Review by Kristine_Donahue -- The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci

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Review by Kristine_Donahue -- The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci

Post by Kristine_Donahue »

[Following is a volunteer review of "The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci" by Belle Ami.]
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2 out of 4 stars
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I didn’t know much about The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci by Belle Ami, aside from the fact that, based on the cover alone, it clearly pays homage to Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code. Inherently there is nothing wrong with this. Plenty of authors have found some degree of success in the art history mystery subgenre. Considering that Ms. Ami’s book was so highly rated on both Amazon and GoodReads, I was surprised by what I got in a book with so much promise.


I give this book 2 out of 4 stars. And that’s a soft 2, because this rating system does not allow for half ratings. It’s clear from the very beginning that this book is not professionally edited. Scores of grammatical errors are found time and again, particularly pertaining to punctuation. As a writer, I acknowledge that writers are not always perfect when it comes to the rules of the English language. In fact, it’s nearly never the case that a writer is perfect with grammar. But understanding the basics is, in my opinion, a requirement. For instance, knowing where to place quotation marks is essential. The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci has numerous examples of quotation marks missing from where they should be, and placed where they shouldn’t be.

In addition, comma placement, which objectively can be challenging, is something that a professional editor would be able to help with. But this book is riddled with comma errors, both placing them where they shouldn’t be and leaving them out from where they should be. Perhaps one or two of these errors may be something that eludes an editor’s eye, but repeating the same errors into the double digits is not acceptable in a published work.

Regarding the content, and again, keeping in mind that I knew nothing about the book or the author, I felt the story took a hard turn when the romantic story line was revealed. From the moment we are introduced to it, much of the plot focuses on the physical relationship that the two protagonists develop. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy a good, steamy sex scene as much as the next person. But The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci takes place over the course of about six weeks, and the sexual tension, and subsequent sex, is over-the-top far too early. The love story seems unrealistic, is predicated on sex that happens quite often when the female character is under the influence of alcohol or in need of consoling, and is often analyzed by both participants in an aggressively needy and inappropriately possessive sort of way.

On top of that, The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci is chock full of clichés and repeated words. Ms. Ami uses the same phrases to describe sensations, visions, anatomy, and angst. The trope of a struggling student who meets a wealthy man of mystery is replayed ad nauseum. And the reader is never, ever allowed to forget that their “love” has nothing to do with his money. She is the damsel, he is the knight, and their love is pure.

And yet…

Despite what already seems to be an excoriating review, I could not stop reading. The actual story, the premise beneath the poor grammar, bad clichés, unnecessary sex scenes, and lack of synonyms, was actually intriguing. I’m not against the two characters becoming a romantic item, but I think Ms. Ami lost an opportunity to capitalize on that relationship by not waiting until further into her series before introducing it. By maintaining a bit more foreplay, I would have been ready and willing for the characters to finally succumb to their desires in book three, perhaps. But where do the characters go from book one now?

This desire to want to get to the end, even though I knew how it would end, forced me to give the book a two, rather than a one. And it was a struggle to keep the two considering the errors and what can only be described, at times, as lazy writing. I haven’t given up on this series, but I hope Ms. Ami is able to improve the quality of what is put out to her readers, and embrace the strength of her stories without needing to pepper them with gratuitous sex.

I tenuously recommend The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci (with the above failings of this book in mind) to fans of Dan Brown’s The Da Vinci Code, obviously. Fans of the Twilight and 50 Shades of Grey series may find it an entertaining read. And fans of P.C. Cast’s Partholon series may find this fun.

The Girl Who Knew Da Vinci
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