A widow is referred to as a “widow-woman,” or even better, “widder-woman.”
There is a fat section of glossy photographs in the middle of the book.
There is a family tree printed sideways in the pages before the first chapter.
A character who is a preacher is never called by his real name, but by Preacher, Minister, or Parson.
At some point, a character challenges the preacher by saying “Ain’t that right, Preacher?”
There is at least one carefully pencilled map on the interior front cover. Not the kind of Fantasy 101 map that’s clearly just England with four cities located nowhere near a river or strategic port dabbed on with ridiculous-sounding names, either. A good map, with plausible coastlines.
At least one city is referred to as The City, with no explanation.
The fat section of glossy photographs in the middle of the book includes at least one nude photograph of a long-dead movie star or a horribly mutilated corpse. Something you can hardly bear to look at, but keep flipping back to see.
A description of a meal the characters are having that lasts for at least one page.
A little reminder written in bold at the beginning of each chapter at how close the events of said chapter are to the momentous and probably fatal event about which the book is concerned.
Conversations between various characters in languages other than English that are not translated for you, so you have to guess as best you can with whatever knowledge of Romance languages you’ve managed to pick up over the years.
A ton of subtitles, all of which have phrases like Concerning That or Being A Tale In Which in them.
Black-and-white, pen-and-ink illustrations. Not too many. Maybe four or five for the entire book.
A cast of real-life historical characters listed like a set of dramatis personae with all their names in bold printed before the introduction.
A chapter that’s entirely composed of letters written from one character to another.
A reference to another book that does not exist.
A chapter that starts with a really intense Bible quote. One of the really fucked-up ones, like from Ezekiel or Ecclesiastes.
A table of contents that describes a series of horrible real-life events using the Stations of the Cross as a metaphor.
Mallory is an Editor of The Toast.