CookieCrumble

CookieCrumble

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The Courting of Life and Death

While most of the novel on this site rides on excitement to keep us, readers, on tenterhook, The Courting of Life and Death chose allure. Allure and wonderment. The sentences breathe life with both worldbuilding and intrigue, it almost choking. But that is just that. Almost.

The hardest was the first three chapters, not because it wasn’t great mind you, but because the author kept throwing these new words paired with the french-touched term such as ‘duc’ or ‘comte’. It was like the first time I tasted saffron, definitely like it, love it even, but time was needed to acquaint myself with the taste. 

Story-wise, there seemed to be no overarching plot until the second book, and while it was written in a way that was a slice of life, a hidden nugget, a foreshadowing, was dropped here and there if you were attentive. Which was the coming of age of Pierre as a new duc, also how he’d manage the territory while also practicing the forbidden necrocraft. 

On the character’s side of the story was where I kind of misunderstood. Initially, it read as if the narrator (which was omniscient), the main characters, and all of the rest of the ensemble had too close of a ‘voice’ with each other. Of course, I could tell who is who by the dialogue tags. However, as I read through, I realized that I mistook convention (as how noble expected to speak and behave) as a lack of distinctness.

Which bring us to style, which was great. Awesome. Like. Wow, wow, wow. I mean, if you want to read how a noble, like a real noble, spoke and did in their day to day, how their position and power shaped people’s behavior around them, this is the story for you. Also, I don’t think it’s possible, but so far (2.6) I don’t even found one sentence of dead air. The action beat was so wonderfully written, it added so much depth into the already great story.

The only complaint that I have is the medical side of the story. While I wasn’t sure how it presented parallel to the real world (after all the year numbered in eleven thousand), I found it immersion-breaking when the author mixed these three things together

  1. Blood cells 
  2. Humoral theory.
  3. Micro-animalia

While I don’t pretend to be a medical historian, the fact that the author used the word ‘cell’ should indicate either: 1)perception of magic akin to microscope 2)existence of the microscope itself. Which meant, he shouldn’t be confused by the third, since he had seen the first. Also if he had seen the first (even naming it cell, indicating he knew what a cell meant), the second should be discredited (magical effect pending). I suggest the author avert using the word ‘cell’ and switch to more archaic terms like ‘corpuscle’. 

Also, plasma isn’t clear like water btw, it’s yellowish, foamy, sticky, and smells very distinct. The in-world paper should be on the yellow side (unbleached pulp) to be consistent.

All in all, VMJaskiernia managed to draw a world of most wonder. Bare a few easily fixable mistakes, it’d be a crime to not read it.

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.


Everyone's Lv Zero (Reload)

A Brief Rest in Your Step; A Story Told.

When everything moves so fast, it is very rare to found a waystation that was perspective. Everyone’s Lv Zero did just that.

Full disclosure this is both review swap yet at the same time also a fan’s review. Take it with caution both of the salt and rose tinted glass.

When Underload approached me for a review swap, I took a long look at the protagonist name descriptor — Mannat. I remembered that name. I heard that name. Where. Where. Where. 

Turned out around a month ago, by the June’s afternoon, me and my not-made bed was scrolling down on the list of latest updates. Not here on RR, but on SH (Scribblehub), the cover and the title took me on an intrigue. Curiosity if you may. Unlike the pandered, obviously title-adjusted, understandable authorial choice that was made for you, RR’s audience, this novel originally titled in a more sophisticated, slightly fancier term — ‘Heir of Mana.’ And the picture of the girl reaching her hand to the cerulean sky just seal the deal.

And as I tried the first chapter, I understandably was expecting the same thing. The same same similars. A teenage boy in a blank slate who by the weaving of fate and innermost wishes of audiences to self-insert themselves, triumphed over a young-master filled world by being granted a cheat for no reason at all. You know, the standard brainless something. Your salted chips in the evening, enjoyable after a work even though you are aware of the fact that it had no nutritional substance and more likely to make you fat. 

Ho, dear. How wrong I was…

Underload is a master, and I don't say this lightly, so I’ll repeat it once again with long preceding descriptor sentence to put how much I emphasized this conviction. Underload is a master of description and setting.

I grew up reading books. Loving books. Since the day that the available fiction to me was either twenty-thirty years old collection from my school’s library or cost at least two weeks of my allowance, I've been voraciously gulping and downing every fiction possible. Yet between those sparse collections, between those eight hour of enjoyable read, the one which I treasured the most and still are was the one who brought me.

