(Formerly: Tales of a Harrowed House)
This is the tale of an exiled royal family who, after their bloody reunion on the island of Providence, return to a war-torn homeland where once more, powerful forces pit sibling against sibling in a bid for the crown — and once more, the magical streets of Auctor echo their infamous motto:
“Fire will Reign as Harrowbirds Soar!”
From his humble beginnings as a shoemaker’s son, his year spent as a daringly brazen orphan caught between rivaling Houses and a mad ghost, and his fight for the crown after his return to Auctor, Corbyn faces a coming-of-age story unlike any before him as he discovers magic and birthright are two things he never knew he had.
From the intimate narrative of a childhood that was never her own, her year spent struggling to find the person she is rather than the person her family needs her to be, the secrets she hides, and the truths she finds, Halle discovers herself on the fabled island of Providence as her House collapses around her, bids to enter a legendary school of magic in her homeland of Auctor, and fights for a crown she never knew she wanted.
A high-action, character-focused story written with a poet’s styling, The Harrowbird’s Crown is a tale that will transport readers into the conflict and conquest of a royal family back on the rise.
This story is more traditionally plotted. While the beginning may seem to start out slowly, when shit hits the fan: the action is constant, the mysteries are satisfying, and the character development is rewarding.
Chapters are usually between 2.5-3.5 thousand words (though some, like the first and second chapters, can run up to 5k words). When it’s long it means that the chapter will just have that much content in it.
There’s Action, Mystery, Fantasy, Comedy, and some Psychological undertakings. Romance hasn’t come up yet, but it may in future chapters.
I try to have chapters out every Sunday at 7:00 CST
Book One: The Ghost of Providence
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Things in terms of plot here have only just gotten to turning quickly, and there are many directions it all could go. I will say, however, that it has a lot of promise and is worth keeping up with.
Style: Many of the scenery descriptions are lovely and evocative. The overall voice of the story itself is mature and solemn, and there's a strong sense of drama that works well.
Grammar: It's quite good, with only small mistakes here and there.
Story: It can get confusing at times (and I'm going to be vague to avoid spoilers, since it's a story better read with a readiness to be surprised). Plot beats happen and relationships can disintegrate without a lot of context. Sometimes later developments make them feel earned in hindsight as pieces of the mystery are dropped, and sometimes they don't. There are so many moving threads at this moment that it's hard to tell what will pay off. We are flat-out told that there are problems on Providence rather than shown, so there's a missed chance to build a sense of dread and wonder. Perhaps some things could be made more explicit. There are tons of hints of some fascinating worldbuilding to come, though.
Character: There's a lot of great stuff here. Halle is incredibly dynamic, Olivur holds a lot of mystery and foreboding about him, Vendor Pice has both questionable loyalty and sanity to delightful effect, and Hugh is much more than the simple bully he first appears as. I felt a slight disconnect with Corbyn, as so much happened so quickly that it didn't feel like he properly processed or even commented on some things. He's likable though, and he works as a protagonist, but I'm much more drawn to Hugh, for example, as he shows a lot of heart in the interlude chapter with one of his personal relationships being highlighted. Overall, it's a great cast, and they draw me back in.
Essentially, this is a story that has to follow through on its potential, and I do think it will. Looking forward to the chapters to come.
Tales of a Harrowed House by Corvus M. Handly is not something you typically see on Royal Road. In a platform where most of the story strive for accessible writing and adolescent literature, this story strikes you with layers upon layers of nuances, meticulous word choices, and a generally well-thought out story atmosphere.
The most noticeable aspect about this book is how advanced the prose is. The author has clearly spent much time and thoughts on every single words, and they oozes with rich imagery that drive their intentions. The prose gives a general sense of looming menace, which bodes the tale of the little boy Corbin and the mystery in the isolated island very well. There is an omnipresent uneasiness throughout the chapters as the readers are made to face the unknown through the lenses of the characters.
