Macabre Marmalade - written by @Snirion aka Lewis I.G. Walter
For many, myself included, elves and magic is something that they find irresistibly intriguing. So you can imagine my excitement when I was tasked with reading the “Science Fantasy” story from @Snirion. So can Macabre Marmalade live up to my expectations. My opinion is mixed.
But before I begin I would like to point out that this review is only of the first 4 chapters that were available at the time and may not be an accurate depiction or review of the finished product. And these are my personal opinions, all of which I am entitled to.
So without further ado, let’s dig in.
The story is set three hundred years after the Knitting of the Realms, a mysterious event that brought about the return of magic as well as creatures like elves and alike. The protagonist is a human (or an Apeling, as the elves call them) named Todor Corpus. Todor is a co-owner of a video game studio as well as a college graduate who specialises in history. One Friday night, Todor was driving home from work, excited about a weekend at home playing his favourite video game. He notices something is wrong and before long Todor’s world is into a merged with that of Orcs and Elves. But unlike the majority of humanity, Todor is teleported 293 years into the future of this merged world.
All of this is told to us as Todor reminiscences about the events that took place seven years ago. So in the space of a few paragraphs we have traveled 300 years into the future, into a mixed up world with Elves (Anadori), Orcs (Morgs) and magic. And this is where the majority of my complaints about the plot lie.
We are not given any time to see Todor in his normal life, at his job, or with his neighbour and her cat or his dependency and obsession on the Internet or his relationship with his estranged family.
Nor are we given any time to grieve with him as his entire world is destroyed. We don’t get to see his initial reactions to the colossal mess the world has become after merging with two other worlds. It is mentioned in passing that his family and friends and everyone he loved, along with 98% of humanity was transitioned into this world on the day of the Knitting, 300 years ago and are long since dead. And instead of seeing him deal with this or even discover this, we are shoved 7 years into the future after he has dealt with all and has moved on. But I digress.
So after 7 years in this merged world, Todor apparently only really misses one thing about the old world. The Internet. So it has become his Onodori (life’s purpose/motivation) to restore the internet. (More on this later.) But unfortunately we don’t really see him do anything about it. Rather it is just told to us that he can’t do it alone, so now he isn’t really doing anything about it. Instead he goes about his monotonous life in this merged world.
But this is where one of this story’s strongest aspects can be found. The world. By bringing elements of Orcs, Elves and Magic into present day, the author has created a unique and intriguing world(as far as I have ever read or seen). It left me wanting so much more and I wished so much that we could delve deeper into it.
However I do wish that this exposition was handled better. I understand that the author may be trying keep some mystery, but surely in the seven years that Todor has spent in this world, he would have learnt some of this lore himself without everyone he meets telling him some vague details about the past.
Maybe it is because I just want more information about this unique world and situation that has bee crafted. And wanting more, can’t be a bad thing (unless it is my weakness, cookies).
I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot, so I won’t go into to much more detail, but suffice it to say, part four was a highpoint for me. This is where I felt the plot really moving. Part 4 is when I felt the story really kick into gear for me. I think I can see where we are going and I like it. Plot wise, this is high point, so far.
6/10 - Some early low points stop me from rating this higher, but Part 4 alone is worth a higher rating alone.
My initial thoughts of the protagonist, Todor, are also mixed. I like the name. Todor Corpus. The name, much like the world that has been crafted, is unique. But other than that, I feel like this character is more of a prop than a credible person. My biggest problem with this character is his initial motivation, his obsession with restoring the internet. I find unbelievable, especially when, in the story, 98% of humanity has lived in a world without it, fine for 300 years. It just feels like a distinctly first-world problem in an almost post apocalyptic, war torn environment.
His dialogue for the most part is fine, and I do like the brief glimpses we get into his psyche, but they are just that, brief.
He seems to spend the majority of these chapters moping about, either angry with something at work or the lack of internet. And I found this difficult to like. However in Part 4, I saw the possibility of a new motivation, one that I find much more believable. I hope that this story thread is picked up in the future.
The stronger characters are the two supporting characters, Irrindonila/Irry and Malabahtorh/Mab.
I found Irry cute and charming. The way she acted felt like a person would. There was also a description of what she looked like for me to imagine. (Four chapters and there is no description of the main character. No discernable features are mentioned. In my mind I imagine he either looks like a Ken doll or The Question. (Super nerdy, I know))
The same goes for Mab. He is quirky. Quirky is interesting and, I feel more strongly about his motivation, than I do for Todor’s quest to restore the internet. I also love the way he talks. Paired with the image I have of him in mind, that of a short seven year old, his dialogue is quite funny. It make me feel like he has a real voice, that he is a real person.
3/10 - Although the supporting characters are good, we will be spending the majority of our time the main character. I hope some of the elements laid out in Part 4 come to fruition, as this would result in more character development and thus strengthen this element of the story.
The Author’s Style
Initially I had a hard time understanding what was happening, but after I made it through these first few parts, I found that just like the other aspects of this novel I have mentioned, I get significantly better in part 4. The story is written in 3rd person and in past tense. There are a number of grammatical errors, some of which are a result of several re-edits but overall, I could read and understand the story being told.
Additionally, in parts 3 and 4, @Snirion has created some truly beautiful passages of description, all of which I will not share, because you know, spoilers. You’ll just have to take my word and read it yourself.
I feel I must once again note that this story is very much still a work in progress, in both the fact that the story is yet to be complete and that these earlier chapters are also still being edited.
Author’s Style score:
6/10 - There is definitely room here for some easy improvement. After fixing some minor grammatical errors and some of earlier parts, I would be happy to rate this as high as a 8. But as it stands it is a 6.
The Tone, Mood and Theme
Firstly I want to start with Mood, or atmosphere. For the earlier parts of this story, all I felt was frustrated. I didn’t know how else to feel. The protagonist goes from groaning and moaning about one thing to another. Jam, his job to the lack of internet. Maybe this what the author is going for, I am not sure. But I was glad when this changed as we got closer to part 4. The author created an emotional response in me, the audience. I was intrigued then tense and concerned. I feel like these were the responses we author’s look for, not necessarily frustration.
As for theme, it is probably to early for me to tell, unless it is really just the internet is great. Which I really hope it isn’t. So this aspect will not be assessed.
The tone was interesting. I felt the author loves two things, fantasy and the internet. And that they hate mundane work. This was expressed well and had an effect on my mood.
Theme, Mood and Tone score:
7/10 - There was nothing that elicited a strong emotional response in me, especially early on, but that was largely due to the fact that there was no emotionally driven scenes in these chapters. But at the same time it did garner an emotional response, however small, throughout.
- Did I like the story?
- Despite its flaws, and yes there are some, just like any other story, I did like the story.
- What was my favorite part of the story?
- Ezezu Kiag. I won’t say any more because I don’t want to spoil it. You’ll just have to read it yourself!
- Do I have a least favorite part of the story?
- Yes. The introduction. I just found it clunky and a tad difficult to comprehend on the first read through.
- If I could change something, what would it be?
- The introduction. Personally, I would probably write a prologue, showing Todor’s normal life and end it with the Knitting of the Realms. I might even remove that second time jump of seven years, but if handled correctly I see no need.
- Would I recommend this story to another person?
- What type of person would like this story?
- Anyone who loves fantasy and the possibility of rich world building.
Overall Enjoyment score:
7/10 - If you can get past the first few parts, I think it will be worth the pay off.
29/50 - Patchy, but not entirely without merit.