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Editor’s First Impression

By Palladian, editor, author of Super

Apr 3, 2013: I enjoyed reading the first eleven chapters of The Watchmage of New York, and I’m interested to see where this series goes next. The story is set in New York City of the 1850’s, and we follow Nathaniel Hood, a 150-year old mage whose duty is to watch over the otherworldly citizens of the city, helping or dispensing justice as the situation dictates.

The writer’s take on the non-humans inhabiting the city is fascinating in its own right, and I found myself wanting more information on the various races – trolls, ogres, sidhe, and pooka alike. The way the author presents magical workings in the story is also appealing, and I look forward to finding more out about it as the story progresses.

Another of the things I liked especially was the way the author made the New York City of the past come alive in this story. I could get a sense both of what it was like in the 1850’s, as well as previously, due to the main character’s span of history, which he seems to have spent much of in the same town. For lovers of historical dramas, take note, because I think you’ll especially like this aspect of the series.

My hope as I read through the first story in the series was that the author would come up with a way to actually challenge the main character. Nathaniel is presented as old and powerful enough to conquer just about any challenge that comes his way. Although that’s what I’d expect for someone who was named the magical watchdog of a large city, I had trouble seeing that many of the opponents that he came up against in the first story would actually be a match for him. Chapters 10 and 11 are part of the second story in the series, however, and it seems like the author is rising to the occasion and bringing someone (or maybe a number of people) who can give Nathaniel a run for his money. That’s definitely what I’d like to see more of as this story progresses, in order to keep things interesting.

The only other thing I can think of to add is a request to the author to get another set of eyes before you post; most of the text is fairly clean, but there’s the occasional typo that set me on my ear, often one a chapter. For example, “wonton woman” definitely set my imagination spinning, since it sounds like something you might find on the menu in a dodgy Chinese restaurant, but I’m guessing that’s not what the author was going for in that sentence. Another note for readers – reading more than the first chapter requires a free registration with Jukepop Serials.

At any rate, I found the story entertaining and the recent developments hopeful, so I can recommend reading it, especially if you like magical fantasy or historical adventures.

5 of 5 members found this review helpful.
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A bit stilted, but not -that- bad.

By Rika Covenant, member

Apr 1, 2013: A bit stilted, but seems to be a good read nontheless. Seems to be in the same general concept vein as Dresden Files, but over in New York instead of Chicago, amongst many other smaller differences.

The flow of the reading is a bit stymied at times, getting interrupted by a plethora of periods chopping each paragraph into a multitude of shorter sentences than one usually expects to see, It feels like the world-building is a bit too dry and technical, eschewing the emotional atachment that the characters might have for things in favour of giving a technical description to set the story as quickly as possible.

If you don’t mind going through the (free) registration process and enjoy stories of magic in mundanity, and can bear or enjoy the style (At least give the first chapter a read to get a feel for it) then I’d recommend at least giving it a once-through. If you can’t find yourself enjoying the style, then you might want to give it a pass.

4 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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Words Obscuring Story

By Ingstrand, member

Mar 2, 2013: As far as I can tell, E.L.F. has an interesting concept, an exciting story and engaging characters. I won’t find out more about any of them, unfortunately, because the language is close to unreadable.

I realize that this is a strong statement, so let me qualify it. Other readers might not bother as much about language as I do. Some of the things that bother me could be regional language variations that I’m not aware of, and the situation almost certainly improves as the story proceeds and the author becomes more experienced. In any case, a review shouldn’t be about language alone, but I can’t very well make a statement like ‘close to unreadable’ without giving examples. I’ll briefly mention a few things that I react to in the first paragraph.

Let’s begin with the always important first sentence: ‘Screened away from unwanted eyes by northwest country ferns bedazzled by fat droplets from the rains never far from recent, Shannon Hunter crouched in the dark.’ ‘Rains never far from recent’ is ungrammatical, but there is another problem here. In the first part of the sentence, we find out that 1) something or someone is screened away, 2) the screening protects from eyes that aren’t wanted (a rather strange idea, but we still don’t know anything about the world of the story), 3) the screening is done by northwest country ferns, 4) we are probably in the northwestern part of wherever the story takes place, 5) the ferns are wet, 6) it rains a lot. This part of the sentence is so long, dense and unwieldy that by the time we reach the terse and effective ‘Shannon Hunter crouched in the dark,’ it has all become a confusing jumble. We have to go back and try to figure out what we just read, and any chance to pull the reader into the story straight away is lost.

The next sentence is ‘But not as some cowering whelp.’ I have no problems with the grammar, but the voice makes me stop again—who would use an expression like ‘cowering whelp’? Perhaps someone like Denethor in The Lord of the Rings, high-status, archaic wording for an angry high-status character in an epic setting. Not that a narrator couldn’t sound like that, but the narration would draw the reader’s attention to itself rather than become a transparent window to the events of the story (which would be perfectly all right if that was the author’s attention and the voice was kept consistent).

Only minor quibbles for the rest of the paragraph; surely hiding is a ‘result’ rather than a ‘product’ of fear, and surely hunters use weapons rather than tools. Small details, but when there is a small detail like that in nearly every sentence, reading becomes a start-and-stop-and-start-again activity that soon wears me out. Which is a shame, because I would have loved to read this novel.

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