Another catalyst for the book is conflict. There is realistic, human conflict between the characters in every step, ones that often propel the plot to new heights. From Hugh Lightly to Esmerée, each character shows sensible frustrations that foreshadow the bigger plot.
The grammar for this book is spot on. There was not a single error I can find. If you're looking for a thick read with plenty of mystery and fantasy elements, this is the one for you.
Wow, okay, umm, that was something...
I was surprised when the author asked me to review his work. I mean, I've been banned twice now for my ”over the top” and ”mean-spirited” reviews. They've even been taken down. I'm not saying there's a conspiracy, but people don't seem to like what I have to say when I say it. So, again, surprised to be invited.
First of all, to clear the air, I don't hate the authors on royalroad. I offer valuable criticism to amateur writers who may not hear the hard truth they need to step their game up.
And with that out of the way, I have to say, Corvus Handly (a pen name, I'm assuming) is one of the most talented writers I've seen in a long time. He was a bit cocky inviting me over, knowing what I do, but compared to what I've seen of Royal Road, he stands with the brightest future. At least in the style of classical literature. His writing reminds me a bit of Patrick Rothfuss with less poetics but a more literary effort. We’ll have to see if fantasy is his genre or if classical fiction is.
The general structure and the plot of this could be improved. A lot of things could be improved. But with a bit of polish, I think this author can offer something valuable. Maybe not in this book, maybe not in the next, but I've looked at his first work, ”At Wit’s End”. Judging from the authors notes and updates there, he was maybe 17-18 when he wrote it. It's not that great, but to see the shift from that writing to this in just a couple of years is astounding to put in perspective.
The atmosphere, the vernacular, the eerie mystique, it’s an entire level above what Royal Road has to offer, and what he had to offer with his debut. I see it as an authors first attempt at writing a book with publishing in mind, a noble pursuit.
But the first step on a path this arduous is never perfect. Handly, take the effort to keep improving. I'm going to keep tabs on you. You're worth the time, but only so long as I see you keep moving forward.
I'm going to rate you well here because I see potential, but if you don't come through, I'm going to litter this work with one stars.
I'm going to rate you 5 overall. It'd be an unfair thing to rate this below that when I see so many ”interesting” books here (but if this was goodreads...You know what I mean).
A star needs to be taken away from the style score. You don't know your market, Handly. This is a little out of the wheelhouse of Royal Road readers. Don't tone down the language, it'll serve you well if you prep this for competitions, but it’s a little too advanced for this site.
I jotted a notebook’s worth of criticism down, some annotations, plus some advice for moving forward. I've sent it to you already, so check your inbox.
Contact me again when the book comes along a little further. If you can keep improving like I asked, and this story follows through on its potential, I'll try to help you find a publisher. It may not be for this book, but I see talent enough to merit a sit down.
Sub-title: ...overly confusing style.
The style is convoluted and it’s easy to lose yourself in a sentence, making you read it again. And again. Sometimes I had to read one sentence three times to make sense of it.
The commas are used to a minimum where they should be used more.
Overall, though, the style is still fine and readable. In particular, the dialogues are quite well-made, with good accents, and the internal monologues are good.
4 out of 5
5 out of 5
The world and the story start tiny, confined in a “speck of dust” as they say so rightly, but through storytelling, it let you see the potential of the future, how big both the world and the story can be and, if the start is a bit slow, it’s work for building solid foundations
4.5 out of 5
It’s interesting because, at first, you find your usual stereotype of characters but then, suddenly, those stereotypes turn very human and quite a bit more complex than you would have thought at first.
5 out of 5.
If the daunting style used by the author is more a rampart between you and the story than anything else, crossing this wall is worth your time and focus, as the story and characters behind it are very interesting and well-grounded, with a living, sprawling world.
5 out of 5
- Stray thoughts :
My rant about the difficult style isn’t personal. I liked the Silmarillion and its epic, old style, but that was because this style added something to the book.
Here, the convoluted style doesn’t really add anything to the story but confusion.
I think it’s the first time I’m ranting about the style of a book. Most of the time, it’s the story that is jarring but, here, the story is great.