A Journey of Black and Red
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Where am I? What is this! I... I don't remember anything. I am in chains? Why am I in chains?! And why am I so very...
This is a story of vampires as I believe they should be, with their strengths and weaknesses, with their remnants of humanity and the beast inside. Updates every Friday. Mind the tags.
Cover by Antti Hakosaari: https://www.artstation.com/haco
Special thanks to Svensonsen for getting me started, as well as Omi Nya, Jemima, my patrons and you dear readers, for the support.
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I agree with author's depiction of vampires, but I don't like reading horror stories...so good job but this one's not for me.
My review will be quite a lot harsher than the others, so I’m preparing myself to get downvoted into oblivion.
I dropped A Journey of Black and Red at chapter 41 and it left me with a terrible aftertaste. The story starts really well for the 15 first chapters or so. After that, in my opinion, the story loses its essence. It doesn’t become bad but it becomes so much less. If the beginning is a 8 in my book, what follows is a 6 at best (I explain my rating system at the end of the review).
So, what was the essence of the story ? Let me quote the description : “This is a story of vampires as I believe they should be, with their strengths and weaknesses, with their remnants of humanity and the beast inside.” The important part for me was “remnants of humanity and the beast inside”.
The beginning of the story does that just well. We can see Ariane fight to survive, to maintain her sanity, to resist drowning in the thirst, to stay herself. There is a feeling of horror, of something visceral. You don’t know if she will be able to escape in one piece.
This feeling is supported by intelligent writing that shows how much Ariane is in control of herself. You also have nightmares haunting her. There is an adequacy between the content and the form.
On a side note, A Journey of Black and Red have a nice use of time jumps. The story is not afraid to use them to focus on the interesting parts.
The world setting is interesting but not perfect. The story takes place in a time period rarely seen in fantasy, the problem comes from the fact that it takes place on Earth with Earth history. You can’t have our history when the world is filled with vampires, mages, magical beasts and other things, many of them immortals or living for centuries. Magic should be common knowledge but no reason is presented as to why it is not.
After chapter 15, the story takes its essence and throws it out of the window. Instead of the visceral feeling, you just follow the merry and bloody misadventures of overpowered and plot armored perfect little vampire Ariane. Entirely forgotten is “remnants of humanity and the beast inside”. The story being bloody is not sufficient to bring in the horror.
In my opinion the story should have either stopped in an apotheosis at chapter 20 with Ariane embracing her new vampire self, or continuing by making the fight for sanity and humanity harder and harder as she grows stronger.
I can’t continue my review without going into spoiler territory, so stop here if you don’t want to be spoiled.
// Spoiler begin //
This part will be quite ranty as I really felt betrayed. It started so well, why do this to the story ? It didn’t deserve it.
First, why is there a Terry Pratchett’s character in this novel ? I am talking about Rutherford Bingle. In my opinion he marks the beginning of the end. At first you think the tone of the novel just changes for one arc to bring something refreshing, a bit of a lighter mood. But instead it never goes back.
You have to realize that the change in quality around chapter 15 is not brutal but something more insidious. The quality of the writing and characters seems to be the same but in fact lost something fondamental.
Ariane just became the perfect little vampire doing everything better than every other vampire. With almost no guidance in how to be a vampire she figures everything herself at first try. She has the broken bloodline of the devourer making herself incredibly strong incredibly fast. Everyone saying she is so good and licking her pussy so much Niagara Falls look like a desert by comparaison.
Mentally there is not a single bit of humanity left in her. What is a vampire mentality you ask ? A monster of the night ? No. Just being a big asshole is what makes you a good vampire. She seems to have figured everything out only one or two years after becoming a vampire. Ariane saying she wants to go cattle shopping was the last straw for me. Seriously, where is the “remnants of humanity”.
And please don’t say to me the few phrases written in bold represent the “beast inside”. It’s just some impulses. Myself I want to muder someone three times per day by breaking all their bones or some other fucked up shit. Does this make me a vampire ? No, it just makes me human. If this is really what is supposed to be the beast inside then call me not impressed, just some dog all bark no bite. We could have had Ariane waking up one night realising she has no memory of having just massacred a whole village but no, instead we have perfect sparkly Ariane.
I would have liked some innovation in terms of the powers given to vampires. Instead you have the whole shebang apart from them being able to transform into bats. There is even the rule that they can’t enter a place without being invited. This rule just seems to appear out of nowhere in the story. It was never stated, at one point Ariane just needs to be invited to enter places.
All humans are represented in a pathetic way. They just serve the function of walking blood pinatas for the enjoyment of our mighty hunter Ariane. The encounter between Ariane and Dalton felt very strange to me, you have just Dalton starting to follow Arianne for no reason at all.
I like how the time jumps are handled in the story, and I think the one that jumped the conclave was well done. It’s just that the conclave was the only thing I was looking forward to. Having it jumped made continuing to read the story really hard.
// Spoiler end //
This part is not in direct relation with the review. It’s to explain how I rate books.
I don’t like the 5 stars rating system. Every site that relies on this system tends to heavily overrate, whatsoever the media (book, movie, series, video games…). I largely prefer notation on 10.
I also don’t like the advanced review system. In my opinion, different books should be noted on different criteria. If I take an example, if an extreme one, why should I rate poetry based on character score ? Make no sense. Moreover, as a reader, I put a lot of importance in worldbuilding, and there is no score on this particular criterion.
Here is how I score out of 10 :
- 10 : Masterpiece
- 9 : Favorite
- 8 : Highly recommended
- 7 : Recommended
- 6 : Enjoyable
- 5 : Readable
- 4 : Painful
- 3 and below : level of garbage (I rarely rate this low because I am mostly smart enough to not read them to begin with)
There is a huge gap in my mind between a 6 and a 7. You have to understand that I don’t actually recommend reading a 6.
I rate softly on RR, meaning that if I have a doubt between two notes I will take the highest of the two.
So, how does this translate on the Royal Road 5 stars system ?
- 5 stars : 8 and above. As you can see, the full five stars cover a lot of range quality wise.
- 4,5 stars : 7 (Recommended)
- 3,5 stars : 6 (Enjoyable)
- 2,5 stars : 5 (Readable)
- 2 stars : 4 (Painful)
Here you go. You now know how I rate novels.
After reading the title description i was immediately atrracted. The story started fresh and intriguing and i was expectant of what the author has in store for his readers.
Buuuut.. the story so far has become mediocre. I feel that the female lead's character is unstable, inconsistent. The interactions has become shallow (best scene for me is still the reveal) and I'm not really a big fan of the author using needless chatter, FL talking to herself, in exhange for a proper naration and or description. It breaks what ever atmosphere was initially in there.
I wished there were more different perspectives, a different side of the story in the eyes of another character to shed more light on the vampire world/society. The story is progressing but i think with no goal or proper direction.
I started reading this due to the cross-over with Azarinth Healer - however, nothing eventuated from that after she landed in the river. Many many chapters later and I'm struggling to get involved with the MC and finding it really hard to come back to each chapter and read what feels like should be a really good story. I'm sorry, but this writing style is not for me.
The plot itself was so intriguing in the beginning that I couldn't stop reading, however, there is something that forced me to stop and that is the MC taking some extremely illogical decisions.
A good read. nice world building and easy to understand characters.
however i have to drop this at chapter ~70 after too much political intrigue stuff.
I started just skipping entire paragraphs and now barely remember the last 20 chapters because of it.