Jan 11, 2015: Well, this is an interesting read. I had some trouble getting into the flow of it, which accounts for most of the mediocre score. Had some of the technical things not been issues, I probably would have ranked it at solid; another star up.
There were a modest number of typos. Not unsurprising for webfiction, and that didn’t bother me much. It is written primarily in the present tense, which I always have trouble getting into the flow of, but by around chapter four I’d gotten the mental hang of it. The biggest issue I had with the technical side of the writing, though, is that you would fairly frequently see more than one person speaking in the same paragraph, and often without anything indicating who the current speaker was – you had to divine it from context clues and keeping track of how many times you’d seen a closing quotation. That made reading conversations difficult until I got the knack of it, and even then it could get confusing if there was a lot of back and forth between characters.
That’s enough about the technical side of things, though. On to the important part:the story!
I’ll admit that when I read the initial author’s description I thought it sounded a little like the blurb a friend had told me about the Anime Black Butler. Nothing could be farther from the truth, however. The characters are very unique and interesting to read. Without getting too spoilery, I’ll say that this urban fantasy pulls on a lot more elements than the frequently done vampires and werewolves you’ve probably seen a lot of if you’re a fan of the genre.
The story is set in Sweden, so a lot of the fantasy elements are pulled from there as well, but the author also incorporates other mythological and magical beings on the premise that immortals will have traveled quite a bit in the courses of their lifetimes, so you’ll see a lot of variety as that part of the story becomes more prominent. Magic is predominantly secret from mortals, a trope that I, at least, enjoy, and is central to the primary plot – which is more mystery/suspense than the adventure/action usually associated with urban fantasy. Although intermittent chapters give us some insight into the motivations and intentions of the antagonist, we are still left speculating about a great deal – including who exactly it is and who will be targets. (Those chapters never reveal more than one step in a plan that clearly involves striking down many.)
With that said, the driving force of this story isn’t the plot – it’s the characters. This reads more as a coming of age slice of life, where the slices are taken from a life that happens to get mixed up with magic, murder, and mayhem. The protagonist exhibits a combination of social awkwardness and analytical thinking that makes him pretty sympathetic as well as interesting to read. The fact that he was born and raised in Sweden also adds cultural elements that I, at least, really enjoyed. (Most of the urban fantasy I’m familiar with frames place in America or England, which made this story’s cultural setting both real and genre appropriate, but also new and interesting to me.
All said, if you’re okay with first person narratives and think you can deal with the compacted conversations, then this is well worth reading if you are a fan of urban fantasy, coming of age, or mythological fiction. If you’re on the fence regarding those technical issues, then I’d still say this is worth a look. Give it a few chapters to see if you can adjust to it, and you might be pleasantly surprised with the story you get out of it.
If, on the other hand, you don’t like conversations where it doesn’t explicitly state who the current speaker is, then you’ll probably find this to be too frustrating, since in this story you don’t even get paragraph breaks to indicate a change of speaker all the time. (But the author does always at least close quotes and start a new open quote if the speaker changes within the same paragraph.)
Ultimately it’s your call – but I’m glad I toughed it out, and I’ll probably be back once a month or so (to make sure that there are enough updates for me to get back in the flow of the writing style when I’m ready to catch up).
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