The world 's a big place, and it has a lot of stories that are just waiting to be told.
This is especially true in a world where heroes, villains, magic, fantasy and horror all abound for those willing to look for it.
Who knows there may even be a special brand of madness all for you.
Just remember to beware what lies beneath the masks of those who attend the Deviant's Masquerade.
- Overall Score
- Style Score
- Story Score
- Grammar Score
- Character Score
- Total Views :
- Average Views :
- Followers :
- Favorites :
- Ratings :
- Pages :
Leave a review
"Deviant's Masquerade is meant as an urban-fantasy/ superhero Anthology with each episode being a multi-chapter arc, following a different set of characters all existing in the same world(s)."
First off, wow. I will say I was a little hesitant at first when I saw the style of writing he had. It was a majority of conversation with not much depicition, and what looked like a lot of internal conversation. Once I actually sat down and read it was impressed.
The one thing Arthicern does well is the character development. He does it in a way that the people interact with one another but each chapter will shift who the perspective is on, giving you a chance to see inside the mind of all those who are involved in the story. This created a fun and different twist.
Each part of the story is set with a differnt story, which created some fun experiences. Ive just started reading Episode 3 and will definately be reading til the end.
Overall, Arthicern does a great job. The style is a little odd from what I'm use to but it doesn't detract from the story. If you read this, you're in for a treat!
Deviant's Masquerade has a huge gimmick that sets it apart from most every story on Royal Road-- it's a shared universe anthology, with different tales set in the same world, but each with its own cast of characters and its own non-intersecting plot (though that might change later on).
And so before you jump in, just make sure you're aware so you don't end up being all "grrr" about the fact that each story is more like a novelette than a full-fledged story, and most of the stories end not with firm resolution, but with cliffhangers to be continued at a later date. If you've read the superhero web novel Graven, it's very much like that, but significantly longer.
Each of them, for their own part, have a very high-concept premise, with lots of action and interesting protagonists. They vary in quality and execution, but they are generally pretty solid.
- Episode 1 - A man named Jericho stumbles on a bank robbery and decides to get involved... This protagonist is scatterbrained, hyperactive to the point of absurdity, and probably not the best character to ease you into this fantasy world. And yet, that's probably for the best.
- Episode 2 - A depressed girl named Molly is saved from the brink of destruction by a mysterious, handsome, absurdly powerful man. And now she's thrown into a whole new world. Molly is very relateable in a sad way, but overall this story is very silly--there's a literal musical number--and highly entertaining... at least until the story gets into a bit of LitRPG-esque exposition drudgery.
- Episode 3 - Two siblings live as normal teenagers involved in drama at school, while hiding their true identities as ravenous monsters. The roughest of the bunch, it's paced really weirdly with a ton of fight scenes piled up one after another and not much payoff for the character arcs, but it does include some of the darkest stuff in the series so far.
- Episode 4 - A single father raises his four children, all of whom have superpowers and protect their small town from interdimensional threats. The silliness factor is cranked up even further than Episode 2 here, and it's great. The cast here is the best yet, and it veers into full-on adorable in places thanks to the twin girls that fight lizard aliens.
I would have liked to see all of these extended just a bit so that we could have gotten more solid endings, but I'm satisfied with what we have gotten so far.
My issue is that, for all of the detail put into this big expansive world, we... don't really get that good of a picture of the world. There's a lot of slow-unfolding-of-backstory, something I really like, but it unfolds TOO slowly, with even simple concepts like Deviants and Rifts not being well-explained until quite far in.
...And that ties into the big thing for me, which is that Deviant's Masquerade is still very rough stylistically. Lots of weird formatting quirks or design choices that distract from the story, the kind of thing that really deserves an editing pass through everything written so far. While it improves as the story goes along, there's a continuing issue where the prose simply does not do the plot justice. We don't get much description of people, places, or things, with special emphasis on "places" here. The setting gets almost NO description, and in a vast urban fantasy world, this is a huge miss. We don't get to see what normal life is like in this weird world, and we don't get to feel how different each of the four protagonists' walks of life are.
