I've mentioned before my high tolerance for historical inaccuracy as long as the story and characters are compelling. But once again, I feel the need to rant about something I've seen more and more frequently among blogs and on Twitter. There's a continuing trend in the book reviewing world that really sets my teeth on edge. Specifically, it's the calling-out of historical books as historically inaccurate.
Now, I'm not talking about taking someone to task when they've touted their book as 100% accurate. I'm not even talking about when a historical romance feels too modern, as that is often a failure in world building. I'm talking about the use of pejorative labels that shout out mistakes and errors, big and small, and invite attack against the book and the author's craft.
I understand the frustrations of those who would like historical romance to be more historically accurate, or those readers whose fields make them particularly sensitive to historical errors. But I think, as a group, this attack against "mistoricals" isn't doing what people hoped it would.
Instead of helping those accuracy-seeking readers find books that fit their standards of historical authenticity, it is making readers for whom those mistakes aren't a problem feel ashamed of their reading preferences. In short, it's an extension of the reader shaming that many romance readers already suffer under from the non-romance reading public.
Instead of using terms like "wallpaper" or "mistorical" in an often snide tone, why don't these seekers of historical excellence come up with a positive term to trumpet a book that does it right? Instead of mocking a book for something that sales figures already indicate the majority of readers don't care about, why not highlight those books that will satisfy even the worst nitpicky reader?
And yes, "mistorical" is just as much of a pejorative as "wallpaper" is. You can tell by the superior tone of comments whenever that word is used. The public mocking of errors by certain people in my Twitter feed have had my finger hovering over the Unfollow button more than once.
I don't enjoy feeling like I have to justify my preference for story and characters over historical accuracy. Or that I'm somehow letting down the book world if I really don't care that a book mentions an event that is a few months off from its actual date. I'm not a lazy reader (as often suggested by those of the pro-accuracy brigade.) My reading preferences are just that, and I don't think anyone should make me feel like I have to justify them because they've decided to make their own reading preferences into a crusade.