[cover photo by Alice Alinari on Unsplash]
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This might jjust be yet 'another explanation of things at the end' kind of thing. Not too sure how things work together yet. It might turn out better in the future with the plot, yet I'm not actually sure if it has even started by what I've reached.
Looking past that nosensival piece of text, I would say that this is an more average piece of fiction from RR. The style, grammar, and characters are alright but not something I would call perfect. Good enough to read but not enough to put in my faves. 4/5
This review is written after reading up until the end of what I think is the first arc of the story (blame my anime brain), the Office and the Spoon arc. I will continue reading through the later chapters, and I have to say I am very impressed by the writing here on a few levels.
The prologue starts from a distance using a third-person perspective, but then swiftly brings us directly into the headspace of Aevlin as she was thrown into her first bout of adventure. An office life.
Initially, I thought that this story will go down a typical route of using a throw-away arc to build up the main character(s) before getting to the main plotlines, though this is by no means the anime/manga-style of a first arc, the way dialogue, thoughts, and world-building are layered and intertwined together makes this read very engaging.
Though, to no fault of this story, I was expecting a little more in the first arc, just because of my past tendancies more so than the writing and plotting. For those that enjoy character pieces and a slower burn, this is totally for you. I do love the steps taken by Aevlin to put herself in a position to speak with the King though.
The grammar is excellent, and as someone that uses Grammarly, gosh that's a lot of words I don't know.
Of the characters we have seen so far, I enjoyed Eliot a lot. His demeanor and poise come through the page, and the little guessing games between Aevlin and Eliot is just straight up fun as he reminds me of those eccentric old professors that you never know what's going on in their heads.
The world-building and the magic system is extremely mature, and the world felt lived in in the truest sense of the world while maintaining some fantasy vibes. The magic system was subtle and not overbearing, with talks of geography and culture being sprinkled through the dialogue.
All and all, as a fellow writer, even though I enjoy much faster-paced stories, the quality of writing here is undeniable. Keep chopping wood and keep writing!
Ghost's Girl is a slow paced, atmospheric story that feels magical. The narrative moves between flashbacks and real time. At first, these switches are disorienting, but that back and forth motion starts to work around chapter 5. It's the kind of story that you need to just let carry you along.
The plot moves at a very measured pace. Mystery has center stage, and while action will probably play a role later, it isn't really present within the first chapters. Honestly, readers probably won't miss the action. The atmosphere is great, and the settings are easy to visualize. The world feels like something from the 1800s, and the magic system is subtle, which gives the whole story an almost historical tinge.
Most of the characters are also very likeable. Avelin, who goes by the name Avery, is many things. She's an apprentice lawmaker, a wood worker, and a mage. She's very level-headed, which at times gives a sort of detached impression from the events going on around her. It makes sense as she is unmoored from society, but it did take me a while to identify with her. As the story progressed, I felt that she was more invested.
The other characters are interesting and have genuine motives of their own. The cast grows slowly, and some of the new characters are meant to be liked. Some are meant to be hated.
The style is first person, and the prose is formal. It has an old feel, kind of like something I would read from the era of Sherlock holmes. I think it suits the story and works well, especially when characters discuss their deductions concerning crimes. However, it does mean this is the kind of story best read in quiet. The first person style helps the mystery, but it also ensures that you can't really solve anything on your own. The reader exists firmly in the head of Avery, so you'll know what she knows, when she's ready to share it.
The grammar is good. There were a couple of slip ups that I tripped over, but I also wasn't compelled to correct them. Most readers probably won't notice.
While the story is wonderful, readers might feel wayward at the beginning. I strongly suggest reading through chapter five before deciding whether or not to continue. Also, study the blurb. Make sure you know the details. If, like me, you miss one or two, you will also miss some of the earlier plotting. I felt like I had a good handle on everything, but that wayward feeling returned around chapter 14. This is a turning point for the story, and the story pivots again in chapter 17.
The chapters are on the longer side for Royal Road, perhaps in general, so it's not a quick read between activities, more of a dedicated read. Just a heads up.
My final criticism is that the ghost girl - Avery isn't being used to much effect. She's in the background, which is fine by me (more on that later), but other readers might want to see her have some agency. She gets more screen time as the story moves forward, but she still lacks any kind of agency. I'm also not quite sure how her existence works. Right now, she's a mirror for her living sister. Her importance to the story is secondary.
Now, I personally don't mind if Avery ever evolves. I find Avery's presence a bit unsettling, and I seem to be at odds with the main character, who finds the ghost a comfort. Just the concept of having your dead twin follow you around is scary to me. I have some experience with the whole matter, not the dead part, the twin part. I definitely don't like Avery.
Overall, this is a great story. Treat it like a river, let it pull you along, and read till chapter 5 before you decide whether or not it's for you.