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September 13th, 3:42PM

Vacancy by A.K. Caggiano

"Fun read that leaves you wanting more"

Rating: 10 / 10

This is a fun and enthralling take on urban fantasy themes. The characters are well developed and not clichéd archetypes, the plot is engaging, and the writer balances the fun aspects of the story with some more serious sections, as well as some mystery. The plot flows very well, and I could see this being made into a captivating TV show.

My only wish is that the sections were longer, because I am always disappointed when I finish an episode and have to wait a week to find out what happens next. I would highly recommend this serial to anyone, but especially those who enjoy fantasy stories.

June 21st, 11:04AM

Music Masters by Hejin57

"Music is Alive and Well"

Rating: 9 / 10

Music Masters is definitely a story that should be read and remembered. Though it starts off slow-paced, everything gets into the swing of things soon enough.

The main cast is a lively group for sure, though they do fit a few archetypes that could be seen as overdone. I can overlook this mainly because everyone acts pretty human and in character at all times. The supporting cast is rather interesting as well, with most of them acting as their own functioning being who pop into the story for organic reasons.

Battles are some of the most interesting and intense I've read in years, with the abilities being used having their own unique style that really distinguishes them from each other. And the way that characters use them, Michael especially, are wonderfully engaging and ingenious. This combined with the fact that Michael's way of combat is often dancing around his opponent and none of the fights can truly be considered a bore.

Speaking of the powers, one of the biggest pulls for the story is the music offered and how it is used both in the story and out of it. I've actually found quite a few of my new favorites thanks to this story and I'm pretty sure others can as well. I really do recommend reading this on the books personal site for the best experience.

Grammar is great with little to no mistakes ever being seen, and the words used by both the author and characters really help to set the perfect tone for the story.

The story is broken up into tracks and each track tends to add to the overarching story, but make for some great self-contained ones as well.

Music Masters is a great and joyful read that not only music fans can enjoy. So check it out.

April 29th, 7:08PM

Into the Mire by Casey Lucas aka Canticle

"Professional Quality for Free"

Rating: 9 / 10

This web serial has some of the greatest quality I've seen in novels period. From a technical perspective, grammar is perfect and writing is more than competent. From a story perspective, characters are rather interesting and the Mc definitely feels worth following, the world is developed expertly with no heavy chinks of exposition or the sort, and the world itself is rather fascinating. The only thing holding back a higher review is this serial's incompleteness, so I don't know if this quality will be maintained. With that said, if what we have so far is any indication, this is a definitely something you don't want to miss.

September 6th 2017

A Stitch in Rhyme by Laren Crawford

"A surprisingly unique presentation of fantasy"

Rating: 9 / 10

This fantasy novel is about two teens living in the town of Dinod-on-Neidr studying “arach manu”, the art of magical crochet. The story begins with the hero, Dilys, in the gaol for a crime he did not commit after being betrayed by Aeronwy, the girl he hoped would become more than a friend. Eventually we discover that everyone living in this land must speak in rhyme by royal decree and pity the poor person who cannot!

The author combines fantasy, rhyme, crochet, and photography to tell his tale in a setting that has an old-time, other-worldly feel. In a word – it is unique – you won’t find anything like it on the internet. The site itself can only be described as a work of art. Photographs illustrate the story with originally designed crocheted figures and fantastical creatures placed in sets the author creates himself.

At first, I was surprised to see that the novel is written in rhyme. But I soon came to believe that the use of verse gives the tale a beauty and flow that perhaps would not be present without it. So, while some might say the poetic form is its greatest challenge, others might say it is its greatest strength.

Be sure to click on the buttons at the top of the screen. The ‘people’ button particularly provides important background information about the characters.

In my opinion, this novel may not be for everyone. But for the right person – one who can fully appreciate the entirety of this work – it will be enchanting.

August 27th 2017

The Aliud, part 1: The New Thunder by Mutalias

"A robust, exciting story in an incredibly lush original setting."

Rating: 9 / 10

This is wonderful fiction. The story centers around two characters, long-separated siblings together on a mission from the king of an embattled kingdom. As adults, a reader can readily see that Iri and Auri are very different people who remain united both in history and purpose. Their journey is playing out against the backdrop of a detailed setting that's introduced throughout at a considered pace that doesn't drag down the action but definitely gives the reader a deeply-textured sense of place.

Both characters have strong, well-defined personalities, and the author does not fall into the trap of creating stilted fantasy dialects, but rather defines the character voices through incredibly natural dialog that make them both approachable, but in different ways.

