Astrille

Astrille

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Fictions
Reviews
The Plagued Rat

supercalifragilisticexpialidocious

Although I first agreed to read this as it was a review swap, I've actually fallen in love with this little gem.

The less-than-honourable efforts of Skrakch and his associates to better their lives is an entertaining read that has solid old-school fantasy vibes. The dark but humourous tone reminds me of Warhammer Fantasy books that I've read in the past, most likely fuelled by the DnD aspect that lends excellent backstory and fleshes out the worldbuilding into something that is intoxicatingly addictive to read.

At the time of writing this, our deeper understanding of the characters is in its infancy but they have their own goals and personalities. They're believably written and don't fall flat when interacting with one another.

I've a soft spot for any characters with even a hint of a Scottish accent so no doubt I'll be cheering 'Gaun yersel hen!' at any chance of action.

Sentence structure and grammar is good throughout... with one major exception:

The interlude.

I don't know where to begin with this one because after the joy of the first few chapters, the interlude hit me with a slap. Not a new age, "this slaps" kind of slap... a stinging slap out of the blue.

It's info heavy in a way that's dry to read. There are a lot of tense shifts throughout which also make it unpleasant to grind through. On top of this, it feels as though it has very little relevance to the main story and I found myself bitterly resenting reading it. Maybe there's a reason it has been included. Time will tell.

All I can say is that there was immense relief when I put it behind me and could move back to the main storyline.

All in all, I highly recommend reading it. Added to my favourites list. This is one to watch (even if I tentatively tip-toe around interludes in future).


3 Bodies 1 Soul

A Fresh Reincarnation of Isekai

Overall:
3 Bodies 1 Soul is an interesting new take on the isekai genre which I haven't seen done in this way before. I've seen swapping between characters and bodies, but not simultaneous control which is interesting and has a huge potential to be explored. The three characters that our singular soul is controlling are markedly different, which again adds the potential for exciting depths to be explored.
Unfortunately, because the concept is so fresh, I'm not quite sure what to make of it as there's little to compare it to. There's a lot going on and with the individual bodies retaining most of their original memories and personalities, a little of the 'magic' feels as though it's lost here.

Style (4 stars):
The author's writing style makes the switching between viewpoints easy to understand. It could be easy to lose track of who is doing what when flitting between bodies, but I didn't find this to be the case. My issue was that, regularly, the writing felt a little stale. As I said earlier, there's a lot going on with different cultures and people involved. The author has included backstory about this, but the way that it is dropped in makes it feel like they've stepped away from the story and suddenly we've got a dry extract from a glossary. The introduction to the Elven body and descriptions of the types of demons, in particular, made me less inclined to keep reading. It may be worth the author reading back through and seeing if there might be a more organic way of telling us that this particular demon is 2.7 metres tall and a relatively common species despite being the only demon of this species that has been introduced.

Story (4.5 stars):
The story, and its interesting premise, starts strong and introduces conflict early on. By chapter 5/6 we're already reaching a turning point where sizeable action and heavy consequences seem unavoidably close. Will there be chaos? Trauma? Hilarity? Only the author knows, but it looks like it'll be a fun ride for anyone wanting to find out. Would have marked 5* but it feels a little bit directionless at the moment. There are clear signposts of a war/battle but I have no idea if this is an overarching theme or just an event within the story.

Characters (4 stars):
I'm not sure what to make of the characters so far. They have their unique personalities, neither of which are particularly likeable so far, with a dash of the singular controlling soul, but I don't have any strong feelings for any of them. It's early days though. I'd like to see more from the controlling soul than we see at the start. There's general confusion and a steep learning curve, which is expected, but if the story continues with the different characters being separate people with a mind link, it seems like a lot of extra steps without much payout.


Grammar (4.5 stars):
Grammar is above average for RR but nothing exceptional.


The Reincarnation of the Transcendental

The story is a great take on the traditional isakai concept. I've seen plenty of "reborn" isekai but this is one of the first that I've seen that combines that with the idea of superheroes. There's no disappointing scenes where the MC forgets his origins and instead, the story focuses on how our MC comes to terms with his new body and reduced abilities.

The humour is good and there's a real sense of wrathful malice from our tender, newborn MC.

 

The author's style is clearly still evolving and it's good to see that although the author is ESL, they are working on improving their writing and are quick to take on suggestions to improve the clarity of their work.

There's a lot of repetitive sentences that can feel as though they're slowing down the pace. The idea that our MC is a Transcendental is repeated quite a few times even by chapter four. Sometimes multiple times within the same chapter.

It would be worth noting that sometimes the internal conversations (telepathy) have inconsistent formatting. It can make it difficult to understand what is 'spoken' and what isn't, resulting in needing to re-read. This may not be an issue for some readers but it stood out for me.

Other than this, a lot of the grammar seems to be of good quality.

What spoils the story for me is how flat the other characters appear to be when compared with our MC. This is fine in terms of the parents as the story is from his perspective and he has brushed them off as being mostly inconsequential, but it stood out for the babysitter. The link between them promotes him as being a more important character in the story and yet we know so little about him. It would be nice to see this developed further.

All in all, an interesting read.


The Mook Maker

Not much to view of this so far but it's an interesting take on the isekai genre.

Our MC seems unable to control the whims of his familiars and it will be interesting to see whether he learns to harness their power or whether he has to attempt to survive it.

One to watch.


System Overclock

Character Driven, Fast Paced Ride

System Overclock starts by dropping you right into the action. As the title suggests, the technology is ramped up and so are the stakes for our characters. Right from the very first chapter, the motives of our main character are laid bare, as are the directions that the plot may take.

