Sep 25, 2014: In an alternate Renaissance Italy where certain people—called Stormtouched—manifest supernatural gifts along with invisible companions to help guide them, a young woman named Elena pursues her dream of becoming a professional artist, securing a much-sought-after apprenticeship to one of the great masters of the city of Milia. Unfortunately for her, however, there is as much intrigue as art going on in her new workshop home, and she is a lot less suited for the one than the other.
I have to be honest: the thing that chiefly bothers me about Twisted Cogs is that when I review works I like to delve into their faults, and there just isn’t a lot here that I can criticize. The text suffers from a few glitches here and there, typos and occasional repetitive word choices or missing nouns that might have been smoothed out with some editing, but you have to make allowances for the format; webserials are a little rushed by definition, and have always contained rough touches that wouldn’t fly in more conventionally published work.
Elena herself is my favorite kind of protagonist: flawed enough to make me facepalm at her most obtuse moments, but sufficiently skilled and adept within her own strong suits that she makes an effective viewpoint character. She’s the kind of person I can root for as she grows, learns and occasionally fails in the course of a series.
The world of this story is fantastically unique—the Renaissance angle makes a fascinating new approach to urban fantasy, and the magical system depicted is so original and clever I’m tempted to compare it to some of Sanderson’s better innovations.
Most of all, though, the story itself is beautifully rendered. There’s action, there is certainly a lot of intrigue, but above all there’s a perfectly paced narrative that holds a reader’s interest while allowing them just enough time to get their bearings.
As an additional note, though some purists may argue that it shouldn’t matter when the emphasis of a review should be on the story itself, I have to compliment the site design. It’s attractive and clever, and makes everything seem more interesting. Webserials, like it or not, are more than just words, just like everything else on the Internet, and attention to aesthetic goes a long way.
As a bonus, there are occasional out-of-story chapters of erotica set in the world of Twisted Cogs. These sexy chapters aren’t necessary to follow the story; still, I do recommend reading them if you’re not bothered by erotica, as they contain worldbuilding touches that are interesting and not available in the main storyline. Also, as erotica goes, it’s very well done: it has actual story and characterization, not a bunch of aimless grunting and sweating.
In short, read Twisted Cogs. Maybe read the extras, but definitely read the story.
Sep 17, 2014: And twisted cogs is proof of this. Maddirose, already known for her breakout Sci Fi Smut, Orbital Academy, has taken every lesson of character design, tension, plotting, and story, that she learned in OA, and brought them here.
An alternate history story of Italy where something has happened to create "StormTouched" people with strange artistic powers of creation. Our main character joins a studio to work with a master of his craft, and is in competition with other Stormtouched for a place with the master. Until the strange night when she discovers that the studios of the masters do more than just build . . . .
An interesting note to the story is that while Maddi has continued her trend of separating out X rated chapters, unlike OA, the smut isn’t yet a part of the actual story, the NSFW chapters presented so far more interludes, stories about people not directly connected to the main story line. They are, of course, amazing hot, as her NSFW work always has been.
Twisted Cogs. Read it. (its NOT steampunk, btw. I know, with Cogs in the name, I wondered that myself. )