Throughout, the author moves between events of the present (centered around the perspective of the brother as an adult) and events of the past (centered around the perspective of the sister during chapters of her younger life). Often, I find that 'flashback' scenes tend to rob a narrative arc of urgency, or lack driving stakes since you know that, whatever happened, it must have worked out. However, in The Aliud, this dynamic works well as a dual-narrative that maintains a compelling plot in both timelines. It's reasonably well-timed post-for-post, as well, introducing detail chapter to chapter that keeps both stories relevant to one another rather than wandering through events that seem unrelated with the hope that there will be an unseen payoff at the end of the tunnel.

The chapters are a healthy length. This isn't a weekly bite of microfiction to flit through on your elevator-ride up to your office, but is well worth setting aside time with your Monday-morning coffee to join the adventure with these characters in this immersive world. It feels big, and it feels incredibly deliberate, like nothing is dropped in accidentally or incidentally. I look forward to the new chapter each week!

December 17th 2016

The Clockwork Raven by Samuel Chapman

"Strong fantasy in a unique and well-developed world."

Rating: 8 / 10

It might be a little early for a full review of The Clockwork Raven--as of my writing this, five chapters are up, and while the titular raven has been alluded to, it hasn't actually appeared.

With that said, things so far are looking really solid. The author does a great job of balancing the two main characters, and making them both distinct, but equally important. The story also does a great job of finding tension and excitement in small moments. The author does a great job balancing big problems with short-term tensions.

The story's website lists The Martian as an influence, and that's definitely apparent. From the get go, the author, the characters, and the readers are all acutely aware of the hard facts of this world. How much water to the characters have? How much rope? How much fabric or leather? It's a welcome change of pace--in a genre full of questions like "Since when can you do that?" and "Why don't you just shoot Voldemort?", The Clockwork Raven does a lot of legwork to stay aware of the exactly what its characters are capable of at any given moment.

The first few chapters also drop a lot of breadcrumbs for the future--you'll come away with a lot of questions about the broader world of the story, and I'm excited to see how things develop.

So far, I don't have a ton of issues with the story, though there are a few. While the world is really interesting, there are moments where things aren't explained super well to the audience. Fore example, there's a scene in the first installment involving a pulley-based transport system that I had to read over once or twice before I really got what was happening. Each subsequent post seems to handle that better, but it's still an issue here and there.

Overall, I'd definitely recommend it. It's a strong story with well-developed characters and and interesting plot. It's done a great job of laying groundwork for the long game while keeping things interesting in the here and now. A fun read, even if--like me--you aren't normally a fan of fantasy.

December 16th 2016

Capes and Cowls by TestProsePleaseIgnor, MyWitsBeginToTurn, Poiyurt, love_the_pain_away

"Thought superheroes were played out? Guess again."

Rating: 8 / 10

Capes and Cowls, a new shared-universe serial written by four redditors, offers not just one but four fresh takes on the superhero genre. The only reason I didn't rate it even higher is that it's only just started; if it continues to be this impressive, it could easily make 10 in my mind.

Each author is updating the tale of a different character. Johnny Quantum is functionally omnipotent, but he'd rather fight crime than be a god--the circumstances around his creation are far sketchier than he himself is. I'm intrigued by his true motivations and in how the characters around him, including beleaguered Rimsha, will react to the curveballs he throws.

Keegan, an oral hygienist, inadvertently becomes the go-to dentist for non-superpowered vigilantes to get discreet patch-ups after fights. His is my favorite so far, possibly because "dentists in over their heads" is a favorite bizarrely specific subgenre of mine, and I loved the teaser that came with the end of his first chapter. I can't wait to see how he gets pulled in to this universe.

Damocles offers the army his services as a hero hunter, but his motives are inscrutable in a very different way from Johnny Quantum's. I expect what he really wants to become a major plot point. Finally, Winston Luxard, an "old guard" vigilante grown old, decides to re-enter the game as a teacher. Like a star player becoming coach, except instead of sports, everybody's fighting for their lives. Winston is a fantastically likeable character with an interesting commentary to make on what awaits folks like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark when they grow old.

Overall, Capes and Cowls is well worth your time, a universe with dedicated authors and an abundance of imagination. It's got amazing potential, so be sure to start early before all your friends start begging you to archive binge!

September 29th 2016

The Smell Collector by David Hill Burns

"An unexpected pleasure"

Rating: 9 / 10

The Smell Collector is the story of a man who lives in lives in nearly a constant state of nostalgia. He uses smells as a sort of time machine to relive the good times of his life. But the problem is that he's no longer living any kind of life at all. He spends his time roaming the city to visit his smell collection or in his mother's basement working in a laboratory to synthesize smells he has carefully documented. Enter Marie, another lonely heart. And this is where it gets a little creepy. He begins stalking her, in a manner, for her scent which he finds intoxicating.

