I doubt this week I’ll read more trenchant criticism than thirteen-year-old Rebecca Landau’s letter in the New York Times Book Review on Sunday:
More than three-quarters of the paperbacks I own have quotes on the back cover from The Times or some other respected literary source comparing the book to Harry Potter. None of these books have anything to do with Harry Potter.Of course, marketing determines which quotes go on the backs of books, not the reviewers themselves. A reviewer who’s well read in children’s fantasy literature might see more similarities between a new book and, say, George MacDonald’s The Light Princess or Raymond Abrashkin and Jay Williams’s Danny Dunn and the Homework Machine or Diana Wynne Jones’s Homeward Bounders. But that learned analysis won’t have the value of a golden Harry Potter comparison.
It seems that the only fantasy novel critics have read is Harry Potter and that they assume that all fantasy will be like Harry Potter. Children’s fantasy should be reviewed by children or adults who actually read fantasy.