For example, Episode 3 features a birthday party that has quite a lot of festivities going on, and is a scene of lots of teen drama, then lots of thriller tension, then a full-on action scene. However, the party itself, the atmosphere, the people inhabiting it, the house it's in... it's mostly skipped over, and so I actually forgot that there was a party a few chapters in, until someone mentioned underaged drinking. More description could really help turn this story into something great!
I'm being hard on this though, because Royal Road is absolutely not known for its good prose. Or stories. Or characters. But Deviant's Masquerade already has two of those--going three-for-three would make it certain that this story is worth reading above [insert an isekai story here].
So if you're fine with the anthology setup, and you're fine with the technical hiccups (as of this writing), check Deviant's Masquerade out, and give it a whirl. You'll get some laughs out of it, and maybe some tears if you're lucky.
Admittedly when I read the first chapter I was a bit overwhelmed and had to put it down a day before continuing. Seemed like a lot was going on and the unique narration style was jarring. But from chapter 2 (Episode 1.2) onward the story flows very nicely.
As I read Episode 1.1 to 1.15 I kept thinking "now this is exactly how dialog is done."
It's very easy for writers to write spoken dialog the way that people think rather than the way people actually talk, but for this novel, the author definitely does not have this problem.
The dialog sounds exactly like how people put in those situations would speak, and the characters' personalities are revealed through an expert mix of dialog, unsaid thoughts and body language.
I wasn't a big fan of the training stats portion of the latter part of Episode 2, but in the sense that it reveals aspects of the magic system it could be necessary.
One small comment I had was that I would like to know more about this city the story is set in - how it looks like, how it feels like, its history.
The dialog is so good you can almost imply how the setting is - the dark urban noir feeling comes out well. However, it is still "almost" because there's the little part of me that wonders how everything really looks, rather than how I think Jericho/Rook etc view their surroundings based on their conversations.
Otherwise, it would be perfect, and even still this is definitely worth reading.
As a side note, I really like the "broken male" character trope and the character of Jericho sucked me right into the story such that I could not stop reading Episode 1 even if I tried. Particularly his interactions with Rook and their tragic dysfunctional relationship was just on point for me.
Looking forward to seeing more of that particular story arc play out.
So far finished Episode 2 and will continue.
So, how do I- how do I discribe this? Well just like the title said this is different, and that is in no way a bad thing, rather it makes for a refreshing read, it’s almost like a serial novel.There are few authors who could pull this off, in fact the only other author I can think of that does this is andrzej sapkowski, author of the last wish(Witcher novels). He did this because the last wish was a polish episodic news paper novel with a chapter released each week and to keep readers attention each chapter needed to be a self contained story. It is a style that I love as it feels like you can hop in anywhere and it will just work and honestly it does.
this style leads to a very cool world building effect where we see the world in contridicring truths, as each character the chapters follow see things a little(or a lot lol) differently.
I hope in future episodes we will get to follow these characters again to see how they have changed and or developed over time, even if we only get to see that change by effect and not as the change is happening.
loved it more than I would have thought, can’t wait to see where this leads.
An interesting and very ambitious take on... well, several things, with a mix of supers, magic, and (later on) litRPG and portals. It definitely isn’t small in scope, and makes some unusual choices in delivery.
The opening 'Jericho King' arc is fairly straight-forward standard action-badass stuff, but is a well-crafted piece of characterisation and world-building, giving enough broad strokes to pick up on without settling for lazy info-dumping or summaries (I suspect there's a very detailed world-document somewhere, or Arthicern is really good at pantsing it!) The characters know about their world and communicate to each other fairly naturally about it, making the broad details obvious, while leaving a lot of murkiness and plothooks for the future.
The second arc is very different – it dips into the magical side of things, showing both the darkness and the light that happens when you start mingling with powers from beyond the grave. The characterisation is great, although the second half is slightly saggy stat-dumping for spells and digging into the magical mechanics (full disclosure: I’m not really a fan of litRPG, so discussion of the difference between precise ranks of spells is not something I find engaging!).