Brought me to a journey of different life, where life was different, and stories was told. Brought me to a journey of different time, when it was honorable when someone was titled teacher, and respect was imposed by entire different section of language.

And Everyone’s Lv Zero, captured that. That different-ness essence. Caught, clutch, clung.

I was swept on the stream of dynamic. Of how the seemingly quaint living a village life was filled and filled with expectation of how you ought to be when you grew up. I was filled with the characters, sides as they were, were human with their own life, with their own right. The hunting scenes, the children’s playing together. It was alive. It was alight. It was beautiful and bright.

It was real.

Sure, some may say that the story is kind of glacial. And sure they may be right. After all only after 450 pages down, see that? Four hundred and fifty pages down, that the main character got his class and qualified for an apprenticeship. Qualified. Not Finished. Qualified.

But I’d argue that this — this glacialness is in fact the charm. Most of story I enjoyed here in this site was a stitch of scenes, it highlighted the exciting, and skipped the boring. But this — this is a moment by moment of life streaming by; uninterrupted, unperturbed yet at the same time wonderful.

Now as the advanced review rules demanded, I’ll talk through aspect —sections of story, character, style, and grammar.

The story was filtered through the eyes of all, but mostly the main character, Mannat. We are presented with a young boy so curious, so full of life, so responsible, so loving, so boyish, so clever, so considerate, so not considerate, so selfish, so principled, so hesistant, so understanding, so prejudiced, so everything —so human. 

He made mistakes, he often made mistakes. He learned from his mistakes. He played with his friends, he had a good relationship with his friend. He loved and was loved back. He hated and try to hate back (it’s so adorable). 

I have nothing to say here.

As for the story, so far there is only one overarching plot. Mannat was trying to become good enough magician to save her mother. Which what he was being doing. Relentlessly. There were also some other subplots there, the young adult subplot that again, was so adorable and pure. The details however left to you, the audience, as an exercise.

Next, the style. It’s good. It’s both clear clear and vernacular. The story was told in the very close, omniscient third person where the narrator was the author itself. And Like I said before, the author mastered the art of description. And ho boy, he didn’t mince word with his allusion.. For example I loved how he described the shopkeeper’s appearance with a bark tree’s skin among other things.

The only breaking things for me is that the author’s voice sometime slipped in into the dialogue, for example, when Moore said dime’s a dozen, that was a bit unsuitable since from the synopsis this was supposed to be other world of Jamaya (from the SH original synopsis), and considering both dime’s a dozen etymology and Everyone’s Lv Zero’s system of currency, that phrase shouldn’t even exist. Unless of course, it was a most subtle hint, a foreshadowing of the author that Jamaya was somehow a new name of original earth after a monster era attack (which was possible). So spoiler alert? Maybe?

As for Grammar, it is good. Safe for double en dash (--) that hadn’t been replaced properly with em dash (—), leftover unspaced paragraph (likely to be artifact from copying from writing software to RR), and Moore kept being interchanged with Moor. Other than that, it is good.

In conclusion, this is good book. A very good book. Please, please for the ever loving god, read it.

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.


Dragon's Dilemma

Something something human condition

One of the hallmarks of a great story is seeing that everything is terrible —mightily terrible. And you as a reader is paralyzed by the fact that you are powerless to change it. In the dragons dilemma, the reader was presented with a world filtered through the eye of Typhoeus, the world that as far as he knew is always against him. 

His brethren, his family, save for his mother, are his tormentors. The humans are his hunters. In fact, the story began when the ill-luck dragon is pursued on his own lair, minding his own business, for simply being, simply existing. 

Then by the next chapters, we are plunged into the midst of the adventurers’ town, the human society as Typhoeus first know it. And it is all bubbles and bystanders. Reflection of how the delicate dance of just enough chance of social movement and systematic imbalance of military might could stave off the unfairness of having half of its population living in a slum. And of course, while the dragon acknowledged the territory might benefit from his ‘gentle ministration’, his first and focused action was acting out revenge on behalf of his species torment —acid soaking the vivisectionist alchemist who has no concept of conscience.

