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KATALEPSIS

Compelling and gay: the two things I look for in a story

By Anna, author of Fishbowl

Sep 17, 2019: Katalepsis tells the story of Heather Morell, a college student tormented by nightmarish visions she believes to be schizophrenic hallucinations. After a chance encounter with an attractive young woman, Heather learns that her visions are real, and she is thrust into a world of monstrous spirits, horrifying alien dimensions, and unexpected friendships.

From the first chapter, this is an extremely engaging story. The author does a great job striking the right balance of withholding enough information to intrigue readers without confusing them. I’m a big fan of stories that pique my curiosity, and Katalepsis does a great job of this. I didn’t initially intend to read the whole story, but the first chapter left me with so many questions about Heather’s story. Much like Heather herself, I was haunted, and found myself drawn back to the story, desperate to learn more about Heather and her world. The author has a fantastic imagination, and the descriptions of the monsters and other worlds are vivid and terrifying, which made the story all the more intriguing.

For the most part, the writing style is good, although there are a few places that needed a little polish, particularly near the beginning. One thing I have mixed feelings about is the way the author will begin a section by stating what is about to happen. For example, the story’s first line is "On the day I met Raine, the first thing I did was jerk awake in bed and vomit nightmares into my lap." On the one hand, this is intriguing; the reader wants to keep reading to find out who Raine is. On the other hand, it can feel a bit awkward in places.

I really enjoy the characters; they’re all interesting, and have unique personalities. It’s rare to find a story with so many compelling female characters, and even rarer to find a story with compelling lesbian leads.

I don’t want to give too much away, but the story often reads as a romance as much as a cosmic horror story, which I feel is worth mentioning, as it isn’t necessarily evident from the description.

WLW (lesbians in particular) are pretty clearly the target audience here, and as a lesbian, it’s a pleasure to read something so well done featuring characters that are like me. However, the lesbian characters are one of many things about the story I enjoyed, and I think non-lesbians will find plenty about the story to enjoy as well. I’d recommend this story to anyone, regardless of sexuality (provided they’re not a jerk who’s put off by lesbians in fiction, in which case—their loss!)

Overall, this has rapidly become one of my favorite stories, and I would enthusiastically recommend it to fans of horror or urban fantasy, or to anyone who thinks fiction could use more compelling lesbian characters.

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THE WANDERING INN

Wandering interest

By sunflowerofice, author of Technically Abroad

Sep 6, 2019: Alright I have currently read all of the first two volumes of this story so my opinions might change after I have read more, and yes i plan to read more and catch up and be someone who keeps up with how it is currently going.

That said here is my review. First i wanted to give it four and a quarter. I’m not sure why but four feels to low and four and a half feels to high. I can’t really verbalize why to well, but it just feels right saying that.

So lets get started. This is the story that focuses on Erin as a young lady who turned a corner and found herself in another world. When she gets there she has no king waiting for her, no god or goddess to gift her with powers and skills well beyond the rest and no book explaining how everything works in this world.

She finds her life and risk and runs for it and doesn’t stop til she finds an abandoned inn and cleans it up just a bit, not because of any big reason (not that i could think of one for this) but because its so filthy that she can’t even go to sleep and when she goes to sleep she gets a level! in being an [inkeeper]

That is one thing this world has. Levels skills and classes and she gains the inkeeping class.

The next five, not including this one, number of paragraphs will have various level of spoilers so if you dislike them skip appropriately.

Erin is just outside of a town that is filled with a lot of people, but not a single human. She doesn’t even meet another human for a long time. It is full of drakes, gnolls, and to a lesser degree antiniums which are.. . . . the best way to describe it i can think of quickly is bug people. The look more like bugs than people so less like furries i think . . . .

Anyway time goes on and she makes friends, she levels up and shakes a lot of things up to a large degree. She fights against a flesh thief, undead, goblins, and an annoying mage named pisces. and she always seems to come out just fine

She is a bit trusting and obliviuos and despite things, like goblins, trying to kill her she hates the idea of killing in a world much more kill or be killed than earth.

Because of this mindset where everyone should be saved, which im not saying is bad, she saves a thief who destroyed a lot of stuff who was banished from the town which was basically a death sentence. Since her inn was outside the town she took her in to work for her.

Because of this the gnolls basically put the crime from the thief onto her. Not really the best thing. And this is the only comparison i will use from another series and mostly because its so well known. the cultural things are very complex and interesting just like the character like how in harry potter (yes i know everyone compares stuff to this but sorry) how goblins and house elfs mindsets are so different than people.

The characters are very interesting as well. They have different thoughts, motivations, desires, likes and dislikes and so much more.

And the world doesn’t have plot armor. people die and so far don’t come back willy nilly easy peasy lemon squeezy. I hate when people can die and just walk back into the story after a week no matter what.

You also get to see the story from other peoples point of view not just erins.

This is great because it lets you see more of the world and more peoples point of view of things. Seeing the world from a locals pov vs a non locals can be dramatically different.

That said this is the only part i feel brings down my level of enjoyment. While having a lot of people you can read their pov you will have a favorite one and ones you look forward too. On the other side it means there will be people you are less likely to want to be the lead. That doesn’t mean anything bad about it it just means the character doesn’t click with you.

I have one such character. She started out as someone I enjoyed reading about, but lately i felt like I had to force myself to read it. Part of me was tempted to just look at the wiki and skip it but the story is to good to do that.

Many chapters have multiple points of view which is another reason. I am hoping i enjoy the character more in the future like I did when I first met her but like i said that is just my opinion not something you should take as a reason to think down on any level.

So in ending should you read it? Do you like fantasy stories with a bit of real world characterization? if yes than read it! if you just like fantasy in general read it. If you hate fantasy.. . . . then why are you looking at this review this far down? you must be curious so read it!

