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Tough to read, but an interesting tale

By Nina Santucci, author of Fooled

Dec 27, 2014: Okay, well here is my first review for Web Fiction Guide, hopefully it is helpful.

I need to start off by saying that I only read Chapter 1. This story is posted on the website Jukepop, which apparently requires readers to sign up if they want to read anything past chapter 1. I would have liked to read more, but I was not interested enough to go through the annoying process of creating and verifying an account. In my opinion, the first chapter needs to be reworked so readers jump to sign up for a chance to read more. Alternately, it could be posted on a completely open site, so that half-interested readers like me can continue to peruse the story easily and possibly get hooked later on.

Now regarding Chapter 1, I could tell right away that the style of this story is an acquired taste. The style reminds me a lot of Mervyn Peake’s Gormenghast series. I happened to like Gormenghast, and all those stories with long descriptions and world-building, but I think I am in the minority, and that other readers might be turned-off by the exposition in the first chapter. What was more bothersome to me was that the author immediately started throwing world-specific terms at me that made absolutely no sense at all, despite the world-building. If the reader is paying very close attention, you could figure out that the "Lartchthiss and Lartchthissa of Catchawen" were nobles of some kind, or that a "button-eyed shoutbear" is some kind of animal, but having all these terms listed one after another is unnecessarily tiring and could discourage readers used to more modern, fast-paced fiction. The strange terms also seem out of place if this story is supposed to be "steampunk," which relies on the industrial revolution. These names and descriptors seem more antique or medieval instead.

However, once you get over the confusing jargon, the story itself is actually pretty interesting. Lutnae is obviously a spoiled brat, but somehow she is so self-confident she is likable. (I have a hard time believing she’s only 11, though, because I don’t think 11-year-olds, even bratty ones, are usually this self aware.) You immediately get a sense of how awful she is by the way she treats her kindly servant, which is a good introductory scene. I also loved the contrast between her and her betrothed prince Cuy, their opposing personalities played off one another very well and I felt bad for Cuy . . . even though I understand why Lutnae wouldn’t want to marry him! I can tell that there is a lot of room for Lutnae to have a strong character development arc.

I think that this first chapter could be improved by cutting some of the odd terminology, because not all of it is necessary, it clutters up the narrative, and it will confuse readers. I also think moving the story to a public site is necessary if you want non-Jukepop readers to keep reading. However, I think the story has a lot of potential, and it is definitely very creative and unique.

3 of 4 members found this review helpful.
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