That how is it with the story so far, while casual readers might find his adventuring to be exciting and full of tension, the undercurrents are that everything and everyone is horrible. The adventurers are slumming themselves in their little bubbles, never lending a credence of thought to anyone besides their immediate species. The alchemists are torturers, cutting organs and limbs of living beings while the said beings are still conscious. And Typhoeus, our MC while quick to wrath to the crime inflicted upon his species, find it’s a perfectly fine affair eating innocent caravan of merchants, just so his belly and his hoard could be filled. 

It is a blend of fun and surrender —a what it is. 

On the character aspect, the MC Typhoeus himself is what I call, a good perspective of a dragon. He acted and walked as a dragon that tried very hard to imitate what normal humans might behave. Still for all his effort, his tics are showing; his eating habit, his dismissal of the bronze coin. A normal predisposed action that a dragon of his age thought of as normal —an exemplary example of every worldbuilder dream, seeing a culture that alive as their own. 

The style is good, well-written, and clear. The narrative is immersive and consistent throughout. Although I’d like more varied sentence length. Something that cut through in between of those lengthy nested phrases. But that just that. Preferences. Not a real critic. The only critic I had for the style is on the first chapter (001 not prologue), half of the starting paragraph is cramped with repetitive, adverb, and repetitive adverb. It eased off on the next, and almost non-existent further by, but it is something worth taking a second look at.

Grammar as always, not my specialty, but it’s readable and I found almost no typo, so it a yes from me.

All in all, the story is a journey to follow. Deserving its place on the trending page.

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.  


The Great Devourer

Well thought. Well Executed. A Story to Read.

The great devourer is a misadventure of an ancient, world-destroyer, goddess of night, Nox trying to reclaim her past glory and her unwitting-unwilling vessel, Yul.

The first impression that the story delivered is how well-executed it is. Particularly when the readers are presented to the inner thought of Nox, which understandably a bit ...removed from the hubbub that is being a mortal. 

While Nox one-track mind; her deluded, narcissistic one-dimensional personality is nothing new of isekai tropes, her banter and willfulness who thought that because the world used to revolve around her, thus it should continue to do so is exhilarating. Especially when we saw her fumbled the most basic social interaction.

Although with how the author presented Nox's character voice, it'd be unsurprising that the reader would found themselves not rooting for her 'looks on how things should be'. A pure child-like look, that however immoral, seems right because it's fun.

At the same time, the readers would also feel empathy for Yul, who is forced to endure in becoming Nox host, even willing to kill herself then becoming a vessel of destruction.

The characters are well developed and well fleshed, already by chapter 10, we could see several character growth slowly developing in the background. 

The only flaw that could be pointed out (and this is really nitpicking) is that Yul is a tad bit too advanced for a simple farmer's daughter. How could the girl think in the million (first chapter, first paragraph), while none of her cultural background seemed to indicate so. It could be understood if she come from a mercantile/scholastic family, but millions for a farmer? That's stretching it a bit too thin. Of course, this particular commentary should be sidelined the moment she revealed to have more of those 'unusual pasts' like most author here love to foreshadow. 

The story also teased grand worldbuilding; a complex interconnecting world of magic with possibility of space travel, a black hole as sun replacement, a church-civilian politic, racism, and (obviously) a secret organization encompassing six millennia and six thousand miles.

The style is lyrical. Particularly Nox's voice. The sentence structure is varied with length. First with five-six structure crescendo. Then stopped with a hint. A brief.

It is beautiful and mesmerizing. Immersing the readers fully.

A̶ ̶b̶i̶t̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶w̶a̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶a̶u̶t̶h̶o̶r̶ ̶t̶h̶o̶u̶g̶h̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶s̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶r̶o̶p̶r̶i̶a̶t̶e̶l̶y̶ ̶t̶a̶g̶g̶e̶d̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶.̶ ̶S̶e̶x̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶c̶o̶n̶t̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶w̶a̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶.̶ ̶F̶r̶o̶m̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶i̶r̶s̶t̶ ̶t̶e̶n̶ ̶c̶h̶a̶p̶t̶e̶r̶s̶ ̶a̶l̶o̶n̶e̶,̶ ̶i̶t̶ ̶c̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶s̶p̶o̶t̶t̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶h̶a̶t̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶s̶t̶o̶r̶y̶ ̶d̶e̶s̶c̶r̶i̶b̶e̶s̶ ̶a̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶m̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶s̶e̶x̶u̶a̶l̶ ̶h̶a̶r̶a̶s̶s̶m̶e̶n̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶d̶ ̶d̶e̶p̶i̶c̶t̶ ̶a̶t̶ ̶l̶e̶a̶s̶t̶ ̶a̶n̶ ̶N̶S̶F̶W̶ ̶l̶e̶v̶e̶l̶ ̶o̶f̶ ̶f̶e̶m̶a̶l̶e̶ ̶n̶u̶d̶i̶t̶y̶.̶ ̶ ̶ ̶

