Shade Touched

by Zat

Warning This fiction contains:
  • Gore
  • Profanity

A monster is born in the depths of the wilds, but she isn't like her siblings. Curiosity colors her every thought, and a hunger for understanding grows within this little creature. The world is full of wonders just waiting to be discovered! She's not just hunting for her next meal, her prey is something far greater: knowledge. But as wonderful as it is, discovery alone is missing half the point. After all, what joy is there in finding the next amazing thing when there's no one to share it with?


Aiming to update Monday and Friday!

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Cover art by the amazing Kailey!
Twitter
@kbearart 

Full-size cover here.

Full banner pic here.

Gore tag for some somewhat graphic fight scenes.
Profanity tag because there may be a few swear words, it shouldn't be excessive.

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  • Grammar Score
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Author
Zat

Zat

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Table of Contents
Chapter Name Release Date
1. Beginnings ago
2. Swarm ago
3. Balancing ago
4. Daylight ago
5. Creatures ago
6. Plans ago
7. Hope ago
8. Introductions ago
9. Oversight ago
10. Thinkers ago
11. Learning ago
12. Sleeping ago
13. Mending ago
14. Storage ago
15. Home ago
16. Research ago
17. Danger ago
18. Struggle ago
19. Warmth ago
20. Pondering ago
21. Letters ago
22. Growing ago
23. Trapped ago
24. Stolen ago
25. Consequences ago
26. Knowledge ago
27. Arrival ago
28. Pitch ago
29. Walking ago
30. Tag ago
31. Inns ago
32. Food ago
33. Convincing ago
34. Kids ago
35. Meetings ago
36. Hidden ago
37. Caught ago
38. Fire ago
39. Confluence ago
40. Dousing ago
41. Aftermath ago
42. Morning ago
43. Beastkin ago
44. Tailor ago
45. Clothes ago
46. Pricing ago
47. Leaving ago
48. Goodbyes ago
49. Outside ago
50. Magic ago
51. Elements ago
52. Hunting ago
53. Heights ago
54. Leaping ago
55. Branches ago
56. Finished ago
57. Propriety ago
58. Samples ago
59. Aspects ago
60. Swimming ago
61. Camp ago
62. Awakening ago
63. Sparring ago
64. Babies ago
65. Identity ago
66. Caravan ago
67. Town ago
68. Market ago
69. Haggling ago
70. Thief ago
71. Tricked ago
72. Kidnappers ago
73. Recovery ago
74. Emotions ago
75. Waiting ago
76. Questioning ago
77. Stressed ago
78. Bath ago

Leave a review

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Reviews
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Nameless32
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Curiosity Didn't Kill This Cat

Reviewed at: 6. Plans

This is going to hit trending hard, I can already tell. It has all the signs: premise that's a big twist on a normal trope, beautiful cover, sizeable following at the one-month mark, and, of course, brilliant writing. Let me break it down for you.

First, style. Somehow, the author has managed to make their writing emulate the POV of a curious animal with admirable consistency. Every scene feels like you're looking out of MC's eyes, and every thought feels like her own. Mind you, this is while still maintaining a rich vocabulary and sentence variation, which is a feat in and of itself. Amazing job here, Zat.

Grammar is, as always, my shortest category. I didn't notice anything, so it's a big 5 for me. 

Story-wise, we have a weird combination of a lot of action and a more slice-of-life type of pacing. Mind you, weird in the absolute best way. I highly wish we had more types like this, that managed to balance these two aspects in perfect harmony. We get little mini-conflicts every chapter, and it looks like at the end of chapter 5 we're headed into a wider, more intense conflict. 

And finally, characters. I normally consider a story's characters worse if the MC is the only one that really stands out, but that's kind of unfair for this story considering that so far, the only other possible characters are MC's instinct-driven siblings that are there for the sole purpose of not being characters.

I also can't judge based on the level of depth, since MC isn't supposed to think deeply like a human. So, I'm just going to give a 5 because MC acts exactly as I'd imagine a curious monster-swarm creature would act. Oh, and did I mention it's super cute? Well, it is. Monsters can be cute, guys. My heart nearly blew up from cuteness on chapter three. (Oh, and cuteness is another +1 for trending!)

Overall, definitely keep an eye out for this story. I almost guarantee it'll be top of trending, and when it does, you'll be glad that you picked it up early. Great pacing, prose, characters (well, character atm), and just about everything you'd want in this type of story!

FoxFace24
Overall

I never thought a story about a shadowy lizard monster would make me go "awww".  The wonder and innocence is like a balm for the soul. I'll be with this story to the end. 

Briizy
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

PLEASANTLY SURPRISED & PHENOMENALLY WRITTEN

Reviewed at: 5. Creatures

I will not lie. I'm very biased towards fantasy, and this story checks off all of my boxes.

The only thing I could complain about is the short paragraphs--but that is the nature of e-readers. I'm very biased towards the longer, more traditional paragraphs. The fact that this is the only thing I could complain about tells you something!

