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WOLF, OWL, & BLACK APPLE

A Scifi-Fantasy-Noir Sure to Excite and Entertain!

By Marn, author of Deep, Blue, Bottomless

Oct 17, 2015: Wolf, Owl, and Black Apple is one of my favorite currently-running serials, primarily because how completely unique it is compared to everything else out there. Not many other stories can boast a world that is a seamless blending of noir, fantasy, and science fiction – not quite urban fantasy, as some of the gadgets the characters have are pretty out there compared to present day technology. It’s unlike any fantasy setting you’ve ever read before. Crime solving in a universe where dwarves and bird-people exist alongside smartphones? Sign me up.

The characters of WOBA are also a huge selling point. Juniper and Noel have a great dynamic, and Blake really nails the feeling that these two are longtime, childhood friends without them having to state that fact over and over to remind the reader of it. Forsetti, the immortal detective, is probably my favorite protagonist, and every new detail about her only makes me hungry for more. Blake populates the world of WOBA with lively characters that are just as unique as the setting they’re placed in, allowing them to pop off the page. If you’re a sucker for well-rounded characters with great development, I highly recommend this serial.

Yes, the updates do tend to get wordy sometimes, but it’s easy to see how that’s just a part of the style that WOBA is written in. The long chunks of text never dip into purple prose territory – they generally provide pretty important descriptions and information, and they’re by no means boring. This does mean that some parts of WOBA take longer than usual to read, but in my mind, it’s worth it. Since WOBA is currently on hiatus, it’s a good time for new readers to jump in and take their time with it before updates resume.

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WOLF, OWL, & BLACK APPLE

Painfully wordy, otherwise good

By TanaNari, author of Price

Oct 16, 2015: Alright. We start with an in-media-res opening. Pretty standard- one might even say cliché- these days. I’m not complaining, I love the style, but I know plenty who disagree. Bare bones- guy and girl captured by shady criminal organization, the setting and characters are introduced pretty quickly and expanded outward from that point.

On to the review. Numbers time:

Writing: 1.5 out of 5.

The writer is technically excellent, without any notable typos or grammar issues. There just needs to be less repetition and more variety

Throughout the first scene (a total of around 1k words), one character gets referred to as "the young man" fourteen times.

The first real paragraph is 100 words. One Hundred Words. "The young man" happens three times in that paragraph alone. And this isn’t an isolated thing, this is the style of this writer.

The whole 1k scene of the first chapter only has one event of note- that of the protagonists being thrown into prison cell. It all could have been done in 3-400 words without the reader feeling cheated of anything.

Repetitive and unnecessary descriptions done in huge walls of text make up another 700 or so words.

Pacing: 1.5/5

Remember what I said about the details? Yeah. The story follows a pattern of 1k to 3k word scenes that are incredibly detailed, but if were being shown as part of a movie would be over in less than two or three minutes. Lots of reading for almost nothing actually happening.

Characters: 4.5/5

This story shines here. The major characters are interesting and have a lot of depth to them. The writer clearly loves what he’s doing and is taking great care to do it well. The introductory duo have interesting nuances and quirks, and the mains respond to each other like ‘childhood friends’ should respond to each other.

Minor fault for villains being pretty standard and predictable. They’re treated more as obstacles to overcome than people with real motives.

Worldbuilding: 3.5/5

The world is, again, overly detailed. Especially for what is essentially a fairly straightforward and by the books Fantasy Urban story. (Used in that order on purpose . . . it’s a Fantasy World that’s evolved to a more or less modern culture rather than a modern world with fantasy elements included).

I get the feeling that the writer doesn’t believe readers can draw their own conclusions, and feels the need to make sure there’s no nook or cranny left unexplored before moving forward.

Final Conclusion: 2.5/5

But for one painful flaw, it would be a must read. If you can tolerate the huge walls of text (or do what I did at times and skim about 3/4ths of every chapter) it’s well worth the read for a gritty fantasy noir storyline with lots of interesting characters.

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WOLF, OWL, & BLACK APPLE

It does a good job of throwing you right into the world

By Oniwasabi, author of The Monster They Deserve

Oct 3, 2015: We enter this serial ‘in media res’ (thanks for teaching me that one, Order of the Stick! ^_^) aka in the middle of something. In this case that something is the whole ‘main characters have been kidnapped’ that is mentioned in the descriptive blurb for the story!

In my opinion (and experience), this is a tricky way to start a brand new story with brand new characters, and I think this author pulls it off quite nicely. We get immediately focused on the main characters and their predicament (and a bit on the antagonists as well, of course), and the world starts to be built in naturally occurring details that filter in as part of that attention-grabbing narrative instead of in the forum of infodumps or random exposition. There is one minor infodumps in the ‘Case 0’ section of chapters, and it was a little jarring, but the details given are relevant and to the local area of the setting that events are currently unfolding in, and it probably would have felt forced to try to exposition it in some other way, so I’ll chalk that one up as neutral and ‘a necessary evil.’ So good news so far, this is a story that hits the ground running and keeps moving at a fairly brisk clip, even as we transition from ‘kidnapping and life or death situations!’ to ‘slice of life and character development in a new town.’

Notable pros: The characters all feel well fleshed out. Enough contrast the it’s easy to tell the characters apart, and almost none of our protagonists have a super cliche/overdone/tropey feel to them. That one caveat is one of the characters mentioned in the description (Forseti) does feel a bit cliched in some of her interactions, but it also feels (at least to me) that this is meant to be an intentional character quirk (She is an ancient, immortal being of great power and knowledge after all. It makes sense that she would do the things she does to amuse herself to a certain level). Additionally, the writing was very clean, mechanically speaking.

Notable cons: It’s a bit early in the serial’s life for this one, but it’s something that did jump out at me right away. While the protagonists are decently varied and seem to be fully fleshed out characters, all of the antagonist characters (in the Case 0, the only place where we’ve MET any real antagonists so far) were practically stock cardboard-cutout bad guys. I don’t know if this was because they’re only real purpose was to get the story rolling and get the protagonists all introduced to each other (I really hope so) or if the writer is just not spending as much time on the villains as on the heroes (it would not be the first time I’ve seen it, especially in something like a detective show/serial/series where you go through a new bad guy for every show/book/arc/case, which is why I’m worried it might be the case).

The other notable con (that might be soon and swiftly remedied) is that the serial is currently on hiatus. Specifically it went on hiatus at the end of August with the stated intent to resume posting on September 30th. This review is being written on October 2nd, so far no updates. I will be happy to remove this portion of the review as soon as the story DOES start updating again, and I really really hope it does so! I’m not going to recommend it at present, though that will also likely change if the author resumes things.

In short: It’s a good story, it hits the ground running, the protagonists are interesting, watch out for the possibility of stock badguys being used!

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