W̶h̶i̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶l̶a̶t̶t̶e̶r̶ ̶c̶o̶u̶l̶d̶ ̶b̶e̶ ̶a̶s̶c̶r̶i̶b̶e̶d̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶c̶u̶l̶t̶u̶r̶a̶l̶ ̶b̶i̶a̶s̶ ̶i̶f̶ ̶c̶o̶m̶p̶a̶r̶e̶d̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶a̶p̶p̶l̶e̶ ̶w̶i̶t̶h̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶m̶a̶l̶e̶ ̶e̶q̶u̶i̶v̶a̶l̶e̶n̶t̶,̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶f̶o̶r̶m̶e̶r̶ ̶n̶e̶e̶d̶s̶ ̶p̶r̶o̶p̶e̶r̶ ̶t̶r̶i̶g̶g̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶a̶r̶n̶i̶n̶g̶ ̶a̶s̶ ̶n̶o̶t̶ ̶t̶o̶ ̶t̶r̶a̶u̶m̶a̶t̶i̶z̶e̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶ ̶r̶e̶a̶d̶e̶r̶ ̶w̶h̶o̶ ̶e̶x̶p̶e̶r̶i̶e̶n̶c̶e̶d̶ ̶s̶a̶i̶d̶ ̶d̶i̶f̶f̶i̶c̶u̶l̶t̶y̶ ̶i̶n̶ ̶t̶h̶e̶i̶r̶ ̶o̶w̶n̶ ̶l̶i̶f̶e̶.̶

(author had added the appropriate tag)

In conclusion, the story is amazing. A true worth read that deserves all of its five stellar stars.


For Irision - Book One Complete!

Underpromise, overdeliver. That is my motto, including but not limited to when I write a review for swaps. But sometimes, there are instances that I couldn’t do just that, and here is one of them.

For Irision is a story of Aries and her space corps team. It’s captivating, teasing, and punched me in the stomach with thousand butterflies just by the half of its opening. The author know how PTSD work. Know know

It haunt your dream, it color your perception, it made even moment of levity, of fun that should be spent with friend, with families in joy, in happiness, and in content, filled and filled with dread. And you couldn’t help but notice a question repeating in your head ‘what bad thing would happen next?’(see chapter 5)  

Reading the story made me remember my bad days, not that because the story isn’t written well, opposite of it, because it’s so well written, it trapped you inside with its immersion. It told and reflects in all honesty how those dark depressing days passed for us who had the misfortune to experience it. Which is apt since the main character and her team were involved in a planet-scale calamity. And instead being rewarded for saving who could be saved, for exhausting all available avenues that consent oneself to conscience, they were forgiven instead. As if the row and row of saved souls, innocent and begging, worth less than a sliver passage of unflexible law.

The characters, the style. For the main characters there are no question about it. The author thrice triggered me when reading it, The only reason I managed to finish until chapter 7 is because I read it in three sitting and for the last sitting, I just woke up. And the bad emotion in my mind still being kept checked by after sleep glow. 

For other characters though, I found it a bit difficult to parse. Mostly because the author introduced several speaking characters at once with minimum description. Since until the end of first arc (2 weeks after) we mostly given perspective of the MC inner thought, the fragment of personalities that could help identifies one character from another felt a bit short. 

The story. What I love the most about the story are the details. The bits and bobs that shown little by little to give shape to the world. Like the intake days, the ‘Draft vs Volunteers’. It didn’t feel forced and showed the author’s control of show don’t tell. The only nitpick I have for the story aspect is the pacing, and that really stretching it. However, in my opinion, while the first chapter is nice for setting the mood, the second one seems to me just a tad bit extending the inner turmoil too long. 

Grammar as always not my specialty. I noticed one, two typo or missing conjunction, however it’s nothing major and just need a fresh eye for proofreading.

To summarize, the story is gripping in the right way and of course recommended. Just word of caution, warning tags exist for a reason.

 

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.  

 


Magical Girl Kari: Apocalypse System

Wow. Wow. Wow.

