The Blank 34

Fun, terrifying, and more than a bit silly

This is a fun (if occasionally creepy) SF story. Despite the fact that April 14 keeps repeating, this is NOT a loop story - time moves forward for everyone... though perhaps not everything. Why and how... well, those are the questions the students need to answer. 

Chase continually jokes while under pressure; it works for him and adds a note of levity to the story. 

Also worth noting: this story is complete. 


Of Magic and Monsters (Book 1: The Warlock's Curse)

This is a well written urban fantasy. The main character is a teenager and definitely feels like one. You're never quite sure who the enemy is until the end ... and the answer probably is that Ethan needs to be cautious of all of them. 

This is written like the first book in a series, but the story in this book IS complete at the end. 

The Divine Gambit

James is a good man. He may even be too good for his own health ... at least, if he didn't happen to be more powerful than is reasonable. Not that he knows that when this starts; as far as he knows, he's just an ordinary college student getting close to graduation.

Now ... he will probably never graduate, at least not unless you count everything he's going to have to learn about dealing with high-power people in a hidden world. He's going to need to make his own position in the world and I have the feeling it's not going to be exactly what the current powers would prefer.

Good grammar, enjoyable style and a story that looks like it's going places with distinct, mostly likable characters - it's hard to beat that.

The only real caution at the moment is not one I'd take off a star for, but it is something to be aware of: the release pace is once a month. The chapters are a good length and well-polished when they do come out.

the only one who remembers

This is Caleb's sixth life; the events mentioned on the Holy Island of Velence are from his first. When he dies, he returns to a fateful day as a child. This time, he has a plan, and based on everything he knows it should work. Unfortunately, he's about to find out just how much he didn't know to even try to learn about the situation...

Caleb's an interesting character. He's been badly hurt by his past, but he's coping and trying to fix things. He's far more realistic than many loop protagonists; he's still human and able to make new connections and care, but it's clear that the burden of being the only one who remembers weighs on him heavily. 

The other characters are clear people with their own motivations. 

Chapter 200 is the end of Book One.

The Jester of Apocalypse

It's still early for me to review a fiction, but since there are no other reviews I figure I should put one out there.

As of this review, we're 9 chapters in and have made it to the arc promised in the description - the 'hellish loop'. I think we might even be getting close to the end of the loops, but it's hard to say. That depends on Neave succeeding at what he's trying this time.

The interactions at the sect before Neave was trapped made sense; they were well-written and the people were understandable. The time he's been trapped has also been well-written and understandable, showcasing the environment, the challenge, and Neave's various issues and attempts to overcome it. It keeps moving and doesn't feel stale.

I'm personally looking forward to seeing how Neave handles things after he gets back out; that's going to be a make-or-break point for the story. He's been changed by his time stuck alone, but what does that really mean when he's back with people?

Tainted Reflections (A Litrpg Portal Apocalypse)

There's a distinct lack of recent reviews, so I figured I should fix that.

Seb is a world-weary man damaged by the life he's led since Earth's death ... until he finds out that it was a training run that he's not supposed to remember because he's not one of the 'chosen ones'. Instead, his 'core function' (in another fiction, this would be called a 'personal ability' or something like that) was taken from him to be given to one of the 'chosen ones', leaving him damaged.

He's saved (wouldn't be much of a story otherwise), but the way he's saved sends him into a place that he shouldn't be in. A place that isn't based on humanity but on an alien species.

From there, he has to figure out who he is and what he's willing to do to reach his goals.

Figuring out what those goals are would be a good start.

By the point I'm at in the story, he's made a very good start on that; he has some short term goals, some long term goals, some allies - and naturally at least one enemy.

Oh, and the being that saved him? They're powerful but also powerfully limited. A major character in their own right (and one I really rather like).

Style: Overall, I enjoy the style. I docked a star because of unintended confusion; this seems like an area where CyberCinder has been improving as the newer chapters are significantly clearer and easier to follow, but there are a few things earlier on that need some cleanup work.

Grammar: It's good. It's easy to read and it flows; that's all I ask of grammar.

Story: The plot is enjoyable. It's hard to say more than that without just repeating a summary, but I can say that it's driven by both the characters acting naturally and the outside world; in that way, it feels very realistic and also keeps moving forward. There are fantastical elements, which are required by the setting, but they aren't there to be deus ex machina; they're integral to the setting and the story.

The pace is reasonable; if anything, it may be a bit fast early on (but I already took off the star for that in Style so I don't need to hit it again here). It's smoothed out to a good pace where events are happening but you have enough time to know what's going on before you move past them.

The worldbuilding is excellent. This applies both to the system behind everything (which is annoyingly but not unreasonably not detailed by the main character who knows it well until far later in the story than I wanted it) and to the various groupings that have established themselves (okay, I'm still a little confused by the Staura society and the Keratilys in particular but ... first, they're aliens and second I think we're supposed to be at this point. I'm definitely angry with both and that's decidedly warranted, whatever their reasoning is).

Character: Excellent characterization. I know who each person in the core group is, generally what they want, and how they'll react to things. They can still surprise me, but it's somehow always within character for them. They aren't cookie-cutter; they're individuals. Flawed individuals.

Outside the core group, there are several major people who are well characterized. I don't understand Endra at all, but I'm pretty sure I'm not supposed to at this point - it's clear that she has goals and that we don't know what they are (other than killing Seb, anyway).

Here's a special call-out to the Mortician because I really like that character. I don't want to say more because spoilers :-)


A story of Gods and mortals

This is a story with two main threads: first is the story of Joe, rudely taken from his breakfast table and sent to a fantasy world. Second is the story of the divine bureaucracy and how both allies and enemies of Joe and his new deity will try to use it. 

In many ways, the story of the gods (and cryptids) is the more normal of the two, dealing the three fallout of the past. 

While not the most polished work I've ever read, it's a fun read, worth giving a chance. 

Currently at the end of Book One; here's hoping there's a Book Two someday. 

Draconic Karma Dungeon

Mostly clear cut morality tale

This is a fun, well written dungeon core story. It's an easy read with an interesting protagonist. 

If you're looking for a dungeon out to kill people, this story is definitely not for you. Instead, the dungeon is following the dictates of the god who made the world: kill the evil, help the good. 

Some of the characters are as much caricature as character, which is appropriate for a morality tale, but at the same time there are both situations (can we say mind control?) and characters (is it really a bad thing to want to control all of the kill-happy resource-creators?) which are more complex. Some of the answers are in the end obvious, once everything is known, but the dungeon core still has to work through the process to get there. 

The Port Coulee Files

Slow Start to the first story in a series

This is an interesting story, though it us slow to get moving, doing a lot of setup before bringing in the main plot. With that said, we learn a lot about the main characters, especially C and Eldridge, so it's not wasted time. 

The epilogue is at a good pause point; the setup is complete with a number of major characters introduced along with the background and so is the first challenge. It's clear there's more story to tell. 

If you're looking at this because it's a litRPG, be aware that the status screens don't start until well over halfway through the story so far. 

Dungeon Life

It's a bit early for a review - only seven chapters in, and all on the same day - but so far, this is a thoroughly entertaining beginning to a dungeon core story.

It's on the "cooperative" end of the spectrum - the humans know what's going on and so does the dungeon; this is about challenge, not killing. There are four characters other than the core so far, so I'm expecting a lot of this to be about how the dungeon (an old abandoned mansion, by the way), interacts with people. So far, this is being handled quite well.

Nice creativity on what the house develops; the dungeon denizens (and invaders) fit the setting quite well so far.

The grammar's good, too.