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BLACKLIGHT

Chromatic Conspiracies Chasing Children (also people getting mulched)

By ElliottThomasStaude, author of Mourners, Abednego, Persistence

Jun 14, 2019: Blacklight is an odd duck. Total honesty: at first, it seemed like it was a superhero work doing everything in its power to disguise that fact – nothing against superhero fiction, but it carries certain expectations. Instead . . . it’s not exactly clear into what bucket Blacklight should get shoved. First, the setting’s an Earth-like locale with countries that have certain obvious parallels to present day but nothing so transparent as simply renaming France to Nonexistentia or some such. It’s not something that falls under “alternate history,” though I suppose you might run into something like the world described therein if the Romans had gotten their phalanxes handed to them by one of their many historically subjugated foes. There’s a bit of mystery, in that there’s an urban fantasy vibe which the majority of people just don’t understand or acknowledge (dead siblings coming back as ghosts and such). A pinch of political bug-ranching here and there. In the final calculus, though, imagine Pokemon where the Pokemon are different exotic matter substances, there are far fewer Pokemon in existence, the act of winning a Pokemon battle is achieved when the other person stops breathing, and you’re a homeless person who never asked to be inducted into an illegal sort-of-sorcerous back-alley cage match fighting lifestyle and who just wants some confidence in getting your next meal. It’s like pogs but with murder, and murder’s about the only way to believably escalate the pogs model in any case.

So far, Blacklight’s marshaling forces to become the best supernatural THING it can be. The cast is a bit odd; main character’s a vagrant youth exclusively haunted by her dead sister, trying to go along and get along in a country where she has difficulty speaking the language, let alone being evenly treated in light of her ethnicity. The one has massive personal issues from her sister and the fact that she’s being dragged feet first into stuff she doesn’t understand, and the other one has massive personal issues on account of being dead. They’re a dynamic duo, sure enough, and it’s interesting how much common ground you can have with someone talking to a floating person that relentlessly teases her and who regularly has to go days without food fit for human consumption. It’s a surprisingly thematically sturdy work; there’s elements of coping with racial ostracism, but it also dives into matters of where one’s planting their roots constitutes “home.” It asks questions touching on the nature of abandonment. When you look into Blacklight, you’re looking into something quixotic in the best way possible; on the one hand, the more traditional sense of lone-understanding where the principal cast has an understanding of a secret world. On the other hand, it asks where one falls when strong conviction rams up against everything our peers say can possibly be true.

So far, Blacklight has thrown a hundred questions into the air and provided very very few answers. As things go forward, hopefully resolution will pick up momentum, but that fifty two pickup of information dump may put some readers off its progression. I find it endearing, but being a weird person on every level that may not hold for everybody. Other than that, though, the tiny snippets of story dispersal might strike a bit of a sour note. There’s obviously the intent to keep people updated on the goings-on of the incredible necromancer sister and her sibling’s antics. However, the decision to make more frequent publishings of smaller quantity gives it a bit much of a start-stop air. Perhaps twice the length of an episode put out half as often will improve other peoples’ enjoyment as well by letting them stay in the action longer. It’s something worth following, but as a binge-inclined individual I prefer my medicine to come in slightly larger doses.

Urban fantasy with kind-of-historical fiction and character driven storytelling is a jam that many will appreciate. Solid grasp of cerebral philosophy. There’s something worthwhile to be had here for a lot of consumers, if they’re willing to supply the patient attention. Weird? Several kinds of weird. And weird will always have a place setting at THIS table.

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AKA

Also Known As…Quite Promising

By Hejin57, author of Music Masters

Mar 16, 2019: It seems the age of web fiction is a sea of superhero stories these days. It becomes more and more difficult to separate various stories in settings that seem to melt in one another.

On today’s agenda we have the aptly named aka, a pretty clever title if I may say so.

The story of this ongoing tale revolves around one Nathaniel Thomas Peterson, who lives in a world where metahumans, or metas, are a known and accepted fact of life.

This particular setting though, goes all in when it comes to government involvement with supers, sort of echoing what might have happened if Iron Man had won Civil War. Laws on metahuman activity are strictly monitored and punishments for using ones powers unsanctioned are quite severe.

Nathan, however, has no desire to use his powers, opting instead to live a simple life as a janitor at the well-known Daedalus Technologies.

