Cait Corrain’s Author Career Ends Before It Begins After Despicable Review-Bombing Campaign


Hi readers, writers, and shark fans! As you know, Lit Shark is here to celebrate literature and conservation and also to share news and updates about both of those subjects. Unfortunately, not all news is good news.

The Book Community on X (Twitter) and TikTok has been abuzz this week, with some pointing out how 2023 has been bookended with despicably dishonest authors, and for good reason. Back in January 2023, it was revealed that romance author Susan Meachen had faked her death and then created an alter-ego to return to the literary community, and now we’ve been bombarded in December 2023 with racism, review-bombing, and you guessed it, more alter-egos, now from sci-fi fantasy debut author Cait Corrain.

Just like Meachen’s tale, this situation has a lot of twists and turns. We’ll be as brief as we can be, but there’s unfortunately a lot to cover.

If you’re already filled in on this situation or would like to skip over it, please scroll to the bottom to see the list of authors who were impacted by Cait Corrain’s actions. Lit Shark plans to read and review every book on this list.


A Thick Wave of Racist Review-Bombing

Suspicion of questionable, if not blatantly unethical, behavior on Goodreads rose in the past few weeks as authors and readers began to notice a concerning number of upcoming debut authors, many from Del Rey Publishing, receiving a startling number of early negative reviews. What was particularly suspicious was that the group of readers leaving negative reviews were all concentrating on the same new titles—and they were all leaving five-star reviews for another debut author from the same publishing house.

New York Times bestselling author of Iron Widow, Xiran Jay Zhao, first pointed out the pattern that she was seeing on the Goodreads platform, and she went so far as to complete the emotional and intellectual labor of collecting 31 pages of evidence (here’s a backup copy in case the original is ever deleted). In those 31 pages, it became clear to Zhao that the culprit behind the review-bombing was debut sci-fy fantasy author Cait Corrain who had a book called Crown of Starlight coming out around the same time as the other debut authors at Del Rey. Suspiciously, Corrain’s book received five-star ratings from the same series of readers who had left negative reviews of the other titles.

Based on the writing style of these reviewers, it was obvious that these were burner (or fake) accounts for Corrain. She made matters worse for herself by only handing out negative reviews to other authors while using those exact same burner accounts to give her own book top ratings. But she made matters significantly worse by creating burner accounts that appeared to be People of Color, based on their names and avatars, and she specifically targeted BIPOC debut authors.


A Sloppy Attempt

After compiling the evidence, Zhao took to Twitter and said, “If you as a debut author are going to make a bunch of fake Goodreads accounts one-star-bombing fellow debuts you’re threatened by, can you at least not make it so obvious by upvoting your own book on a bajillion different lists with those same accounts?” In a follow-up tweet, Zhao warned, “I’m not going to leak the extensive receipts so I don’t ruin this person’s career before it even starts, but if they do anything further in a similar vein… action will be taken.”

The subject was broached in a private Slack community that hosted the Del Rey debut authors, but when Corrain was confronted directly, she conveniently stated that the review-bombing was not done by her, but by an anonymous friend named “Lilly.” Corrain produced a series of screenshots, supposedly taken from a private Discord that she used to talk to Lilly, who she claimed was a connection she had from her Star Wars fanfare days. The message exchange begins with Corrain venting to her friend that she had received a strange email from Goodreads about review posting etiquette, and shortly thereafter, “Lilly” revealed that she had wanted to help Corrain by tanking the reviews of other debut authors that Corrain had felt threatened by (fearing that their books would perform better than hers).

The screenshots did not convince the other writers in the Slack channel, and they asked for more information about Lilly, where to find her online, and screenshots of earlier conversations with Lilly, to show they had a history and a friendship before this exchange. When the screenshots weren’t enough, Corrain began to get defensive, saying she “didn’t know what else they wanted,” before ultimately saying that she had just gotten off the phone with her agent and would not be speaking to anyone about this going forward who “was not an affected author.” But when talking about Lilly, she claimed that she did not know who the impacted authors were, so how would she know who to speak to?


Corrain Manifested Her Own Zero Sum Game

It soon became clear to the Book Community that all of this was a cover for Corrain’s own actions, and she soon issued a public apology on Twitter that no one found to be much of an apology at all (here are page one and page two of her apology in case they are ever deleted online).

She accused her depression and issues with addiction and alcoholism for her actions, which the community was quick to point out was a problematic stance, as mental health and addictions do not make you racist and ableist if those are not inherent aspects of your personality already.

Since all of this happened, Corrain has lost her relationship with her agent, her publisher, her book deal, and an impressive inclusion with Illumicrate, all of which fellow authors would dream of having. All of this originated from Corrain’s own feelings of inadequacy and jealousy towards other authors, but if she had simply paid attention to the fact that she had a dream sci-fi/fantasy publisher, with a great agent, an Illumicrate collab, and fantastic early responses from her ARC team, she should have been able to realize that she could sit back, enjoy her success, and hopefully celebrate the successes of her fellow debut authors, too.