I imagine that many people put the book down once then realize that Jim is a stalker, but I continued because I was curious enough. I'm very glad that I did. The Smell Collector is an unusual love story (without saying too much about it).

It's written a little oddly. It's a collection of narratives both first person and 3rd person, journal entries, smell profiles (how he documents his collection), and diary entries...oh and one Christmas card I suppose you could call it an epistolary novella. What I did not expect is that although it seems to be a quirky comedy, it packs a few emotional punches. I even cried, which I rarely do while reading.

The story is very basic, but the character development and themes are sophisticated enough to make it special.

This is a quick read. I read it over the course of two evenings, so you have little to lose, and I think it is well worth the time.

September 27th 2016

Worm by Wildbow

"Not your average super hero story"

Rating: 8 / 10

From the start, Worm is not your typical super hero story.

The main protagonist, is a socially awkward teenage girl living with her single father.

The first villain we meet is out to kill children and the hero that stops him doesn't initially seem to be much nicer.

Watch as Taylor learns and grows, struggling with her desire to be a hero and the world's perception of her as a villain, all while keeping the whole shebang a secret from her friends and family.

Worm spans almost 1,700,000 words and is a true joy to read. It's a fresh take on the majority of the standard fare you've come to expect out of the superhero genre.

April 22nd 2016

The Cow and The Moon: Illustrated by A.C Louis

"Fun read"

Rating: 8 / 10

This is a great read if you are looking for something light-hearted and funny. Written from the perspective of the animal kingdom, this will keep you wondering where the author gets these great ideas. The serial starts in the barnyard and introduces you to a fun world right away. I have read the first chapter so far and intend to read the entire serial. This is one that I can read with my kids and introduce them to the world of web serials. You need something to take your mind off the real world and make you laugh? kick back and relax, this web serial is for you!

May 26th 2015

Ethereal Temptation by Melvin B. Benson V

"A promising story"

Rating: 8 / 10

As an on-going story, it is too soon to give any higher rating, but this is definitely a promising story. A good narrative and pace-keeping make it an entertaining read while its fantastical elements blended into an everyday, modern setting help in calmly introducing them to the reader. The one warning that must be issued is that it presents a sort of episodic style (so far); though it seems the story of the main characters has a certain progression, all other characters only seem to have an important impact within their own chapter. Despite that last point, it is overall a story I recommend and certainly expect to see more of in the near future.

March 11th 2015

Pact by Wildbow

"A Magical Experience"

Rating: 9 / 10

Pact is Wildbow's second serial, and is an urban fantasy novel. I love fantasy, myself, and so I enjoyed Pact even more than the writer's first serial, Worm. Pact is the story of Blake Thorburn, a young man who is made the caretaker of a house that was owned by a diabolist. And the diabolist was his grandmother. Needless to say, hilarity ensues. Setting: The setting of Pact is truly a work of art. It contains fascinating magic, a well developed invented town (Jacob's Bell), and history that is an integral part of the story. Prose Quality: Wildbow has greatly improved his prose since the start of Worm. The sentence structures are varied enough to keep the reader interested without being unclear, and they also help communicate the mood and tone of the story. One minor complaint about the prose: toward the end of the serial, the author starts italicizing words for emphasis up to 80 times in one update (16.10, I counted). Plot: There are things that are truly wonderful about the plot. Foreshadowing is everywhere, twists are difficult to predict but make sense, and there is far more to conflict than hack-n-slash. But there are parts in the first half of the story that drag on for a ridiculous amount of time. Character Development: This is where the story is most likely to fall flat with readers. Very few characters are given any character development until the second half of the serial. So many characters are introduced but minimally characterized that the reader likely won't remember who they are. In conclusion: The first half of the serial has significant problems, but the second half is pure gold. Do yourself a favor and check Wildbow's writings out. If you fear large archives, the author also started a new serial:

March 7th 2015

Murder on Anonomy, a Blovella by Anonomy the Blovelist

"Immensely Disturbing"