The style of this author is so clear and concise, and the flow between paragraphs is well done. I envy the way Zat conveys this story, it is something I cannot achieve as a writer and the praise this story is getting is well deserved. 

The characters are amazing and realistic--which is something given the MC is a lizard monster. I found myself wanting to learn more about them, and follow them through this journey. They're simple thoughts, which ties into the style that was intended for this story. I'm impressed that reading about a monster/non-human MC is so enthralling. 

Overall, this is a phenomenal read. It deserves it spot on trending, and it deserves to be top rated on the site :)

Vowron Prime
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Do you have a cat friend? No? Well, this story will make you wish you did

Reviewed at: 25. Consequences

 That is, a cat that's as intelligent as a human, criminally adorable, innocent and curious, and just downright compelling in every single dimension.

This is the chronicle of a beast's journey to becoming something more - a fully-sapient, intelligent lifeform in a world where such a thing is both anomalous and fear-inducing.

I can't say much more without spoiling the story, but this is one of the most well-written, engaging, and fun reads on this site, regardless of your interests or preferences. I myself am an SF/Fantasy action junkie, but this story had no issues capturing my interest and keeping it the entire way.

Character

This story has no real weaknesses, but for me, the characters really stand out as a strength, above and beyond the other elements. This story is really all about the protagonist, our adorable, fierce feline, a stranger in a strange land.

Her development as an individual, from how she uses her superior intellect to aid her chances at survival, to later on when she progresses to higher-level, more abstract thinking, her development progression is just superb. Pacing is perfect, she comes across as more three-dimensional and complex than most human characters, yet she retains a core curiosity and innocence that both makes her lovable and continuously drives her to explore new heights for her self.

Now let's talk side characters. They're great. The author has a real knack for making his characters - even antagonists and ones we've only met briefly - come to life. From their verbal tics to their body language and mannerisms, both of the supporting characters are superbly done. I talk a bit more about this below in the spoiler tag, which contains some spoilers up to ~chapter 10:

Spoiler: Spoiler

 I really have nothing to criticize here. The main and sides are loveable and likable, and the antagonists are delectably hateable. Can't really do better than that!

Grammar

Perfect. I know most of my reviews say similar things, but I tend to only post reviews well-written stories. This one stands out as being a cut above, and easily one of the very best in RR. I spotted perhaps three or four errors total in all of the 25 chapters I read. Sentences flow from one to the next, paragraphing is well-executed, and the prose is clearly written by someone who has a high talent for the art.

Style

This is a tough one for me to comment on, not because it's poor - quite the opposite - but because unlike some other stories that are just dripping in flourish, this story takes a relatively milder approach. The prose disappears, which is among the highest praise I can give to it. It lets you dive into what really matters - the protagonist's adventures, her emotions, her sense of wonder at a shockingly vast world, and I really believe that the perfectly-sized sentences, the right words used at the right times, the delightful interjections, and the varied vocabulary all help contribute to that experience.

In short(or long), it's just perfect, and easily one of the best I've come across on RoyalRoad. This is really an easy, enjoyable read.

Story

Oh boy, the story. How am I going to talk about this without spoilers? It's pretty frikkin' glorious. Don't expect a fantasy epic, because this story isn't that. It moves a bit too fast to be called a slice of life, but Adventure fits it to the T. Adventures are filled with wonder, curiosity, dangers, new encounters, and the hope of fulfillment at the end. This story delivers all of that in spades. In fact, I think Shade Touched captures the very essence of this genre more than any other adventure story I've read on this site, distilling it into its purest form.

There is little drama here, only a genuine, innocent curiosity to boldly go where no scary-but-cute-intelligent-and-innocent-cat-monster has gone before!

Read it. It's worth your time. Especially because you're getting it for free. So be thankful to the author for sharing their imagination with the world.

Because it's a gift.

jonnnney
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

The story is a unique and endearing take on the traditional special/intelligent monster story. A swarm monster is born with a bit of curiousity and appreciation of beauty. That spark of curiousity changes it's whole life to both it's benefit and detriment.

carebear90
Overall

Non-Human Lead with a Non-Human Mind

Reviewed at: 44. Tailor

(reviewing at chapter 44)

It's cute, it's funny and let's you take a look at culture through the lense of an alien mind. 

This monster-lead really is an animal that somehow achieved sapience. Not an otherwise human mind that somehow got transferred into a monster body. I don't see that often and done as well as here even less.

So far, the main plot point seems to be the main character genuinely discovering and learning about civilisation for the first time. So if you are looking for fast paced carnage and action, because the lead is a monster, then this story is probably not for you.

On the contrary. Conflicts are more often than not of a social nature. Doesn't mean, there is absolutly no violence, but it definitely takes a backseat. (at least so far)

The characters are great, the style is pretty lighthearted. I didn't notice any jarring issues with grammar, but I'm not the best person to judge that.