The important thing to remember in the Book Community is that authors are able to succeed more if they help each other more, rather than compete with each other. Using sci-fi fantasy as an example, if one author in that genre does well, then readers are going to seek out other authors like them and comparable titles to their own. When those authors do well, the readers will continue to read more in that genre and genres similar to it. It is a positive trickle-down effect! By lifting up one author, we are all lifted up, either as a fellow author or as a reader who now has more books to add to their TBR list. Feelings of inadequacy and competitiveness really do not need to hold space in the Book Community—especially for someone who had everything other authors would swoon over.


Support the Impacted Authors

Below, we’ve collected all of the information that we can find about the impacted authors, including their names, social media, book title, and where the book can be purchased or preordered. Please know that if we missed anyone, it was a genuine accident, and we’re happy to update this post immediately to also include their information as a part of this list! If any information is inaccurate or missing, just reach out here, and we’ll correct it right away. We’re also planning to do a separate post featuring just these authors, so they can have their own space free of this negativity.

Also, we’re organizing this list chronologically by release date, so we can show these authors as much love on and author their book birthdays as possible.

R.M. VIRTUESLove Me Now: Gods of Hunger, Book 4 — August 10, 2023
Strange Hungers Publishing — Purchase Here

THEA GUANZONThe Hurricane Wars — October 3, 2023 (Book II coming fall 2024)
Harper Voyager — Purchase Here

KATRINA KWAN — Knives, Seasoning, & A Dash of Love — December 19, 2024
Lake County Press & Review — Preorder Here

KAMILAH COLE — So Let Them Burn (Divine Traitors #1) — January 16, 2024
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers — Preorder Here

FRANCES WHITE — Voyage of the Damned — January 18, 2024
Michael James Books — Preorder Here

ALI HAZELWOOD — Bride — February 6, 2024
Berkley — Preorder Here

DANIELLE L. JENSENA Fate Inked in Blood – February 27, 2024
Del Rey Publishing — Preorder Here

BETHANY BAPTISTEThe Poisons We Drink — March 5, 2024
Sourcebooks Fire — Preorder Here

MOLLY X CHANGTo Gaze Upon Wicked Gods — April 16, 2024
Del Rey Books & Penguin — Preorder Here

AKURE PHÉNIXThe Empire Wars — July 30, 2024
Blackstone Publishing, Inc — Preorder Here

K.M. ENRIGHTMistress of Lies — August 13, 2024
Orbit Books — Preorder Here

We also want to give a special shoutout to Xiran Jay Zhao, author of Iron Widow (September 2021, Penguin Teen Canada), which you can purchase here. Book II of the series, Heavenly Tyrant (forthcoming from Tundra Books, April 30, 2024), is also available for preorder here.


Statement by the Lit Shark Staff to the Impacted Authors

To the authors who were targeted during this review-bombing campaign, we are sorry this happened to you. You deserved so much better. While we cannot reverse everything that happened, we intend to help each of you in the coming weeks and months by reading your books, sharing them with our community, and writing HONEST long-form reviews of your books. Your debuts deserve a fair shot, not the treatment they’ve been given.


Statement by the Lit Shark Staff Regarding Book Review Etiquette

While we love writing book reviews, we are always very careful to do three things: First, we try to only review books we believe we are a good match for (books that we initially like and want to read, as well as books that we know we can offer constructive feedback to). Second, we write honest reviews (and we read all of our titles in full; we do not know what “skimming” means). We express a lot of love here for books, but when the occasion calls for it, we will express constructive criticism in the KINDEST way possible. The point is to support and teach, not to tear down. Third and finally, our reviews and our stances cannot be purchased. If we do not believe we’ll be a good match for your book, we won’t review it, five-star ratings cannot be purchased, and we do not believe in review bombing whatsoever.

Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. You will not be charged extra, but a portion of your purchase will help support Lit Shark’s causes in inclusive and accessible literature and writing resources, as well as our growing movement in conversation education, rescue, and revitalization.

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Written By McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan (she/her/hers) lives and writes in Europe with her family (originally from the Midwest). In addition to being the Editor-in-Chief of Lit Shark Magazine and the Banned Book Review, she is a novelist, poet, and book reviewer. She received her MFA in Poetry from Western Michigan University and her BA in English/BS in Education from Indiana University South Bend, where she began her work in publishing. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, Young Ravens Review, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Encore Magazine, among others; and her book reviews and essays have appeared in The Rumpus, Green Mountains Review, Memoir Mixtapes, The Life Collective, Her Journal, Motherly, and more. When not writing, she enjoys reading, appreciating nature, and spending time with her husband and three children.




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