Local fantasy writer and environmentalist Glenda Larke (whom I wrote about some time back) talks about the role of the reviewer, and her own feelings about being reviewed:
... a good review should do one major thing: it should give a reader who hasn’t read the work an idea whether he would like it or not (or alternatively give a reader who has read it something more to think about).I'm usually on the other side of the equation, reviewing writers. Just hope I get it right.
It is not enough to retell the story, obviously. And it is certainly not enough to criticise the work – favourably or otherwise – without saying, coherently, why. There are three kinds of reviews which particularly bug me: the one that is dismissive from the start, e.g. the snide reviewer given a science fiction book to review by a newspaper editor when he loathes the genre, and who then has fun ridiculing it for being science fiction; secondly, the reviewer who attacks the author rather than the work, e.g. on his or her politics; and thirdly the reviewer who slams (or praises) a work but never gives a thoughtful reason.
As an author, I look upon all reviews as a chance for me to learn. What worked, at least as far as this particular reviewer is concerned? What didn’t? And why? If the reviewer can tell me any of that, I am pathetically grateful.