All in all a great read.

SmolShrimpa
Overall

Unique, engaging, and fun!

Reviewed at: 17. Danger

Shade Touched is a unique, wholesome story set in a rich and interesting fantasy world. I love the main character, I love learning more about the magic and creatures of her world, and I always look forward to the next chapter!

Pleonastic Name
Overall
Style
Story
Grammar
Character

Non-Human Made Interesting

Reviewed at: 40. Dousing

This is a really wholesome story that desperately needs direction. Often times, without a plot immediately presenting itself, readers will lose focus (especially on this site with the average attention span hovering around 3 seconds). That isn't the case here. Even slice of life stories supposedly need direction, and yet the author has created a character who is interesting enough on their own.

Minor spoilers maybe (idk, just being safe).

Style: I especially liked the style. It's refreshing to read a non-human MC story that doesn't feel too distant and detached. My only minor, teeny tiny complaint is that I think the author spends a little too much time inside the MC's head in the earlier chapters.

Story: Not sure where the story is going, but it’s going. I hope a major plot line will pick up soon so I can change this part. (Yes, I actually do change my reviews, frequently)

Grammar: Perfect.

Characters: Other than the MC and Annie, the characters are a little flat. The generic, know-nothing towns people are generic: old news. You could make the argument that this is by design, but there's an extent to which I'm willing to go along with that idea. Of course, that's just me stretching for some health criticism; the MC, Annie, and to and Jonas to a lesser extent, are very well written. It's hard to write a non-human character and not have them come across as a caricature or just a child, and this treads that line, but I think the author has done great job there.

darkseven
Overall

A short (but growing) journey with surprising emotional depth!

Reviewed at: 21. Letters

Its still early stages but I really enjoy the direction this novel went.

Pros:

  • Curious and clever MC
  • Inhuman MC
  • Strong well portrayed emotions. The moments of discovery feel very real!

Cons:

  • Not very long (yet)
  • ???
Toma
Overall

Down-votes go here

Reviewed at: 24. Stolen

I am most likely going to get a bit of hate for this, but I don't believe this story deserves the praise it's getting.
I want to stress that this is in no way objective; There is no way for me to be objective. So please, read this and understand it is my review. I'm sorry if this in some way offends anyone, it is not my intention.

I'll start with the better parts:
The grammar is good compared to most stories here. You can tell the author knows what he's doing at least, and he uses more than the most elementary words. Everything from fights to descriptions flows quite well outside of a few repeating words(which are not a big deal).
The characters(as far as we know them) are also well defined in their way, and the same could go for the tidbits of world-building we've had dropped so far.

Seeing as the most crucial parts of a good story are all in check, you might be wondering why I had given it only three stars. If so, you'd be missing an essential part of writing, especially on the internet; And that is a hook. A personal touch. Something that makes this stand out from the hundreds and thousands of other stories attempting to do the same. Frankly, "Shade Touched" has nothing of the sort.

People in other reviews have mentioned this story is boring, and I believe that is not an apt term seeing as it is tagged as slice-of-life. Not every chapter has to be thrilling. And the developments can be as slow as the author sees fit. I think it's better to say that this story is dull, rather than boring.

Our main character has nothing to set her apart from every single "Cute MC" out there. Excuse me for not linking examples for comparison, but suffice to say there is nothing imaginative here. "Shadow" could be in any other story where someone is "reincarnated" into a monster, and it would feel right. She'd fit in perfectly. And this isn't one of those Isekai stories, that says something. Why go the length to create a human in a different body? Where is the creativity? I can understand the want to make a memorable character, someone who isn't bound by our body. But when you use the body of a different creature to express that, you're using a shortcut(it doesn't lead anywhere, just a sign) such form of writing seems empty to me. I realize the hurdle of trying to write something that doesn't think as you do, but that is what distinguishes "Non-Human MCs", it's why(I believe) people read these stories. They want something different. Those people will not find any of that here. Not in terms of characters, not in terms of world-building and not even in the written style.
I mentioned there was a bit of world-building before, and I wrote that it was well defined so far. How could I say that barely knowing about said world-building? The author has not raised one different or captivating idea. His design of monsters and magic conforms to that of everything I've read here before. It seems well defined to me because I already know it. I knew this world before I read about it.
All of that regarding the world-building could be fine if the author managed to nail the rest. But he hasn't. As I've mentioned, our characters are bland and offer no contrast to the world they're set in. Their thought process and actions are predictable. They feel just real enough to be believable but don't go any further than that to engross us in their personalities.
The only saving grace here is that the descriptions are clear and concise. There were barely any points in which I had to re-read something or stop to understand what was going on.
But the writing too, as I have mentioned, doesn't stand out apart from being above average for RR.

Hopefully, I have managed to get the point across: This story is not engaging. It could very well be intentional the author wrote something simple in form, either way, I believe my points against their work still stand.