Reading the first chapter of the story is like reading a highly polished, big-budgeted, at least two seasons approved, shoujo anime (that has *cough* young adult to middle-aged men as their target demographic).

The story punched the audience in the face with magical realism. It hooked by normalizing the existence of magical girl —that a group of monsters-fighting fifteen something was your normal, everyday thing. It also managed to paint a very inherent feel of culture. The far-oft mystified west, the shallow sympathy, the going through the motion speech, and the reluctance of telling no. It nailed the Japanese to a tee.

The author's style choice of unreliable narrator also apt, the main character's immature emotion really puts the reader into her shoes. The shoes of 'misunderstood' high school student who has a problem dealing with her emotion. I like the part where she snapped into her obviously caring parent, a hallmark sign of coming of age teenager, delivered perfectly indicating her developmental stage.

The supporting characters also were not left behind. For example, the supporting main character, 'the foil bubbly love interest' hate of favorite composer misattribution gave credence to the depth of her passion and hence personality.

Grammar like always was perfect. And honestly, the only nitpick I had was how could people in this world finish to 'drink' their boba first before slurping their drink with the fact that liquid was in fact more *cough* suckable than solids. Perhaps it could be into spooning or eating instead of sucking?

In conclusion, this is the story I'd recommend to even the most casual reader. Definitely a good read.


Frost

A perspective served on a platter

Frost is an interesting take on a pandemic. The story is filtered through the eyes of Scarlet, a neurodivergent young woman in the spectrum. It told a perspective of a high-functioning, self-focused individual, tackles the reality that mimics the horror of the olden day plague.

The first thing the readers would find in this story is the fact how every scene seems to be overly descriptive and filled with tangents of memory, flashbacks, and all perceivable sensory description from sights, touches, to sounds. All are served in full HD detail and an almost overloading manner. This is not a mistake on the author’s part. This is a stroke of brilliant, presenting to the neurotypicals how people with ADHD handle sensory input.

The style employed blend of 3rd omniscient and 3rd limited, where the former is more common in the earlier chapter (1-3), and the latter dominated chapter 6 and above. Although it’s to be noted that this blend is written as-is. As in paragraph by paragraph streaming without clear line break. So more often than not the reader might found that they already shifted to the other POV without noticing, a feat that very hard to pull of.

Then we have the characters. Which by themselves are quite well-written. Each of them is filled, burst, with pop and jolt of personalities. Scarlet is this withdrawn, self-focused girl, with a tendency of premature judgment. Vanessa is the strong, decisive, yet caring mother. While Rachel and Terrence are a couple that only held by either a sliver of love or fear of change. Maybe both.

The only critique I had for the characters are their mannerism. Speaking mannerism. Not one of them strayed from the author style of launching herself into long diatribes, while this maybe could still make sense for Scarlet or Vanessa. It seemed this tendency of overexplaining just fall short on Rachel and Terrence which as we know, should have their own dynamic. Also it worth noting that all other minor characters (barring the dog and the little girl) also fell into this speaking style. Which is not quite a good foil for one another. For this, I suggest the author to search the difference between character voice and author voice. The former should be at least represented in their conversation.

Next, the plot. This part is filled with both spoiler and speculation. Do not open it, if you don’t want to be spoiled.

So far there are only two main plots that very apparent here (Ch 12). Returning Abigail to her mother in Archer’s Creek and survive the blizzard (and the pandemic which makes it worse). This is where the story moves the most, scene by scene we’re presented with people who are the worst face of humanities; robbers, murderers, and rapists to be. How all people returned to basic tribalistic nature where the government, the police, the hospital systems are broken down. How people started to shoot each other for a meager of food. How the street are filled with desperate people, carrying guns and donning hazmat.

While this is certainly a good commentary if COVID was much deadlier and/or the government failed to contain it with lockdown, it can’t be helped that there a possible plot hole here. Whether a) the Valentines, particularly Scarlet, are just very late in receiving the pandemic news, or b) the news of pandemic already fermenting for months, and people already preparing, but then there’s some kind of accident came that make it a superspreading event. Triggering massive outbreak. 

This could be glanced from the earliest chapters where people are already having hazmat suits. While guns are mightily understandable, hazmat suits are another story altogether. It implied that people already knew and knew for a long time to stocked up hazmat suits. Although,if it’s true, the very belayed collapse of Frostford is very jarring, especially when the other town collapse is so unprecedented (counted in days). So unless, the news report on the first chapter was ‘confirming what people already know, thus triggering massive panic’ this could be quite a plothole.