Rating: 5 / 10

I really don't know what to think about this. I went in thinking I was going to get a fun parody adventure, but I got an immensely disturbing (social) media commentary. For those who want a story, don't read this, that isn't what it is. For those who want a picture of how disturbed 'writing communities' on the Internet are, read it. I'm not sure there is a more accurate depiction of what's wrong with 'writing communities' on the Internet. The story, as far as I can tell, is a fictionalization of what goes on at Authonomy, a 'writing community' run by HarperCollins where the most read story gets a review from a HarperCollins editor. Naturally, this creates a ridiculous amount of unethical behavior from the members of the site who want to get their story reviewed (and possibly published) by the editor. Authonomy is far from the only 'writing community' that has these issues. Figment, a website owned by Random House, regularly runs contests where authors try to promote their work the most to win. Figment might actually be worse, as I know they allow minors to participate in contests and sometimes have errors in their official rules for contests. The largest problems with these 'writing communities' is that they are about forcing writers to compete for arbitrary prizes by self-promotion without any reference to the quality of the writing or reader response to the writing. Writing isn't about trading likes on social media. Writing is about the reader, first and foremost. Muse's Success (and Web Fiction Guide, among others) can foster new writers not because it offers them prizes for how popular they are, but because it is a website geared toward readers. And writers need readers who genuinely care about their work. Tips for spotting predatory 'writer communities' If it isn't aimed mostly at readers, don't use it. If it makes writers compete for prizes based on any sort of popularity measurement, don't use it. If the website tries to make money off you, don't use it. If the website claims ANY rights to the work other than a non-exclusive right to display it, don't use it. Some big websites and how predatory they are: Authonomy - Predatory Figment - Predatory Wattpad - While Wattpad does have a few contests with some popularity based factors, they're very geared toward readers. Since the site has millions of readers, its less likely to be affected by the unethical behaviours depicted in the story. Fictionpress/ - Not predatory. They don't have contests and are aimed primarily at readers. Web Fiction Guide - Not predatory. Totally cool. Muse's Sucess - Not predatory. Totally cool. I do want to thank the writer of the novella. It is very important to make sure writers don't get exploited.

March 7th 2015

Worm by Wildbow


Rating: 9 / 10

Worm is becoming a classic of the prose grimdark superhero genre. That's not that large a category (though it contains other great fiction like the Reckoners trilogy), but the size of the category does not diminish Worm's accomplishment. Let's go through some of the reasons Worm is a classic in the making, shall we? Structural Innovations: As far as I can tell, Worm originated the Arc/Interlude format for web serials. If that doesn't make it a classic, what does? Setting: The setting has incredible depth. Many of the normal superhero tropes are carefully justified within the setting, and the powers themselves are well thought out and varied. Prose Quality: The writing has very good spelling and grammar. It is also just engaging o read on a sentence by sentence basis. One nitpick: the author sometimes overuses certain words that are rare in real life. Plot: The plot constantly escalates in danger in scope. If you like stories that become epic, Worm is one to go for. However, some parts drag out the action to the point where it can be hard to push through. Character Development: Character development in the Interludes is fantastic. Sadly, it doesn't always translate to the main story. If you are at all interested in superhero fiction, you've probably checked Worm out already. If you haven't, you will.

March 7th 2015

The Kingdoms of Evil by Daniel M. Bensen

"Really Good Evil"

Rating: 6 / 10

The Kingdoms of Evil was the first web serial I remember reading, and it was good enough for me to want to read other web serials. That being said, it has its flaws as well as its glorious moments. The humor in Kingdoms of Evil is hilarious if you like epic fantasy, otherwise it may fall flat. But the greatest obstacle to the readers enjoyment is the prologue, which has negligible relevance to the story. I would recommend just skipping it. Onto the main parts of fiction. Character Development: The author does a wonderful job with Freetrick and with Bloodbyrn. Their relationship and character arcs are fascinating. Bloodbyrns father and Mr. Scree are well developed as well. The character development in this completed serial is extremely strong for some characters, and negligible for other characters. I found myself skipping sections that weren't from Freetrick's point of view because the other viewpoint characters weren't well developed. Setting: The Kingdoms of Evil are as fascinating as they are dysfunctional. And they are very dysfunctional. Plot: The plots the different viewpoint characters are involved in don't interact much. Prose Quality: Spelling and grammar are okay. They're not an impediment to reading the serial. Sadly, the sentences don't often flow together well. In summary: Freetrick's point of view sections make the serial worth trying, despite other flaws in the work.

March 7th 2015

The Zombie Knight by George M. Frost

"A Slow Spiral"

Rating: 7 / 10

Zombie Knight may start small, but don't let that fool you. It begins with Hector, a boy who committed suicide, being resurrected to help a grim reaper (who is actually pretty funny) save people from dying. Setting: The setting balloons in size, but it does it slowly enough that the reader isn't startled out of the story. The author makes it seem like the world is similar to our own at first to build familiarity, but the world is actually quite different and fascinating in its own right. Character Development: The author does a very good job developing the main characters' relationship, which is loads of fun to read. There are only a few side characters that get developed, though. Plot: The plot is a superhero story plot. Hector gains powers and uses them to protect the innocents and stop the bad guys. Quality of Prose: Grammar and spelling are generally quite good. The sentences are not always structured for easy comprehension, but the quality of the prose is not detrimental to the story.

