Oh this one reads smoothly. I mean, it makes a pit drop in your stomach like it’s supposed to with the type of content it has in it, but the conversations between characters make sense. I get into some books and the conversations are author driven rather than character natural and then it doesn’t make sense. This one does. The character is relatable for those of us who have anxiety issues and are people pleasers.
I will say I did have a moment when the coffee shop happened and the gayvenger’s sequence with the LG and T where I suddenly had to go around in circles between the three main characters and try to rationalize who the T was. I was thinking Marcus was bi. And this is why some times, I get really lost on the uptake. This is my own fault, because there are most likely a bunch of hints explaining Marcus, but I missed them all and ended up having to back track and reread a couple times. Anyways – for ya’ll who are much more on the ball about recognizing people’s signals, this probably will be a complete non-issue. I tend to make my characters spell it out, only because I kind of need people to spell it out to me or I tend to just see a person as an androgynous asexual/aromantic npc until told otherwise. That’s my default setting for: introduce human, assign gender, assign preference, assign disposition. I know there is a big thing right now in people saying that others reading books will automatically characterize the MC as white and straight until told otherwise if the reader is white. I am white, and I’m pan/trans-FTM. Seems my go to is unknown heritage-ace.
The set up for the story does wonders for your anxiety. As in, it makes you anxious. Makes you anxious for the characters, and the situation, and definitely makes you go “they are going to get themselves into so freaking much trouble, I don’t want to be here” and yet like watching a train wreck, you can’t look away.
We do get into some heavy back and forth use of the words felt/heard/started into the river woman arc. This is a peculiarity of style to myself and I’m fully aware that not everyone is so preoccupied by the usage. It makes the story less immersive to me, like a passerby watching from outside the auditorium ring as a musician plays. Not the musician, and not the crowd, but someone watching both at once. I have to wonder if this was a stylistic choice by the author to set a time and a place.
The descriptions of Oscar’s panic – that sounds like what happens if I go into full overload. Jeez, I hate it. Also the splitting headache at the back of the brain and the black flashes – that’s bringing up me going “hey, ever thought of getting an MRI to check your ocipital lobe for a tumor or AVM?” I have a vague feeling that is going to be my fall back if anyone ever mentions that particular batch of symptoms.
Hmmm. Admittedly, the romance scene was being set up aesthetically well. However. I must say, Zara being left in need of a bathroom made the situation a bit…irritating to me? Also fade-to-black, but that specifically is a personal preference thing with me. The bathroom thing for a friend though wins top of the priority list over getting snogged by slightly ashamed nervous boy toy with a pheromone complex. Maybe I’m being judgy. I also have yet to find a specific quality within the MC to make the not-vampire moon-eyed over him yet by Chaper 15. Then again, I have most likely written this exact same type of set up where people will feel the emotional connect element to be worked out with more precision. I guess that is the difference between emotional romance and physical romance stories? Now I’m curious and might end up in some deep self-reflection for a while.
For the momentary deviation into frustration-relief territory (believe me, I get it, I tend to write those scenes first and then fill in the rest of the story, so no judgement, it just felt a bit disjointed in the priority list and then doing a fade to black on me, I’m not bitter, you can’t prove it) getting into the nature of the monsters and finally getting everyone on board is good. I can completely understand Zara’s character. Marcus I feel is fully fleshed out, but one of those types where I don’t want to be around them in the real world lest I end up falling through dark holes behind slightly less than human doctor’s houses.
I get Zara. I get Marcus. I’m still not sure, by chapter 18, of Dmitri or Oscar’s character. Panicked, apprehensive, anxious. Maybe that is what a character can be centered around. They don’t have to show the full range of emotions to be a complete character. It just seems the first time real decisions and actions by the MC were jumping not-vampire dude, otherwise, he’s being pulled along by an unseen current into the realm of monsters. Again, not a bad thing as a stylistic choice. Many anime and manga dealing in psych horror and yokai/ayakashi tend to have an MC who get’s dragged in kicking and scream who then has to navigate an entirely new world and has no freaking clue where to start, so they drift for a while before finding the ground beneath the waves and are able to propel themselves in a direction they choose. I’m fighting with one of those characters at the moment while writing Melancholic Harmony, so, again, I can’t judge, but more make an interesting observation as I dissect the story into it’s parts and figure out what the author is ultimately trying to say about not only the characters and setting, but themself.
*side note* Thank you for the graveyard/cemetery point out. I despise when that one is written wrong.
Also, for those who find written accents a bother, there is a character in here with a written accent and I am living for it. I love when people do this. It gives you some interesting stress and pronunciation and breaks up the monotony of forcing your brain to assign vocal ranges. I wish more people would write in accent. I really do.
Also, since reading The Graveyard Book by Gaiman, this is the second time I’ve ran into a reference in regard to a Graveyard and an Egyptian section. Is this a British thing? I’m thinking it is.
Hmmm…the interludes. Useful bits of side knowledge, a good way to bring in some breathing room. A bit of a shift in camera framing and scene cuts. Not a bad idea. Just a bit jarring to pull from one character to the other when the scene is about to get to a useful spot. Honestly, a bit irksome and hard not to just flip pages. I’m making myself not, but intel guy I could care less about. Also, referencing Marcus as the kid, and using his name in italics. It’s an interesting stylization to raise protective hackles and deeply wish the guy had gone over the wall and met the guardian. Alright, glad I stuck that chapter out. It dug into some emotions, and that’s what a chapter is supposed to do. You can hate disjointing a story all you want, but if the chapter achieves it’s goal of emotional development, it’s done it’s job for the story.
I should stop starting my paragraph addresses with sighed hmmms, but I’m back here again as I enter into Chapter 23. Just. Maybe that was the uncertain feeling I had when the storyline diverted into physical romance rather than development of emotional romance. That it would go into that kind of despondent category. I mean, the storyline itself calls for it. I just am not a personal fan of MCs and LIs entering into misunderstandings that can emotionally wound when they have no concept of lines and boundaryies. I’m more a – build the foundation and make them guard each other’s back – sort of person. Break them, shake them, melt them to the core, but in the end they have each other and the sky above their heads. This…this isn’t quite for me, the MC and the LI and what took place, but the timing and dialogue are correct for the situation. I will not say it is wrong or bad or poorly executed. I just have a different set of preferences. Let’s continue though, because the story is good.
Having the story set itself up the way it did, it makes for a good prologue into an emotional romance for a second book. But, maybe that’s what a happily ever after romance is supposed to do? Make you imagine the good that will come as the MC and LI take the time to really learn about each other.
It’s interesting, analyzing how other people write romance. Actually stepping back from my pre-conceived notion of what romance as a genre is from my almost two decades of reading the genre. This fits what I would call traditional publishing material, save for a couple aspects the traditional world needs to start incorporating very soon. Seriously. LGBTQ+ rep please and thank you. I loved the fact that action was decent front runner on the story line. Some romance books can focus a little too heavy on physical romance and not enough on either emotional romance or the action/adventure/scifi/etc genre that it is tagged into while still somehow escaping the label of erotica.
Decent rising action, well placed clues for the antagonists, enough info dropping to keep the overarching story relevant. Fade-to-black was spread out enough to get your gears started while leaving you space to fill in as you wanted. I think I’ve been too deep into my writing for a while to come up and check how most people are writing these types of stories now, so it felt foreign, but in hindsight, as I finish this, I must say, it is a good strong read. Especially if you like dark fairy tales and hot guys.
I am a writer and artist working through the Kavordian Library series. I write sci-fi, fantasy, lgbt romance.