Also, for those of you, potential readers, who loved good old foreshadowing. This story does it wonderfully. It could be speculated that in a very near future, some if not all the main characters going to be infected by the pandemic. It was told in innocuous ways —little things like shaking hands, using other people’s respirators. The hint was dropped, littered all around.

Grammar is as always not my specialty. But I’d say, it’s excellent. One or two typos are inevitable, but the rest is immaculate.

In conclusion, the story is a unique take, a tale suited for its time. And for people who like to know how it feels to wear another people shoes, is a good one to read.

 

***

Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.  

 


The Grand Game

Smart MC. Great Tension. Full of Action.

The grand game is one of those novels you can't keep yourself from stopping. I myself, binged the whole 20 chapters in one go, stuck in my chair, wondering what would happen next. And even though the work is hinged on tension, each chapter has a mini-resolve on itself and not dependent wholly on cheap tricks such as cliffhangers.

The style choice using the first person POV here was spot on in carrying the next unknown, namely which kind of danger that the MC would run into. Additionally, the use of minimum, almost white room description, leaves a lot to the imagination, making the readers construct an image of their own that add another layer of oomph to that already thick tension.

For the story aspect. It's your standard isekaied amnesiac, executed to perfection. Little hints that dropped are teasing a bigger promising whole.

Character-wise, the MC himself is what you could describe as a smart and cautious MC. Proved by his earliest chapter decision to basically using his fellow candidates as 'road opener', a meatshield by any other name.

His only goal was to survive the whole shebang and survive he did; ignoring the most tempting choice for the most reasonable one. If there is one thing that could be nitpicked is some of the encounters kinda teeter on plot armor. As if his rash decisions, the few that he made, had no long-lasting impact and get fixed instantly by the next scene.

This, however, could simply be assigned to the fact that it was still a training phase, and admittedly some people are just lucky. Not to mention an MC of a story.

Personality-wise, the MC quite fleshed out and was logically consistent. And the way how his amnesia was written is beautiful. 

For supporting characters, however, earlier readers would found that his familiar was more of an exposition tool instead of a fully fleshed character. However, this was fixed when the author introduced the familiar motivation

Grammar is not my specialty. But since I didn't even found one typo or one jarring sentence, I'd say it's readable.

In conclusion, this is a story that very much worth the read. Although reader is advised to at least have several chapters in stores to binge before attempting to read it because I assure you, the curiosity is killing.

 


Memories (Completed)

Reading Memories is like presented with a slideshow of photos. Series of images, of scenes, of events that currently and had happened. It depicted color without caption or so much one-liner explanation. It’s sterile, removed, and intentional about it.

The first time I read it, I thought it was just because the author is new. And as always with new author, it came with the territory that their execution is a bit subpar. 

However, it surprised me when the readers were presented a POV change to the supporting character: Inspector Michael.

Inspector Michael’s character is lively, anxious. He is serious, stressed out. He kept getting pushed by his boss, by the media, by the victim, and the supposed only witness of the incident who somehow through no fault of their own lost the only lead possible for him to resolve the case. Thus it was no surprise and totally justified that he was quick to anger. 

Reading Inspector Michael POV, shattered my first preconception that the author took complete sentences and heeding Grammarly advice way too seriously. Instead, the removed MC POV was in fact intentional, a mirror of his unconscious which would be later explained in the Arc 2. 

This showed that the author has quite a grasp on internal consistency, on knowing how to use character instead of authorial voice in the right area. 

Character, this was when the story lacks the most. Besides the aforementioned Inspector Michael, and maybe Jacob (half of the time), the characterization was so filled with tells, tells, and tells. And it’s not even a good tells.

For example, consider this paragraph:

I always believed the chances for anything happening were 50/50. It either happens, or it doesn’t. I feel everything else is entirely crap.

This paragraph could absolutely work if our MC is a nitty-gritty, street-wise guy who spent his whole youth in a not-so-pleasant neighborhood. However, it must be noted that the MC supposed to be a medical college student, and a topper at that. He should by now already knee-depth reading journal; knowing the difference between RR and OR, interpreting confidence interval, and not confused between sensitivity and specificity. Evidence-based medicine is the hallmark of modern society, not some guy intuition.

