- File Size: 287 KB
- Print Length: 107 pages
- Page Numbers Source ISBN: 1517237734
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publisher: Creativia; 2 edition (September 5, 2015)
- Publication Date: September 5, 2015
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B01505GW5Q
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Lending: Enabled
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,810,735 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Obsidian Alcatraz: An Evalyce Arcanepunk Novella Kindle Edition
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Cadi is a magister, doing police work on the floating city of Port Jericho, the only misfit city without a patron god and rampant with crime. She's a misfit herself, a guardianless magi. Working one crime, she comes across an object that calls to her, and eventually she releases its occupant - Loki - who takes on the role of her guardian.
But all is not well in the city when an archeological dig releases an ancient deadly threat. He begins stalking the city, taking prey, and no one's quite sure how to stop him.
There is so much to love about this book. There's a rich alternate world, magic, mystery, and the promise of romance. I was intrigued from the outset, the first couple of chapters setting everything up nicely, but then the story kind of fell apart for me.
We begin by establishing Cadi and Loki's link - totally awesome. The "bird man" is intriguing, and I was immediately drawn to him. But then he disappears. He goes off and does his own thing for most of the book, only showing up when he's needed or called. I would have loved to see him more integral to the story.
Then there's Cadi's partner. We hear a lot of growling from him (he's wolf? but according to the end of the book, he has a face of a man. I couldn't quite draw a picture of him in my mind), but he's kind of forgettable, having little impact on the story, which in light of the end revelations was kind of disappointing.
Cadi, herself is an interesting enough character, but I didn't feel any emotional connection with her. She seems to have three guys interested in her, but is consumed with the police stuff. She kisses two of them, one kind of out of the blue, but any real connection only seems to happen with one, and he's the wrong one... (Though so much more interesting than the one she does end up with.) In the end, she seemed to base her choice on romantic interest more out of pity and a need for stability than out of any romantic reciprocation.
The initial crime is never resolved, and we barrel into the ancient threat. Who, though powerful and disrupting, is not nearly as destructive as I imagine an ancient beast finally let loose might be. He carefully picks off his victims, one by one... Creepy, and possible to overlook, but it stood out in my mind as odd.
And then there are the info dumps. It seems that every time we hit something unfamiliar, we got an aside about what/who they were and how they fit into the city. I understand - creating a whole world in the span of a novella can be difficult, but it felt a bit rushed and I found it distracting. The beginning of the final chapter was the most pronounced instance, where we gloss over weeks of happenings and how it affected the city and characters in the span of a few pages. I would have liked to see the information woven more seamlessly with the story, maybe add a scene or some action to introduce the elements mentioned.
And then there was the rather overt rant about one god versus many which seemed a bit preachy to me. I don't mind that viewpoint, but there are more subtle ways to get it across.
Overall, it wasn't a bad story, but I didn't find myself satisfied with it, either. Which is unfortunate, because I really wanted to like it. The setup had my hopes high, which is perhaps why the ending fell flat for me.
But the author is certainly one to watch. Her prose was smooth, her world was deep and developed, and her characters were varied and intriguing.
This story is set in a “sky-city” which presumably floats above a more conventional world. The nature of the world below somewhat passed me by (if it was explored), but I’m going to take a punt and imagine this is a bit post-apocalyptic. Certainly there are direct references to the Earth which we know and love, so this is a future-scape of some sort. But I digress.
We follow Cadi, who is a Magister with a certain command over ‘magick’, and her primary job is solving crimes and generally keeping a rowdy population in check. There are then two key drivers in the book: the first is her acquisition of a guardian via rather unconventional methods, and the second is a somewhat larger and more conventional threat.
The pace of the book is pretty good, and the writing seemed solid. It was certainly a relatively easy read and flowed nicely. There is lots of richness in terms of the world that we’re reading within, and the author is not shy of delivering the details. Generally this is done in an unobtrusive way (with the possible exception of a mild info-dump at the beginning of the book), although it felt like there was more info than strictly required for the telling. I don’t mind this, but if you hang on every little detail in the book, it may become distracting.
The story is told primarily from the perspective of our heroine, Cadi, and she seems pretty likeable. She’s the sort of cop who is generally interested in the well-being of her population rather than being bothered with self-interest. She is a bit fortunate with the events that lead to her acquisition of a guardian (Loki), but who doesn’t need a bit of luck?
There are however a few snippets of the book which come from other perspectives. The aim of this appears to be to give the reader insight into things that were going on outside of Cadi. Although I can certainly sympathise with this, and enjoyed these breaks in Cadi’s consciousness, I do wonder whether more tension could have been built without these scenes. In short, we are being given information before Cadi gets it, which feels a bit at odds with a police thriller. Not being a big fan of crime books, I don’t know the conventions, but that is my suspicion nonetheless.
So overall, a well-written book with lots of detail, an interesting story-line, and likeable characters.
The only thing that perhaps left me a little confused (stress on the little) was the somewhat disjointed nature of the story. I mentioned before that there are two key story drivers. Well, one of these drivers creates the core sense of friction for the novel (I’ll let you guess which one), and this is good. But this actually gets resolved earlier than we might think, and for the “showdown”, a second danger enters the fray. It is not completely unforeseen, but it is something of a confusing surprise. It does then bring the other key story driver into much sharper focus, which is clearly good, but it did feel a bit separate. I’m just left wondering whether it would have been possible to bring the two threads into clearer parallel.
But let’s not dwell on that. This is definitely worth a read if you like sci-fi, magic, or crime books (so quite a wide audience). I also suspect the author has much more up her sleeve given the depth of the world, so that’s something to look out for.
While the fantastical world D'Merrickson introduces is intriguing, and the relationship between Cadi and Loki (a demi-diety) strong, the story seemed rushed and packed with too many details that caused the novella to lose focus. Perhaps this is the style of longer fantasy novels, but a shorter novella lacks the space for them. Despite this criticism, Obisidian Alcatraz will appeal to those who enjoy reading fantasy, mystery & adventure - as well as those who like a touch of romance.