March 7th 2015

The Zombie Knight by George M. Frost

"A Slow Spiral"

Rating: 7 / 10

Zombie Knight may start small, but don't let that fool you. It begins with Hector, a boy who committed suicide, being resurrected to help a grim reaper (who is actually pretty funny) save people from dying. Setting: The setting balloons in size, but it does it slowly enough that the reader isn't startled out of the story. The author makes it seem like the world is similar to our own at first to build familiarity, but the world is actually quite different and fascinating in its own right. Character Development: The author does a very good job developing the main characters' relationship, which is loads of fun to read. There are only a few side characters that get developed, though. Plot: The plot is a superhero story plot. Hector gains powers and uses them to protect the innocents and stop the bad guys. Quality of Prose: Grammar and spelling are generally quite good. The sentences are not always structured for easy comprehension, but the quality of the prose is not detrimental to the story.

March 5th 2015

Aconitum by M. Howalt

"Contagious Story..."

Rating: 8 / 10

Killing werewolves is well and good, but what happens when you start thinking of the lives behind the monster? What happens when you start saving people from their curse rather than damning them?

These are some of the questions that Aconitum tackles in a story that winds through the somber mind of Hector Rothenburg. A wandering plot follows behind this man’s actions in a world where werewolves aren’t just real, they’re an existence everyone knows of and fears. Fortunately, entire organizations of werewolf hunters have risen to face the challenge.

With a gradual build of its characters, its settings in an alternate universe Germany, and far reaching mystery that leaves the reader wanting the next page to know more, Aconitum becomes an infectious bite of questions and explorations of humanity.

March 5th 2015

Rat Nothing by Evan Marcroft

"A Vicious City..."

Rating: 8 / 10

Sabot is a living breathing monster born from a thousand words mashed into context and lexical clues. Fictional names for fictional things have a fitting pattern to them of type of person or kind of creature that provides understanding while being completely new and vibrant. Then enter Rat, a vicious byproduct of a city where everything is a turf war and nothing lives uncorrupted. She occupies the space of life that isn’t living, its survival. Only the streets truly know her ache and beaten soul, but stone is a silent and unmoved witness to terrors.

This is Rat Nothing, a complex mythical world where the author doesn’t pull any punches in both creating his own mythos and wringing the characters through madness. It takes some time to get down with the lingo, but once it sinks in the world really begins to breathe. Then you get to know a varied cast of four misfits in a city that doesn't have a place to fit. Come to know the broken brat, the conflicted psychic officer, a heartbroken songweaver, and a psychopath politician. Follow them as they wind their way into a drain of conflict, misery, and terror.

October 25th 2014

Jumping Rings by Lyn Thorne-Alder

"Starting to Climb"

Rating: 7 / 10

Jumping Rings is a little hard to describe. The title comes from the setting. A very class heavy, almost caste-like, fantasy world. A city is divided into 10 "rings" with the innermost being the wealthiest and the outer most being the poorest. There are a few terms that are hard to follow at first. Most of these deal with gender, (male female or neutral) but it's not completely clear whether that's down to a physical difference or a difference in identity.

Everyone has to earn their final ring/status, it seems even the children of the most influential are not guaranteed a life in the first ring. Though they do seem to get a few advantages. Those without advantages can follow other paths. The story's protagonists, Valran and Taslin, enter into a form of voluntary slavery.

One will be used in gladiator style pit fights while the other is a body servant. It's pretty clear that both are ambitious and determined. The servant slave is utterly unsurprised when the first questions asked during his auction concern the sexual acts he's capable of performing without showing his revulsion. The gladiator has to balance her need to put on a good show with the knowledge that too much showboating could get her killed in the ring.

It strikes an interesting balance but the story isn't quite perfect. As I mentioned, some of the terminology is a little confusing. That's not a big deal, pretty much par for the course in any original fantasy setting. The gladiator's story line doesn't feel quite right. She picks up the relevant skills a little too fast and I didn't get the same feeling of physical danger with her as I did with the body servant.

Some of the current 'off' notes could easily be resolved by future revelations. It's too early to get the full scope but there are clear and obvious indicators of intrigue in both storylines. It wouldn't be shocking to learn that either is a plant of some sort, maybe a ringer.

If the intrigue pays off as well as I hope it does, this story could be very engaging. With that in mind, if you aren't bothered by a story that treats people as commodities or human life as disposable, this is well worth a look.