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HERETICAL EDGE

No title

By CelestialDrafts, author of Carnage

Feb 21, 2022: Possibly my favorite story. I find myself eager to read every new chapter as soon as it releases, and even though we are about 2 million words into the story, I’m not getting tired of the setting at all. Cerulean is a master at worldbuilding and character writing.

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THE LUCKLESS MAGE OF GREIDWHEN ACADEMY

Neville in the spotlight

By theredsheep, author of Pyrebound

Apr 6, 2019: It’s not high art. It won’t teach you any grand lessons about the human condition. As the self-described amateur author’s preface admits, it isn’t even particularly well-written. But you know what? That’s okay. It knows what it’s trying to do, it does it, and it doesn’t put on airs. That’s worth something.

What we have here is essentially Harry Potter with a female Neville Longbottom as the hero. It’s a wizarding school without the shadow of Voldemort; the drama so far revolves around Lucy being in so grossly over her head that she’s the laughingstock of the school and faces expulsion if she doesn’t turn it around sharply. The blurb hints at higher stakes, but it’s a young story yet.

What’s good? The author obviously put considerably greater thought into the nuts and bolts of his magic system than one sees at Hogwarts, so if you ever got annoyed by J.K. Rowling’s "oh, well, they have a workaround for that bloody obvious exploit your eight-year-old just thought of," you have a much lower chance of seeing that here. It also doesn’t overdo it on the introspective angst, and doesn’t stop to shove irrelevant worldbuilding trivia down your throat like you’re a foie gras goose. That’s two distressingly common pitfalls avoided. In general, it moves briskly.

What’s bad? The writing, as noted, isn’t terrific, but mostly it suffers from bloat—many details are described with two words where one would do, and there are a bunch of unnecessary explanatory clauses. If the author learned to trust himself and his readers with tight prose, that would take care of eighty percent of it. And, to be fair, it’s YA, so beating your reader upside the head with the point is not a mortal sin. This tale isn’t half as inhumane about it as, say, Divergent. More seriously, the characters are fairly cardboard at this point, especially the stock-sadist villain. And it uses "whom" for "who" several times. I have killed men for less.

What’s the bottom line? If you’re waiting for a bus and need something clean, sweet, and straightforward, you could do worse.

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YOUR TYPICAL ISEKAI LITRPG

Hmmmm

By Thedude3445, author of Rainbow Destructor

Mar 13, 2019: Very mixed feelings on this "Your Typical Isekai LitRPG" story. For one, on its face in the "marketing"— e.g. the chapter titles, the author notes, the cover— everything about the series suggests that it’s going to be a wacky comedy, an absolute send-up of one of the most derided genres in web fiction today, the Isekai LitRPG.. The story is very generic in setup— a Japanese class is summoned to a fantasy world where there are RPG stats, and are quested to save it and such, and there’s quite a few wacky fourth wall breaking events. But for some reason, the story itself is largely pretty self-serious.

It’s weird and surprising how unfunny the story is. Not as in the jokes are bad— they’re decent when they’re there . . . It’s just that, most of the time, they’re not there! The characters endlessly debate and argue and yell at each other, and the worldbuilding appears to be pretty seriously done. For how joking it appears at first, the story does not actually deliver much on laughs.

And because of that, the story never actually took off for me and I quickly lost interest by the lack of parody and humor that was heavily advertised.

The author appeared to have started an attempt to "revamp" the story by editing earlier chapters, but it appears to have been abandoned midway through the process. I don’t think it will go anywhere from there.

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