeing that others, perhaps previously unfamiliar with the author like themselves, enjoyed what they read and even cared enough to submit a review when they gain no kind of secondary reward could be the deciding factor.

So if you really love a book or an author, it’s a huge boost to leave a review. Even a short one! It’s often more about the total review count that shows at the top of the product page and the cumulative star score than the written reviews themselves.

Especially on Amazon where the reviews are lumped a good way down the page.

So, having recently experienced all of this for myself, I decided to put my money where my mouth is. Not only did I buy Glass Dolls, but I left an honest review on Amazon after the fact.

Bonus: I also submitted the same review on Goodreads, since I also appreciate just how much harder it is to get reviews there. Why? Because, while almost everyone has an Amazon account, Goodreads is a much more niche audience and many of your readers likely aren’t on the platform.

All right, enough explanation. Here’s my honest review:

The Official Review

A quick, fun romp

Glass Dolls may have the honor of being the first solo-author short story collection I’ve ever read. Every other one I’ve consumed (that I know of) has always been united by theme but with multiple authors.

That is a strength in that, while certainly S.E. Holz doesn’t follow the exact same formula every time, you get a sense of her style and approach, so you can be more confident that you’ll like each story as you continue reading. Plus, you get a much better sense of the author as whole.

However, perhaps because of my background, I still found myself wishing for more thematic unity between stories. As it stands now the book is maybe 60% stories rooted in mythological/fairy tale/medieval settings. The other 40% covers everything from a society infiltrated by futuristic mechs that mimic humans to a very somber retelling of the protagonist discovering her mother dead in a bathtub.

Ironically, I enjoyed the non-fairy tale offerings more. Especially the end poem “Golem,” which is a very cogent examination of how the world has become digitized and how that grants AI truly unfettered access to us. So what might it do with these powers? Have we laid the groundwork for our own destruction?

Even though I enjoyed what I imagine are the “secondary” stories, I think the collection would benefit from a central theme. This would also help potential readers be more certain of what they are getting.

Would I have bought a collection solely of fairy tale retellings? Likely not, so perhaps that undermines my own argument.

But on the other hand, isn’t it better that readers make that decision up front? Knowing there’s no way to guarantee they’ll enjoy something that’s “on genre,” but at least cutting down the odds they’ll be dissatisfied and avoiding returns/bad reviews as much as possible.

To be clear, I liked it. The end poem will stick with me for a while. And none of this critique is driven by the author’s writing quality. I think it’s well executed, and as a fellow author, my standards are high. If you only read one collection of short stories, you could do a whole lot worse!

The Final Takeaway

Read often, and review often. This one was a bit elaborate, I’ll admit. But I felt the need to clarify my thoughts, and as a fellow author, my mind goes to a whole lot of places when I read something, from the writing itself to the larger picture behind the book and its publication strategy.

Don’t let this dissuade you. If you like something, say you liked it! Doesn’t have to be a multi-paragraph affair. But if you dislike something, it will only help the author grow if you explain why. Don’t be one of those jackasses who leaves a 1- or 2-star rating and doesn’t give us any insight as to how we might improve.

And I’d be remiss if I didn’t leave one more link to Glass Dolls for those who read this far and are now curious to see the book in action for themselves. It is quite good:

One more time: Read often, and review often!


About the Creator

Stephen A. Roddewig

I am an award-winning author from Arlington, Virginia. Started with short stories, moved to novels.

...and on that note: A Bloody Business is now live! More details.

Proud member of the Horror Writers Association 🐦‍⬛

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Comments (3)

  • Bri Craigabout a month ago

    Great review, I'll have to check it out! And congrats to L.C Schäfer!! 🎉

  • L.C. Schäferabout a month ago

    Thank you! I regretted not having a cohesive theme, tbh. Categorising it was a pain in the arse. Never again!

  • Paul Stewartabout a month ago

    What a fine and balanced and not pandering review. Loved it. I have still to do a review for LC/SE on Vocal for this and it's on my agenda in the very near future. I loved it and I also thought Golem was a star of the show was brooding and haunting and way too close to the truth than I'd care to admit. I loved how easy it was to just pick it up and get sucked in. I do see your point with the connection maybe lacking between stories...but I think her wit and her style connects them? Anyway, hope this gets Top Story, so it gets more reads and more potential buys for the book. Also...where the hell did you take that picture. I was originally the first commenter...but for some reason this didn't send haha.

Stephen A. RoddewigWritten by Stephen A. Roddewig

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