The third arc (Raimundo Morales) is almost a halfway house between the two above – Raimundo is relatively balanced and in a decent place, with a family and an (almost) girlfriend, but has major secrets and blood on his hands. There’s a bit more of a glimpse into how the world works, with the end exploding as everything rapidly goes south. This feels very much like the start of the character’s story, rather than a story in itself – it’s good, but feels as though it’s getting everything in place for the start of the character’s development and arc.
The fourth arc (Sol Grey) continues towards the more ‘slice of life’ side of the setting, with a single Dad to 4 super-powered kids, and how that works. There’s quite a lot packed in here, with a load of setting info mingling in with family dynamics. It manages to be sweet without being too saccharine, and highlights the sheer variety of powers present. It does jump around a fair bit between the characters, although each section is labelled. Again, there’s not much in the way of a plot, but it introduces a decent set of characters and their surrounding environment.
The writing and grammar is generally good – there’s a few typos I noticed (which the writer was kind enough to correct). While there’s quite a lot of proper nouns floating around, the context they get introduced in makes the general meaning understandable, and further context is generally supplied in the text. The main oddity is the use of bracketed and italicised (and sometimes bolded) text for internal dialog, which takes a bit of getting used to, but is at consistently used, so once you adjust to it reads quite smoothly. As with the story itself, there are some ambitious attempts (one scene in the second arc is fantastic characterisation and development, and is generally delightful, but due to italics being used to indicate both lyrics and thoughts gets a bit confusing to read when trying to work out what’s what). It’s definitely an ambitious project, that tries to do quite a lot, and may not always quite reach it’s mark, but does a lot of interesting things along the way.
It should probably be noted that I am writing this review after having only read the first two episodes. (so far)
If you like reading screenplays, boy, you found what you're looking for. The majority of the story is delivered through dialogues, both internal and external, with brief sentences moving the story along between them. It works very well. I was hesitant at first, because I'm a reader that usually enjoys descriptions and more omniscient style/delivery, but by the end of the second chapter, it had me hooked.
Succinct and not pulling any punches, the prose is quick and gives you only what you want to know, with the fractured arcs aiding the author's style by allowing you to read the story in pieces and take breaks between them.
Pros: Fast-paced, cliffhangy, don't-want-to-put-it-downy, unique style
Cons: Story/dialogue cliches, sometimes too fast-paced
Deviant's Masquerade is a collection of loosely connected stories occurring within a world filled with paranormal, supernatural, and superhuman people and events. Admittedly, I was apprehensive of the story at the start because its a multi-character anthology and not a continuous narrative; however, I was pleasantly surprised by how good the stories were at grabbing my attention and keeping me interested.
As of the end of the fourth episode, each of the stories has provided an interesting cast of characters who cover a wide variety of personality types, character goals, and personal motivations. In addition, the world of Deviant offers an equally versatile array of powers from magic to otherworldly lycanthropy to interdimensional shenanigans. Another strength the author has is the portrayal of interpersonal relationships and character flaws. As a reader, I was able to get a distinct sense for each of the characters which made even the perspectives I liked less more enjoyable. The variety kept me interested along with the well-written characters and cool stories.
However, the story's variety is also one of its weaknesses. Since the author is good enough to make you curious about the various powers and character backgrounds, the continuously shifting perspective can be very frustrating for those who want to know more about a specific power type or become attached to one of the characters. Lastly, the author employs a style using parentheses to convey internal thoughts as well as mental dialogue; however, the prose suffers at points because the internal thoughts can become mixed between characters at points and sometimes those internal thoughts are inserted into the middle of a sentence which is a bit odd at best and jarring at worst.
At the end of the day though, I thoroughly recommend this story to those who are fans of urban fantasy. It's a very cool setting with an interesting cast of characters. I especially recommend the story if you are a fan of this particular style of story (shared universe anthology). I'm distinctly not a fan of most anthologies that constantly shift the main cast of characters, yet the author still managed to keep me engaged and entertained through all four of the current episodes.
