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QUORIA

Quorias & Quoriaser

By tkjarrah, author of blacklight

Apr 15, 2019: Short Version – if you enjoy the experience of going ‘oh my god no you idiot don’t’ every few paragraphs, Quoria is for you. No, this is not sarcasm.

Long Version – Quoria is a fantasy detective/noir story about Colton McKinley, an ex-con and current PI, and his struggles to get by in the fantasy, 1900s-esque city of Quoria, vexed at every turn by suspicious police, shady clients, and most often, his own tendency to be kind of an idiot.

Quoria (the city) is a great setting, a weird mix of middle/modern fantasy, 1920s New York City and 1950s Heartland America. Think a typical noir city, but throw in magical dolls, soda bars and screamo music in the bars instead of jazz, and you’ll be close. (That last one is a joke . . . or is it?)

The city, and the world in general, give the impression of being very fleshed out (to the point that there’s an entire set of fictional months and respective horoscopes made up), but as the story is fairly small scale, so far we haven’t seen much of it.

That’s okay, though, because the characters are definitely where Quoria (the serial, not the city) really shine. Colton himself is a great protagonist, by virtue of having no common sense whatsoever but being endearing enough that you root for him anyway. If you come from a circle of the internet where ‘disaster gay/bi’ is common, you’ll recognise it instantly in him.

The rest of the cast is just as good – Detective Mabre “Javert But Like Not As Utterly Stupid” Darling and university student/part-time back alley fight club participant/full-time Hawaiian shirt wearer Jude Baer are my personal favourites, but there’s also a dubiously-genuine fortune-teller, Everybody’s Little Brother, definitely just a normal tailor, and others! Something For Everyone!

One piece of information it’s good to have is that updates can be somewhat inconsistent, but we’re all just trying to survive under late-stage capitalism so if you have a problem with that you probably aren’t gonna enjoy this anyway.

Oh, and also everyone’s gay. Go read!

6 of 7 members found this review helpful.
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URBAN REVERIE

Strange, Beautiful, Fantastic

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

Apr 14, 2019: Urban Reverie is a collection of delicious ingredients being cooked for a recipe both completely unknown and completely worthy of examination. The enigmatic Joaquin Saavedra has a few flaws in the storytelling department, grammatical or typographical for the most part, in addition to resorting to explaining certain magical apparatus as “it’s just not possible to understand!” a tad more often than advisable. However, the only other things which I’ve looked at and considered as potential defects constitute matters of taste; considering the collective taste of the work, which I find powdery-sweet with just the right hint of sourness, those defects seem trivial and utterly inconsequential.

Urban Reverie is what you’d get if you took a good bit of English/Gaelic folklore, stirred in a few pinches of Asia Minor and Vedic influence, cut it with a large amount of totally original material, or which certainly seems that way at least, poured it onto a proto-steampunk civilization, and then let it develop into a modern nation after they realize that magic is a good answer to many problems of civil and information engineering. It’s great. For a lorehound it’s like walking into a convention and getting a Christmas present from every third conversation. The mechanics of the universe’s fundamental composure and the essential structuring of magic have a very neat and mathematically-inspired design. For that matter, Joaquin seems to have a fair interest in matters like the Qabalah and traditional Western alchemy (alright, the moniker “dwarf” is used instead of “gnome” – zero stars). It’s serious enough about itself that you’re compelled to also take it seriously, but not above levity sparingly introduced. In fairness to some people, the way that many things are just not spelled out up front might rankle somewhat, but I have enjoyed it greatly.

Without giving much away, because a story’s plot is like dignity – it shouldn’t be idly surrendered without a very compelling reason – the events generally unfold around friends Oberen, Chrysanthemum, and Quinen, who have an unusual relationship to say the least. Things start off with raised eyebrows, on the set of a scene which would make Van Helsing proud, and don’t ever come close to “perfectly standard” despite the portrayal of certain major archetypical locales: the halls of academia, a murder (!?) scene, a dealer’s den, homey little apartments, and so on. Some of this is the alien society in which this all takes place, but it’s a little bit of a mystery, a little bit of political conspiracy, a little bit of crunchy action, and a little bit of other stuff less easily pigeonholed, which results in a . . . well, something like a space opera wearing the skin of unusual fantasy. A bucketful of different species trying to coexist in at least passive-aggressive acceptance, the edifice of a monolithic governing establishment, and a place where even daily routine seems fascinating to freshly-introduced outsiders.

In short, there’s an admirable grand design in Urban Reverie: cute if obviously strange romance, a layered tapestry of lore, interesting people, big-picture planning, and many many places where it’s just cool to read. It’s absolutely worth picking up, and doubly so if you like fantasy that lies well outside shouting distance of Lord of the Rings.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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KILL THE JOKER: SURVIVAL GAME

A Whole New, Unique Experience

By kisikil, author of RATS: 252 Chances At Redemption

Mar 25, 2019: Kill the Joker brings everything that’s good in a story to the table: an engrossing, complex plot brought to life by interesting characters that all contribute to the events happening within in some way. It’s a "death game" story that gives it’s own unique twist, giving the genre a new light and a take to it that’s wholly its own.

There are all kinds of mysteries to solve, but Kill the Joker is exceptionally compelling by adding more than any other of it’s kind could – exploring identity. We go beyond "Who are these people?" and start asking even more daunting questions – What are their names? What are their secrets? Who are the detectives? Who are the serial killers? The stakes are brought higher than they ever have before, and it only makes you want to keep going to solve everything given to you.

The characters are all quirky in their own ways, and they all feel like their own persons. No one character feels like a copy of another, nor do they feel like they fall into any certain tropes, and that’s quite the feat to achieve in such a large cast of characters. The protagonist – fittingly named "Protagonist" – is entertaining and relatable, and how he bounces with each of the others really sets the tone for what this story has in store.

This story may not be written in prose, but the script format it has works perfectly for this sort of story. Scenes that are fast-paced make you feel tense through how the dialogue and narration is set up while slower parts are reflected as such, giving you more time to breathe. How galakei is able to balance what sort of tone the story is in through the script style is phenomenal.

While the story is still early in the plot (around ten updates in at the time of this review), there’s so much packed into it and so much already to want to discover that it truly is an experience to start now. Every mystery yearns to be solved, every character has a story to tell, and every word within is carefully crafted to begin, and to tell, what is so far a fantastic story.

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