I felt that it deserved an early five star review. I'm enjoying what I've read way too much. As usual when I post an interim review, I promise to give an advanced one once I'm further along and have a chance.
You should read this if you're considering it. The pace and flow are great. I haven't lagged anywhere yet.
I've been reading HWFWM for a few months now and even became a patreon so I could get the most recent chapters delivered daily. There's a charm to Jason Asano and his evolving character that spans the breadth of emotion. I get to admire the character for being strong, vulnerable, defiant, arrogant, friendly, humble, quirky, funny...
Jason is the kind of guy who whips out a sandwich and shares a fruit punch with friends... all in the middle of a monster infested warzone, reminding us all that it's important to slow down every now and then and enjoy the journey. That strikes a chord with me. I hope it will with you too.
Oreo (Good, Bad, Best) Review
The Good: the author has an excellent command of language. Likely one of the best on Royal Road. The prose reads like poetry in many places. The tone of the prose is heavily weighted toward emotional descriptions. As others have commented, it might be comparable to a Gothic style. I'm not familiar enough with the style to be able to say how fresh and new this author has made it. I can say that it is refreshing to read.
The Bad: The very virtue previously mentioned of poetic, heavily metaphorical and emotional prose can get thick in places where one might want the story to 'get on with it'. This reviewer does not believe it merits a lower score as it would reflect poorly on what is essentially a byproduct of being a draft, as most of the fiction on Royal Road is wont to be. This reviewer sufficiently appreciates the writer's skill that even the "fat" that may one day be trimmed still has a pleasant flavor.
The Best: The immersive quality of the story, enhanced by such a rich texture via the language, dialogue and characterizations, makes this fiction an excellent read. Keep an eye out for this book when it is released. I predict it will be a best seller one day. A rare literary gem in the Fantasy genre that is more populated with entertaining pulp that true literature.
Okay so I had to literally take a break from reading to collect myself after reading the third chapter. I won't tell you if it was a happy or sad cry.
Instead, I challenge you thusly: if you read this review, then you must read this fiction until you have finished the chapter titled Volka, which is chapter three. Only then are you permitted to decide whether this fiction is worthy or not. You will not be disappointed.
Oreo (Good, Bad, Best) Review:
Good: The language is top-notch, the grammar is professional and mostly invisible (that's what we want). The imagery is solid, and the characters are relatable, believable, and real.
The Bad: A good writer who knows their craft would find it difficult to identify faults in this fiction that are not purely based on preferences. This fiction is professionally written and an editor's unicorn. Which is to say, easy to read and polish into a finished draft. I wouldn't be surprised if this author is already working with an editor. If you don't like this fiction it is because the genre or premise isn't a good fit. And that's always okay.
The Best: By far, the best thing about the fiction is its ability to evoke strong emotion. I read to be taken places I have never been and to feel things I have never felt. Or, to see and feel things which are familiar and I wish to see and feel again.
In just three chapters, this fiction gave me all the feels. The familiarity of being in the military, of feeling safe among friends and fellow Soldiers in foreign lands. The apprehension of traveling through enemy territory, the compassion one feels for the locals there, but the danger they always pose. All the feels within a world teasing of things magical.
I read a couple of chapters and liked them. They read like poetry in some places, and while the stories and lessons feel familiar, they're worth reading as they function as a kind of reflection.
The pacing is good, the grammar is excellent, and the imagery is viceral. I would say it's better written than most of what I come across in RR.
So far, it doesn't feel like we're getting an overarching plot. The author mentions this in the description.
It feels like reading a koan and meditating on its greater meaning.
An honest OREO (good, bad, best) review:
The Good: It's easy to like the characters. Kai is a supernatural creature with a few weaknesses, but with a moral compass. In the first few chapters, you learn what he is good at and you learn the quirks of his powers, mainly that he has trouble controlling his transformation when he is emotionally ovwrwhelmed. This happens very frequently fairly early on every time he becomes aroused by a certain female character.
The Bad: Sometimes, the author gets into explanations about things that don't really matter. These are easy to sk through or skip without missing anything. I would prefer not to have to do that when reading. If those details become important later, the author could simply explain them when they are relevant so long as they've been adequately set up. An example is the matter of the 'trust fund' scenario for the MC which explains how he was able to start living with his childhood friend. I would rather have spent those early moments in the fiction seeing instances of the MC's moral strength and courage which makes him an alpha male among other males, but horribly inexperienced with women, rather than being told in the author's notes that this is so.
The Best: I really enjoyed the romance and the erotic scenes. There is a stark contrast in language when things become erotic that was a bit jarring, but I still enjoyed the build up and release between romance and sex. I will emphasize here as the author does in the notes: the story is, indeed, character driven and is not a smut fest. I felt very teased and liked the characters enough that I cared about them when they finally hooked up. I think the author could have made the situation more believable by writing in some time between when the redhead and MC finally become aware of their feelings for each other, and when they do their first sexy things together. Maybe actually give them their first date a few days or an in-story week after. Even a one or two paragraph time lapse would have made it more believable, as her trauma should have had a greater impact on her romantic state of mind. I still enjoyed it and will mention it only as a minor annoyance rather than a dealbreaker.
Conclusion: The story is decently written with a flow that doesn't make it too challenging to get through, even if there are a few friction points early on. I still mark this fiction a cut above others on RR in its genre. I wish the author the best and encourage you to give her a fair chance.