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Not Quite The Revelation I Was Hoping For

By Rhodeworks, author of Not All Heroes

Aug 15, 2018: Because of a WFG issue with posting the review, I’ve had to cut this down to the bone.

IN SHORT: The Revelation, in many ways, feels like a take on the genre I should get behind. It has prophecies, possession, ancient horrors and a blurred line between real and unreal. But, for all of its interesting ideas, it just isn’t up to the task of exploring them in a way that grips one’s emotions or intellect.

IN LONG: The cat people are a strange inclusion that are explained just enough to provoke the part of my brain that wants to know how they work but not enough to make it satisfying.

Story is generally decent. There are some cliches here and there. The big problem is that the prose is lifeless and dry.

While there really aren’t any issues with spelling or grammar and it all feels technically proficient, the story lacks spark, zest or just the ability to illustrate how characters feel instead of flatly stating it. It’s very academic. For example, describing fear: "Her heart began to race. Her hands began to sweat. Her legs were shaking." It does not convey the ‘primal terror’.

Similarly, the academic descriptions seem to follow through into descriptions of landscapes, people, and, at one point early on, sharks. At one point, I felt like I was reading a Florida tour guide. Even insane visions of massive thrones and cities of bones just feel flat.

Like a lot of serials, I got the sense that the author was writing as if describing things as if it were a movie—obsessed with visuals over feelings. When Revelations describes something, be it a landscape or a painting or an apocalyptic vision, it’s as if describing a painting. It feels very robotic at points.

There’s some stuff in some of these chapters that should be just be inducing mind-bending terror, that comes very close to making me say ‘wow’, but it’s all just rendered so clinically and emotionlessly that it just falls flat.

Story switches too quickly between viewpoint characters and events start happening too rapidly to have an impact. Pacing is way off. The first three chapters are, honestly, a bit of a slog. Some chapters are extremely short and feel like half a scene.

This is unfortunate because the story has a nice presentation, has a good technical construction in the sense that it lacks obvious errors (I think I spotted exactly one), some good ideas, but the actual storytelling is incredibly uneven.

Worth a look because of it’s difference to most other serials but the 3 is a low 3. Despite the technical quality of the writing, it’s all just a bit lifeless and it brings the whole artifice down.

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Like a Text-based Cartoon

By Rhodeworks, author of Not All Heroes

Aug 15, 2018: Music Masters is an interesting little story with some experimental ideas revolving around the usage of new media to enhance storytelling. It has a bright energy and a simple concept: music gives superpowers. Some of it works, some of it doesn’t, but it does do quite well in a few particular ways. So, let’s dive in.

Music Masters—henceforth, MM—follows a young man named Michael Kay has he finds himself immersed in a world where music is a literal source of power. From there, things get rapidly more complex as he is drawn into a musical maelstrom of a world, meeting a wide cast of characters, getting into fights and hijinks and so on.

The big thing that I noticed about MM was its sense of tone. Music Masters nails the feel of one of those morning cartoons from the early 2000s. Part of this comes from the artwork but most of it comes from the bright, optimistic tone that Hejin57 is able to evoke. This story comes from the heart of someone who truly loves music and you can really feel it. The usage of musical links in the text is a nice touch but some might think it’s too much or too distracting. Either way, it’s there for a reason.

Michael Kay and the rest of the cast are all fairly archetypal. This makes them easily understood, of course, and helps that ‘cartoon feel.’ They tend to bounce off each other pretty well with their own views, perspectives, and goals. If there’s a problem with the characters, is that there’s a lot of them and, initially, it can be hard to remember who is who and how they relate to some of the other characters and the plots as they get introduced at a fairly rapid pace.

I wasn’t struck by any particularly glaring problems throughout MM, but there were a few issues that I noted. There’s some clunky sentencing throughout, generally an issue of phrasing or word choice. And that in and of itself is related to the more noticeable issue I had with MM, which is something called ‘unpacking.’

It’s something I picked up from Chuck Palahniuk. Essentially, it’s the use of words like thought/wondered and other ‘thinking’ verbs to short-cut describing that interior thought process, but I also like to see it as describing things too quickly. MM’s pacing can flow very quickly, and I think a lot of it is to how quickly some things fly by Michael and the others. Sometimes, it’s handled a bit too quickly. But there are also parts where the story would be better served by summing things up with a few sentences and moving on. The quick pace of the story makes it all the more obvious when it has stopped for exposition.

I think MM’s later chapters got better at this and I think a strength of MM is that it has a steady plateau of consistent quality that occasionally spikes higher.

The other issue I had with MM was the use of descriptive phrases instead of a character’s name. For example, the story likes to sum up Michael as ‘the afro-haired boy’. It’s the sort of thing that puts a distance between Michael and the reader, and I don’t think MM is the kind of work that benefits from that distance. We want to be in Michael’s dancing shoes, to feel the rhythm he feels (or any of the other viewpoint characters, for that matter).

All in all, it’s a nice, easy read with a wonderful sense of fun and energy. Give it a shot and you might just fall into the groove. Who knows, maybe you’ll be exposed to some new music along the way!

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Editor’s First Look – Action-Packed Fantasy

By Palladian, editor, author of Super

Aug 12, 2018: Terrestrial Magic follows Jordan as she and her scientific team try to document legendary animals that have begun to reappear in the world, outside of heavily protected human settlements. The author does a good job of setting her world’s information up without a lot of exposition, and sinks the reader right into some interesting action at the beginning.

The setting she uses, wilderness outside of Rome that’s peppered with ruins, is interesting in and of itself, and then we get to see some of the animals they’re there to see, and it becomes more interesting still. She also does a good job of introducing the characters on the team to us through watching their actions rather than using a lot of back-story.

The web layout is clean and conducive to reading, and the links to the next chapters are right under the last, which is what I look for in a story to keep the reading flowing down the page and onto the next one. The author also seems to have done a good job editing the story and has kept typos down to a minimum.

I’d recommend this story to anyone who likes fantasy, especially stories where creatures and things that were previously only in legends (like magic, etc.) come back into a modern world, and the complications that result.

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