Summon Imp!

How the other side lives

In so many games and works of fiction it's common place to have a hero class of summoner that is able to bring forth fantastical beasts to perform some goal or attack.  So what happens to those fantastical beasts when they aren't being summoned, and where did they come from?

Summon Imp answers that as we explore the entire life of an Imp that is subjected to this repeatedly.  When I say "the entire life", we literally start out with the imp as they are in an egg and about to hatch.  I found the first several chapters to be really interesting as we can see the main character explore their world as everything is new to them.  We explore their thoughts as they gain genetic knowlege about somethings and have to figure out others for themselves.

Our author and guide to this story has clearly done a tremendous amount of research or exploration of their own in how various animal species interact with their own kind, communicate, and how they might interact with the world around them.  The Swarm, or demon kind, pull from a wide variety of different terrestrial species and mash up into something new that feels grounded and plausible.  Oskatat does a great job in painting his world with rich details and vibrant imagery.  As an artist, I could easily invision the creatures and scenes that they have prepared.

From the summary, you might think that this is one of those stories in which the universe is constantly taking a dump on the main character.  Some authors are into that kind of thing I guess, I've thrown aside many a manga that seemed to be entirely focused on all the surrounding characters treating the MC like crap.  Thankfully this isn't one of them.  Don't get me wrong, our little impy buddy gets dumped on a lot and has to struggle quite a bit, but he is feisty and will fight back as much as he can.

I found a handful of typos but nothing egregious.  Some people have very strong feelings about present tense narration, but I am not one of them.  If you are, then hopefully you can look past it.

The power progression here is a slow one and there are still many unanswered questions, but I feel it's worth the price of admission to stay the course and enjoy this for what it is.  It's a slice-of-life and a slow-burn plot.

A Stranger in Sorcererstown (The Stranger Trails Saga)

Our main character is the only one in the story that fits the description of a Gun Slinger, however the style and feel of the book has all the trappings of a speghetti western, though hung on the backdrop of a world with powerful and arcane magic.  the blending of the two, works wonderfully and Jon does a great job of bringing the characters to life.  He is also skilled at slowing down the pace when needed, in order to show you the scene and paint the visuals in your mind.  Something that my own work could take a lesson from.

Sorcerertown is home to several different schools of magic and is considered to be the magical capital of the world.  This should mean that Sorcerertown would be prosperous, but instead the schools are at eachother's throats and the town has fallen to ruin as it's caught in the crossfire.  "No where else will you find a more retched hive of scum and villainy."  The stranger plays the role of an agent of chaos and maneuvers the powers that be to march to his own tune.

The only hit this story takes from me was a handful of typos and comma usage, but nothing that should disrupt your enjoyment or that couldn't be cleaned up via a professional editing pass.

The Dweeb Prince and the Eight Cursed Princesses

A harem title that promises not to be a harem title

A tale as old as time, a song as old as ryhme.. Boy meets girl, they fall into an antagonistic relationship, boy unleashes 8 curses into the world, girl turns into fish... We all know it.

I grew up reading loads of manga in high school, the likes of Ranma 1/2, Urusei Yatsura, and others.  Reading this felt very nastalgic.  It hit many MANY of the different tropes you come to expect from these sorts of titles from Violent Girl That Hides Her True Feelings to The Lucky Letcher.  At the end of the day, I felt like our boy Hashbrown wasn't rehashing (sorry, I couldn't resist) Yet Another Cliche'd Manga story, but was instead writing a love letter to those stories that spawned all those tropes in the first place.  Hash has a full understanding of these tropes and knows how to leverage them.  THEN, he twists them around a bit to bring you somewhere that you weren't expecting.

 The only hangups that I had when reading, were I got the sense that English isn't Hash's first language and the grammer, word selection, and sentence structure suffered for it.  That said, Hash is doing his best, and takes constructive crits well and is open to corrections to improve his craft.  The other hangup I had was with how action is depected.  If his work is a manga, I rarely felt the "speed lines" from his depictions.  Our MC is a thinker not a fighter so the action doesn't come often, but I'd love to see Hash give us that intensity that should come with an anime action scene, as much as he gives us the comic feels from the rest of his work.

I recommend checking this out if you love classic fairy tales, old school manga, and MCs that would rather talk their way out of trouble.

The Courting of Life and Death

I will begin by stating that this is not my chosen genre, and I'm only a handful of chapters in.  That out of the way, I've been enjoying the story and its characters.  VMJaskiernia does a wonderful job of capturing the victorian age in the early chapters and then maintaining a gothic feel going on.

They keep their character count small (thus far), allowing more time for each character to get some spot light and grow.  Much of the story (again, thus far) plays out in conversations and the musings of our characters, with the setting being confined to a single room.

Do not for a moment mistake this as disparaging, for quite the opposite.  In fact, the author uses the limited space and setting to build a rich world that exists outside of that room.  As the characters talk about the outside world, we ,the readers, begin to question what else is out there?  How do these magics work? What is the connection between this, and that?

When reading, I am left with questions about where the story will go, and the meaning of things.  As an author, sparking these sorts of questions is exactly what one must do, for they stimulate the reader to dive further into your world to find those answers.  VMJ does just that.