Like many stories, the story is told in the first-person point of view. It does a good job of portraying Nathan himself, but I lament not getting to know more about other characters such as the Eagle, Anarchist, and his liaison James.

Speaking of Nathan, he’s perhaps not the most unique character, but he gives off at least a likable vibe comparable to Peter Petrelli of Heroes fame or Will Hunting. Nathan’s power, when finally shown, is at least interesting enough that the story keeps you wondering how it may develop and grow as the story goes along.

While the supporting cast isn’t anything mind-blowing, there are some highlights in some later villains and in the interesting relationship between Nathaniel and his liaison James.

Beyond the idea of metahuman parole officers being pretty interesting, I think something that sets this story apart is that it focuses on Nathan’s unwillingness to confront the idea of being a hero, as he’d much rather live a simple, mundane life than face the stresses that heroes have to handle in this day and age.

As mentioned before, the first villains shown so far, the aptly named Gold Diggers, show a lot of potential in particular from what we see of them in the most recent chapter.

My only really complaint with the story might be its shaky beginning, which can come off as little bland and has some minor spelling and grammar mistakes. The narrative and voice definitely gets a lot stronger as the chapters go on though, and based on recent developments, seems to be going in a very promising direction. I feel the setting itself isn’t necessarily bad per say, just needing maybe an extra bit of flair to separate it from so many other superhero settings. Not so much the author’s fault though, it is hard to stand out with so many superhero stories these days.

All in all, I think the best way to describe this story is vanilla: it’s not bad really, but it’s a flavor we’ve tasted time and time again. A pleasant one, but lacking some uniqueness.

That being said, I think the mundane angle works really well when it’s used, and the story can only grow from here.

Final score: 3.5/5

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AMBER SILVERBLOOD

First Impression, Fun

By LadyAnder, author of Edict

Jul 5, 2018: This review is written in the perspective as a dyslexic reader as well as a first impression review. If you don’t know what that means, I’m basing my review off the first several chapter of a novel. Normally 5-10 chapter. This time I read to ch.12 because I have no self-control.

I like to mention I have a dislike of urban fantasy. Of all the fantasy sub-genres out there, urban fantasy annoys me the most in that is has to adhere to the same handful of conventions that are checked off a list. This goes for both adult and YA urban fantasy. That’s being said, I didn’t mind this story.

The story itself is about Amber, a high school student and recently turned werewolf who gets taken into magical custody by wizards wielding magical scepters to keep her away from a demon. Why the demon want her . . . shrug As of chapter 12, this bit of information wasn’t dropped, but I’m sure it has to do with her being a silverblood or werewolf who resists silver. That’s why the wizard want her though any more details than that isn’t shared either. And that’s about all I can talk about before I get into too much spoiler territory.

The writing is very consistent and the story moves along. However, I do have a slight nitpick in that there is an issue in the first two-three chapters where descriptions are a bit too sparse. It’s missing some atmosphere I suppose in places. Things just happen and I didn’t get a good picture of the surrounding in my mind. When you cross into chapter 4, that’s not a problem anymore. Maybe I got used to the minimalism but it felt as if the writing got better after the ground work chapters have been place. The only time pacing bothered me was chapter 10 and 11. Chapter 10 kind of felt it needed to be part off 11 because chapter 10 is short and the end just hangs there and then chapter 11 starts right up.

Let’s move to our main character and narrator.

Amber reminds me of Harry from Harry Potter in that she’s passable. That meaning that there isn’t anything bad about her character construction it’s her depth, it’s simple. Becoming a werewolf hasn’t been easy for her and clearly affects her but, it’s given as much depth as it needs to for the type of story this is. The story is simple and I don’t mean that in the bad way. Not all stories need to be told the same way and need to approach in the same fashion. Weighing it down with complexity might ruin the fun because this is a fun story to me.

As a dyslexic, I really appreciate something easy to follow. Something I can keep turning pages and enjoy. It something you read between tedious things because your mind needs to rest a bit. I did read this by listening to it using text-to-speech and it reads rather well. There aren’t too many errors present. There are some but they are minor and few. If there were some visually, I missed them.

That being said, my rating for this story is indulging in comfort food/10. And if you want stars, 3.5/5. It’s a fun read like eating junk food. But if you are looking to read something complex to go along with gourmet tastes, this novel isn’t it. If you’re like me, don’t mind the simplicity and straightforwardness of it, of then you will enjoy it.

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