For several weeks the YA blogosphere and Goodreads communities have been quietly seething over racist themes in a recently published novel by author Victoria Foyt.

It was a fire that smoldered until respected media watchdog Racebending broadcast the issue to Tumblr last week, sending book lovers into a frenzy. Yesterday, Foyt dismissed her (thousands) of critics, telling CTV News that she believed criticism came primarily from “members within the African-American community who have not read the book.”

Revealing Eden is the first in a series called Save the Pearls, and it tells the story of a dystopic society where black citizens, dubbed the “Coals,” rule over marginalized white citizens called “Pearls,” described in the novel as “the racist term for whites.” Foyt argues that the novel explores complex themes of race; but that doesn’t quite explain the website, where the book’s trailer greets you with a white actress—in blackface.

“I reek of inferiority,” she earnestly tells the viewer, over occasional flashes of the character sans makeup, blonde hair flowing past her shoulders as she pensively reads a volume of Emily Dickinson.