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How to write the perfect book review by Sarah Broadhurst from

We recently asked Sarah Broadhurst, our Editorial guru, how she writes such useful and revealing reviews. We found her answers so interesting and potentially useful that we have put them all together in a BLOG to share with you.

Sarah initially said ‘I have no idea how to write a perfect book review’ and she cited the witty quote (shown below) from The Biography of Sydney Smith (1771-1845) by H Pearson.

I never read a book before reviewing it, it prejudices a man so.

She is also a great fan of book reviews written by Dirk Bogarde as they were so readable.


But eventually we teased out of her some of the approaches she uses -

Firstly, and very importantly she said,

‘Personally I don’t like to say anything too derogatory – if I don’t like a book I don’t review it, simple as that, for somebody liked it enough to publish it in the first place and someone else may also love it – just not me. If you have to review it, then do stress it is your opinion only. As with all art it is subjective and my view is just that – mine.’
And below are a few more tips to writing the perfect review:

Never read the publisher’s comment/blurb before embarking upon a book … it is frequently misleading. Read the book!

When writing your reviews:

  1. Mention past work, either compare or just mention – it jogs a reader’s memory.
  2. Give a short synopsis, without the ending.
  3. Highlight writing, characters, plot, structure or whatever, depending on your subject matter. If a thriller then you need to talk about pace, if a romance then emotions must ring true, if literary then language, style and ideas are to the fore, if non-fiction then accessibility and contents.
  4. Conclude with your feeling about the work. You can compare to another well-known author to place the unknown for the readers.
  5. Keep it light, highly readable and flowing.
  6. If you are writing the review for money remember to send an invoice so you get paid.
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