butting in here with my first book review in a long time. Some of you may know the Anathema web serial written by chrysalis/Olivia Rising. She’s recently put out her first ebook version of the early arcs, I’ve read it, and now I’m here to review it.
Good cape fantasies are almost as hard to come by as they are to write; few genres are as bogged down by preconceptions, worn-out plots and overused tropes as this particular subset of fantasy. I would even argue that cape fantasies have it worse than high fantasy stories, due to the overabundant output of comic book companies and the demands of the mass market. So it’s rare that I can actualyl recommend one to people.
Anathema is very much a web serial that owes its existence to Worm (not unlike… well, Brennus), a fact of which Ms Rising makes no secret. This is perhaps one of its two true weaknesses, that it sometimes tries too much to be Worm instead of being its own thing; though I suppose to most readers, that would not be a problem.
Its greatest strength are its main characters, all three of which are well worked out, engaging and likable. I particularly enjoy Mascot’s story and am looking forward to reading more of her. Ms Rising resists the lure of standard power sets and gives each character their own twists, which greatly helps with the story feeling different from the usual cape fantasy fare, as well as making the characters more relatable as they deal with their strange new abilities (we’ve seen flying bricks and the like so often, it’s hard to portray that confusion and what-the-heck-can-I-do challenge that comes with new powers for them).
Unfortunately, this brings me to the other big weakness of the book – its three main characters. Or rather, their three plots.
Yes, three, because they are separate. The serial nature of the novel really shines through here, as it basically combines the extended prologue of the story into a book; great writing, yes. Interesting plot hooks, yes. Very engaging characters, oh hell yes. But no payoff yet.
Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a crippling flaw or anything – but it’s something to know about, for readers, so you won’t be disappointed. This is a very good introduction to the series – whether you want to read the free blog or wait on the next book, this one will serve as the stepping stone into either. But it is very much not a complete story, so don’t go in expecting it to wrap up the plots it lays out.
Nevertheless, I can heartily recommend the book, and the serial both. Give them a try, and do support a fellow author if you like it at all. You can find it on Amazon by following this link.
I give it four out of five stars, personally.
Six out of five for the Unbreakable reference 😉