Sure if you are like me your excitement for each update will vary based on who the story focuses on, but you can always look forward to the next chapter starring the character you like best.

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MOTHER OF LEARNING

The Best Around

By davidmusk, author of Aeonica

Aug 25, 2019: Well, I’ve been enjoying this story over the past couple months, and now—at Chapter at 101—I can finally write a review. Minor spoilers ahead.

Mother of Learning starts with a concept that feels fresh to the fantasy genre: a world trapped in a time loop. The mystery aspect of this story is compelling, and every revelation feels like a genuine step toward real answers. This is a tough thing to accomplish when the mystery is so essential to the plot. Not every eriter can pull it off (I’m looking at you Lost and Game of Thrones.)

The main character (Zorian) is interesting too. Like most protagonists, he starts out flawed and grows along the way. But unlike many stories, this growth isn’t shown through his understanding of the book’s central theme, but rather through his interactions with the world and the people in it. By experiencing the same events in a loop, he comes to see the world differently. He sees his friends and family in a light, and he emphasizes with people he barely noticed before. This is a bit different, but the traditional story frameworks (the Hero’s Journey and the three act structure) are only meant to be guidelines. The author manages to pull of a great story without them.

Style

Overall, I would describe the style as simple and straight-forward. You’re not going to find a lot of lyrical prose or poetic language here, but that’s okay. The nature of the time-loop (and by extension, the plot) means that a lot of things need to be summarized in a concise way. Does this mean there’s a less showing and a more telling? Yes. But the book as a whole doesn’t suffer for that. The writing-style does what it sets out to do, so I won’t hold it to a different standard.

With that said, the book’s style is still its biggest weakness. The descriptions are minimal early on, so it was tricky to get a solid sense of the world and what a comparable time period would be. We’re immediately shown trains, which implies either a modern or semi-modern setting. We also get words like ‘cafeteria’ as opposed to mess hall, which implies a more modern setting as well.

Later on (I want to say past the 10% mark) we’re told that firearms are a fairly new invention so we know we’re not dealing with an entirely modern period. We also get more world-building later on such as airships, newspapers, watches, snow globes, ice boxes, and bank checks. By the end, I definitely had a good feel for the setting.

If I could change something though, I would make the setting clearer in the first few chapters. For example, what sort of lighting do the characters use to see? That can go a long way toward establishing setting in any story. I always imagined some sort of light bulb (either electrical or mana powered) but this is never explicitly stated. The world could just as easily use candles or oil lamps, which would evoke a very different atmosphere.

There were also a few info dumps that went on for 500+ words. These were the only parts of the book where I honestly felt the urge to skim, mostly because they dealt with ancient history or far-off cultures. I can see how this information became important. The problem is, most readers won’t remember all the details when they actually become relevant.

On a more positive side, I loved the parts where Zorian gets sarcastic in the narrative and the reader has to figure out what actually happened. In particular, I’m thinking of the part where a character trips and it’s described as "an accident. Or when Zorian gets into an argument that was described as “calm and civilized" in hindsight. Scenes like this were clever and they always made me chuckle. This humor gets also much stronger toward the second half of the book when he starts forming more long-term relationships with other characters.

Overall, I believe that most of the style issues will be resolved in a later draft. I’m confident about this because the descriptions were noticeably better in the second half. It’s just a matter of the author taking what he learned and re-applying it.

Grammar

I won’t say much here. 99.9% of the book is flawless as far I can tell. Sure, there are a few mistakes. Usually, they involve the narrative switching from present tense and back to past. It’s subtle though—something a non-wtier would barely notice. And as with the style, this is all stuff that can be fixed with editing. It doesn’t distract from the story.

Characters

So, the nature of the timeloop is both a strength and a weakness here when it comes to character development.

For one, the fact that time resets every thirty days means that any non-timelooping character loses all of his/her memories. Naturally, this means that no one one else gets a real character arc. As a result, we miss a lot of those epic moments where minor characters overcome their flaws. The kind of scenes we see and expect from authors like Brandon Sanderson or Will Wight.

On the other hand, the time-loop allows all sorts of ways for secondary characters to keep coming back in different ways. Sometimes, a character might feel like a background character in Chapter 7, only to become important in Chapter 70. Sometimes, a character will go on a date with Zorian because a particular instance of the time-loop resulted in just the right circumstances. Othertimes, Zorian will have a heart-to-heart conversation with someone just because he happened to ask the right questions or observe the right things. This aspect of the time loop feels satisfying because we’re seeing the current pieces being played with in new and interesting ways.

World Building

If you enjoy a detailed world, this is the book for you. Despite the lighter descriptions, everything in this world feels alive. Like everytime you pick up the book, you’re transported to this world. There are different continents, factions, cultures, histories, and technologies, and a detailed magic system. Everything you could hope for in a fantasy story.

Conclusion

Overall, I recommended this story to anyone interested in fantasy. I think it will be especially appealing to anyone who enjoys magic school settings or progression fantasy. As a fan of both sub-genres, it scratches all the right itches for me.

It terms of magic schools, this has it all. A library with a restricted section. Interesting teachers. A variety of subjects. And with the time loop, it’s incredibly satisfying to see the main character approach the same situations in different ways. It doesn’t take long for Zorian to pass his class mates. After that, he’s rivaling even the teachers.

In terms of progression fantasy, things aren’t aren’t as clean cut in terms of advancement levels. Not in the way you might expect from other authors like Will Wight or Andrew Rowe, and definitely not like a litRPG. Even so, the magic system has clear-cut rules, and you can always get a sense of Zorian’s strength, knowledge, and skill relative to the other characters.

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