For this, I recommend that the Author should do more research, especially if the main character supposed to have a specific skillset of very specialized profession. Even until chapter 16, all I could glance is the author projecting school daily life without so much mentioning any specific, any little detail that shows to the readers, that the setting really took place in medical school. It just a google away to search ‘what medical students learn in their first year’, and basic human physiology is doable even with high school biology.

Moving on, grammar as always not my specialty. And I did notice some typo here and there. But it nothing major, perhaps around two or three typos in the whole 16 chapter that I read, which is a good count.

Next, the story, the plot. This is where the author shines the most. The story followed classic murder mystery with amnesiac main character who slowly trying to remember who he was. Already we had been presented with two characters who could possibly become a murderer, first the likely jealous Priya wannabe-boyfriend; Gaurav which I highly suspect is a red herring to the more helpful Mary. 

Also, just a note to the author, the detail for the amnesia is a bit lacking, besides the basic speech pattern and coherent thought, most people with amnesia could still remember their trade profession albeit unconsciously. Jacob should be written to have some degree of familiarity with hospital conditions if nothing else since he was a medical student.

The remaining though, was splendid. With how each information unfolds, the readers were made to keep guessing chapter by chapter waiting for Jacob’s memory to came back. 

All in all, it was a decent story. And for the target reader of its genre, definitely a good read. 

 

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Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.  




Shattered Blood

Like real life, it was very unlikely that a single track straight happening line is the only thing around. Shattered blood, mirrored that with plot and subplot nested together, interwoven in a stream of tension, always hanging in the air.

Even when our protagonist simply received text, emoji littered text I might add, the looming that it is, had never been sidelined. Ready to haunt the reader by the next paragraph.

The story took place in unspecified city midwestern USA. Our protagonist, Haddie No Last Name is struggling between keeping up with her law studies; dealing with his paranormal father; and internship at the local law firm where she was trying to helped her overworked boss defending alibi-less, wreck of a client targetted by achievement-chasing local DA while on her own investigating the paranormal, unexplainable aspect of the murder that totally outside her job description. Also, have I mention she had a passion project catching the local dogfighting gang? 

Yeah, she had a lot on her plate.

The thing is, that’s almost entirely hers. It’s her want, her sense of idealistic justice —willingness to see that one clam would be thrown back to the sea and live for another day.

Which of course as logic dictate, meant she is left behind on everything. 

The author handled her personality spot on, consistent. Showing it in every small act; the way she said she’ll give reccommendation even though she’s an intern (who does that?) and the speed when she helped her friend when their car broke is just telling.

Although the way that the story opened (Ch.1) was littered with as much as twenty tangents (alliteration, not actual count). I know this is supposed to be how the author established the mood, however imagining —imagining description that is, took quite a bit of brainpower. So when the next paragraph demanded that we hold on to another and another and another environ, uncorrelated physical descriptions, the previous one just sputtered out. More emphasis on internal monologue would do wonder here.

The style though is where it’s a bit split —more personal, taste-wise.

For example, I love the way Haddie’s boss handled her way trying to search for an alibi to her client. Delivery service, app login, proof of purchase in gas station, camera park. It’s beautiful. As someone who don’t watch a lot of murder mystery, it’s like a bit of aha moment, when you get a glimpse how defense works. 

The other part of the coin however, is not my cup of tea. No, not that it’s bad. It’s good, great. The straight play of dramatic irony, enchanced by the expected internal reveal is inspired. Here we are served waiting, by the second chapter I might add, when Haddie finally would confront the real killer which spoiler alert, is either mage, reincarnated person with magical sorcerous power,  or some kind of warlock with penchant for remembering his forgotten memory mid-combat, that kind of thing. The big bad antagonist.

However, the knowing of the antagonist himself, for me personally at least, failed to deliver that big oomph —the emotional dread, the knowing that your enemy is something greater than human —something greater than rain of bullets showered to every each part of your body.

Perhaps it’s the fault of the medium, the website where it’s posted when you saw people transcending heaven too much, a core formation cultivator felt just meh.

Moving on, grammar as always, not my specialty. But in ten chapters deep, I only spot one mistake. An unintentional POV break when Haddie refer herself as ‘Haddie’ instead of the correct ‘her’ (Ch 1, paragraph 22)

All in all, it was good story of its genre. And definitely would recommend it to the target audience.  

 

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Disclaimer: This review was created as part of the swap with the reviewer story — Tales of Unlikely Wizard in accordance with the Royalroad Rules regarding Review Swap. Reader discretion is advised.