I rarely give ratings and even fewer reviews, but I had to make an exception for this novel. While some may be off-putt by it being a collection of stories instead of a cohrent whole that is for the benefit of world building without using massive dumps an the world is completely fleshed out.
The stories tie in together with characters from other stories being referenced or mentioned showing how everything is interconnected. The characters are amazingly unique each with their own mental issues adding a flavour of madness which differentiates it from other masked novels like worm.
So, I read, and am reviewing, Episode 4. I'm going to come back to that point.
I will briefly go through the main reviewing categories, as per RR, but I must say that I think this story is greater than the sum of its parts if you just look at those criteria.
The USP here is what I am going to loosely term 'soul'. There is a genuine feel-good quality to this episode that is really well handled. The story focuses on family, and the relationships between children and their guardian. Was it effective? Well, I'm happy to admit that I'm going to call my folks after having read this.
On to the conventional...
The style is nice, light and creative. The writer uses italicised thoughts as a way to inject a human element throughout the story. It might not be for everyone, but it worked for me. Personally, I enjoyed having that extra voice, that differed depending on whose arc we were following. If anything, I'd say this could be exploited a little more, with some increased variation between characters. This will be tough, though, because the author has a strong voice themselves.
The story... I did a u-turn on the story. The episode is more thematically driven that plot driven, so I almost didn't score story at all. When confronted with a lengthy aside in the middle I then wondered if it wouldn't work better as multiple episodes, each with its own scenario to keep the themes and characters on track. However, the last few chapters changed my mind entirely. I saw the reasoning behind the format (and there were even hints at tie-ins with other episodes). Mainly though, there was a lovely twist at the end, that even explained away questions I had after the earlier chapters.
The grammar is a bit up and down. There are typos and odd mistakes that do grate a little bit, but they don't make it unreadable. A bit more attention wouldn't go amiss, but I know what it's like trying to create and edit at the same time.
The characters, at least in Episode 4, are either adorable or badass, and sometimes both. They are a little, and I stress a little, one dimensional, but this suits the episode format perfectly. There isn't really enough time or space to have 5 characters grow, so Arthicern has gone the other route, and instead given us five characters that are just plane cool.
Now that the formalities are over, I wish to go back to my original gripe: I want more, and I can't easily get it. The episodes jump to new characters, new situations and, if the comments are anything to go by, even change in theme, tone and style. I can't help but wonder if it wouldn't be better to break this into multiple novels, loosely connected by being set in the same universe, but I'll get back to you on that once I have read the other episodes.
Still, if the worst thing someone can say about your story is that they want more, then I think you have truly succeeded as a writer. I think everyone should try a slice of this fun, quirky fiction, and then we can all leave the table a little hungry.
I write this having only read Episode 5.
First and foremost, I recommend this story wholeheartedly, but with a very important caveat: Reader beware that there is no satsifying conclusion, and that you may never know what happens to the incredibly likeable characters you are introduced to throughout the Episode.
All the way up to the two chapters before the end of Episode 5, I had fully intended to go back and read the rest of this masterwork. The disillusionment I felt upon reading the final two chapters of the Episode changed that.
That said, from an aspiring author POV, it is still very much worthy of study, for the following three reasons, chief among others:
1.) If you want to learn how to write dialogue and interesting characters, you will find no better model than Arthicern's work.
2.) The world is remarkably well-established even within the very limited space of 19 chapters. The magic is interesting; the societal institutions are fascinating; and the history is compelling. Everything is well-thought out.
3.) The presentation of all world-building and characterization elements is so subtle that you may forget you're reading a story. Nothing feels like an info dump and every presentation of world/character detail feels like a natural consequence of the circumstances the characters find themselves in.
The only flaw I can find on this sparkling gem is an inattention to editing... This, however, is easily solved, and were it solved, Deviant's Masquerade would be publishable and I think hugely successful.
(If I were forced to choose another flaw, though, I'd point out that the cover is rather unappealing. "Don't judge a book by its cover!" you say. But you know damn well that that's precisely what everyone does.)