The setting seems to be stereotypical cyberpunk, though the dialogue-heavy chapters often leave much to the imagination in terms of scenery. This is where readers will have to make their choices of whether this read is for them. Personally, I like a story that is willing to meander a bit so that we can see the environment. Those that prefer to jump straight into the action and not look back - this read is for you.

I've marked style down a tad because sometimes the chapters feel a little bit too dialogue heavy. Don't get me wrong, the conversations are sharp and the flow is good but it left me wanting to see a little bit more of what the world had to offer.

The chapters that contained the younger sister felt a lot more balanced in this respect. 

The story is good. The author seems to have a good idea of what direction the story is heading in and everything seems to be falling into place for an enjoyable read.

The grammar is impeccable. Some of the best that I've seen on RoyalRoad.

The characters are where I feel divided on this. The younger sister is carrying this story for me, though whether this is simply because she's easier to relate to or simply more lovable is yet to be seen. It's also refreshing to see a character with autism who doesn't fall into the awful tropes that have been portrayed in popular media in the past. 

The older sister might grow on me in time. It's early days yet.

 

All in all, a really excellent read. The author has set the bar high for their first novel released on RR.

 


Meat

Harrowing yet beautiful

I feel like coming across this story was like unearthing a gleaming treasure. I've barely begun to scratch the surface of where the plot is heading, and yet this is one of the few ongoing novels I'm following where I'm left craving more.

The style is excellent. Slick and macabre descriptions paint a world that our brave yet naive MC (Bee) must navigate. The visuals are executed in a way that alludes to the world being both terrifying and mundane. The clinical descriptions add to this as we witness the starting scenes in what is, quite literally, a dying city.

The story so far is interesting and pulls you in. The background horror gives the characters depth and makes us appreciate their needs and their actions. There are no awkward lengths of unnecessary exposition and the changes of perspective are clean cut and without confusion.

The characters, especially Bee, are incandescent against the gloomy backdrop. Living candles that shimmer wonderfully to draw in the readers like moths, eager to learn more of their part in this tale.

Throughout, I couldn't spot issues with grammar.

Overall, whether you’re a sucker for a captivating protagonist or you live for a well thought out post apocalypse, I highly recommend reading. Aptly named, MEAT, offers something considerable that readers are able to sink their teeth into.


Shadow

I took a chance on this story after seeing it in the writeathon list but I can't say that it's been an enjoyable read as it's felt like a bit of a slog.

Chapter one is lengthy exposition. There's a lot of worldbuilding... and then some more... and then some more... and then some more. In truth, it felt more like I was reading a poorly planned prologue.

From Chapter two onwards, I thought that things were warming up. I was even willing to overlook the wonky 'future science'. We get a bit of action, some suspense and a little drama, but then things fizzle a little afterwards. 

The flickering between past and present was well done and snapping between them was clean and not confusing.

Dialogue was snappy and felt natural, leading to believable characters. These were the saving grace of this story.

The synopsis states "At the core of every action/adventure story is a silly plot twist that only works if the characters it centers around are compelling and well-developed" but this fails to deliver compelling characters as they're drowning in what feels like background noise.

Whether this is a style issue or a story issue is one that I'm not sure of. It may benefit the author to consider letting the entire history of the apocalypse take a back seat in favour of letting us get to know the world as it is and the characters within.

Grammar is a very high standard throughout.


Orion’s Last Words

'Orion's Last Words' is an excellent take on classic sci-fi dystopia without the lurid eccentricities that a lot of cyberpunk flaunts. It's dark, gritty and has a an easy-going way of weaving the pervasive elements of environmental ruin and government oppression. Vivid descriptions paint a picture of the world that the characters live in, but without pausing to linger in extended exposition.

The style is refreshing. The way that the story flickers back and forth between the current and the past allows the author to share key details to add context to the story without it feeling overbearing. We're given just enough information to make sense of the world and the chaos within.

The story itself is interesting and the plot is fast paced enough that even by Chapter 5, we can start to see the rough stonework of the path that will plot out the direction that this tale will take.

The grammar is what it is. It's by no means perfect, but is mostly clear. The blemishes do little to mar the reading experience and hopefully now that the contest is over, the author will be able to amend it in time.

The characters are where this story falters for me. Though the vivid descriptions are a delight, sometimes the dialogue seems uncomfortably lengthy. This is fine during the sections where our MC is discussing her past, but during the flashbacks, it stands out, dappled through otherwise sharp dialogue between friends.

I'm undecided on H. He's initially described as unfallably calm, but then appears to be quite the opposite. This might be a conscious choice of the author but it strikes me as a blemish among excellent world building and development.

Overall, I'd recommend giving this a whirl. Has the potential to be a real gem when properly polished.


WTF [Dropped version]

The story lives up to its title. Very WTF.

There's a lot of randomness, a good deal of rambling and a generous dash of rough grammar.

The plot, what I could understand of it, develops rapidly and pauses for no one. The way that it doesn't stop to pause for breath might connect better with others than it does with me. Sadly, the humour just doesn't do it for me and it comes across a bit like a story written by a young child. It's relentlessly wacky and the way it swings wildly from setting to setting left me feeling underwhelmed.

If you like fast paced action and something a little bit silly, this could be right up your alley.


AKM: AUTOMATED KILLING MACHINES

Checked this out on a whim but not my thing. Decided to leave a review as I'm not sure what the low rating is about. This is well written with decent fight scenes.

Lots of debauchery but that's obvious given the warning tags. Classic cyberpunk dystopia.

All I can assume is that people got mad at futa being mentioned. It's not even a focus of the story though.

Keep at it Author. Looks a solid read, it just isn't my jam.