Title: Wander West, in Shadow
Genre(s): Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Horror
Tags: High Fantasy, Magic, Male Lead, Progression, Strategy
Audience: – (contains Gore, Profanity, Sexual Content, Traumatizing content)
Main Lead: Male
AVB Assessment Score: PDE 2 CDD 3 SWB 3 || TQ 3 SV 3 || Overall: 14
Number of Chapters: 42
Chapter Length: Medium
Reading Level: High
Date of First Release: January 2, 2021
Date of Last Update: April 18, 2021
AVB Reviewed? No
Available on Platform(s): Royal Road
Number of Views: 10,767
Number of Reviews: 20
A young wizard journeys west, through dark forests and dangerous lands, searching for something. Accompanied by a wild witch who has secrets of her own, they come across terrible creatures, hauntings, cursed villages, and memories from their past. Who else will they meet along their journey, and to find what he is looking for, how far will the wizard have to wander west?
TwelveGreatApes: I am writing this at the end of the first act, although I certainly intend to read further.
The pacing is very good, with a looming sense of threat that slowly builds towards the culmination of the first act. The general atmosphere of the setting is a vivid blend of fantasy and horror, the details of which come to light in a steady and believable manner that is notable for being entirely unobtrusive. At no point was I lost for lack of context, nor was I ever consciously aware of my absorption of Wander West’s world. The background is consistent and makes sense in and of itself.
The prose is pleasantly well written -evocative and practically poetic at times. The world is populated by believable characters. The dialogue between them is rich and rarely stilted, and the interactions between them are consistent, coming from a place of understanding the characters, rather than plot necessity. The budding relationship between the two main characters is especially well done.
The first act is intriguing and well told, slowly introducing details that set the reader up for the larger bulk of the story with minimum expenditure of effort.
My only issue with the story so far would be the small amount of grammatical errors and spelling mistakes that keep it just shy of being professional quality. However for this site the quality is excellent, and nothing a little editing would not fix.
I very much look forward to reading further!
Elecham: Wander West, in Shadow is the best thing I’ve read on RR. It’s early still, I haven’t been here long, but I’m not sure I’m going to find anything this good any time soon.
So far, I’ve only read arc 1, The Glimmerling. It’s a dark tale of two souls that are joined together by a chance (or maybe not so chance) encounter, set in a world that drips and bubbles and bleeds gothic, misty, and serene. Monsters peek from every shadow and there are always ghosts just behind you, but don’t come expecting goblins and orcs, elves and dwarves. If these ever appear, I’m sure Clover will have wrapped them so tightly in his prose that they’ll seem like something else entirely. But instead of them, you’ll be treated to the author’s own creations, which seem so new and yet so familiar. The Glimmerling, specifically, was an amazing slice of the world. STYLE
Clover’s prose is carefully wrought and intensely descriptive. While I enjoy his mood-setting, I think his action scenes need a little work, and his paragraphs could be less dense (if this would result in a better story, I am powerless to say).
Impeccable. Nothing to point out. Editing would serve to get rid of repeated words at best.
Every single one a breathing item and inserted into a living world not-haphazardly but with planning and care. Webnovels tend to suffer from blank protagonist syndrome — not the case here. Martim is a complete person, Elyse the same. The secondary characters that pop into the story, friends and foes alike, are distinctive, with their own wants, their own lacks, never a vehicle to get the heroes from point A to B.
I’ve been saving the best for last. Here is where WWiS goes from a nicely-done narrative to something I wouldn’t be a bit surprised to see traditionally published. Clover seems to draw from classics. I couldn’t tell you which ones, but his world reminds me of stories like The Witcher, The Black Company, and, in general, makes me think of finding an amazing new universe to lose myself in. It’s a feeling I hadn’t felt in a while, so dark and serious, but so inviting, and I sincerely want to thank the author. I’m definitely going to keep reading this one.
Highlord_of_Iron: The story primarily details the travels of two aspiring students of magic as they deal with the dangerous creatures of the world. Its a story of small scale, personal, and filled with tension and a creeping dread.
Style: The style can primarily I think be represented with its two largest components. First heavy description, of both characters and their world, to really drag the reader in so that they might feel as the characters do. Second, slowly layering details of the encounters with the monsters that are the focus of their adventures. Slowly building dread, with brief periods of calm, a welcome respite from the tension. Both are effectively used, and are good choices considering the genre.Story: As I mentioned, the scale is very close to the characters, which I think is a major strong point. The monsters which are the focal point of the story, are done very well, and appear adequately dangerous. That said, even taking the nature of the story as being one of horror, I think it takes a bit too long. The first arc I think being much better paced of the two. Its very hard to maintain effective tension for too long.
Grammar: Its very good. A few very minor errors blemishing what would otherwise be a perfect score. There is some repetition in the diction, but its a nit-pick.
Characters: While grounded well in archetypes, and well balanced between the two central characters, have enough added dimensions to avoid cliché. They’re interesting, and their differentiation shows up effectively in their worldview, and interestingly in how they perform their art. The side characters despite many not having that much page time, becoming endearing enough in good time to work quite well. Dialog is a bit repetitive, recycling the same rhythms.
Luxmes: Sub-title: Written by a modern author.
Besides one problem, words repetition, the description-heavy style is mastered to a good level, creating environment and characters that are vivid, if slow to be presented. Some styles are quick, this one is a slow wave rolling over the sand, covering it thoroughly.
The mastery of the pacing through sentences is a true pleasure, as I haven’t spotted even one comma out of place. It’s still a non-professional book but it’s better than most.
In term of dialogues, nothing special. It’s smooth and sticks to the style of story written here.
4.5 out of 5
Some minor errors hinder slightly the reading.
4.5 out of 5
The story has very fairytale-heavy feel (as in, a true fairytale, not the manga/anime) which is refreshing in a place where Isekai Litrpg are kings and mild smut stories queens.
5 out of 5
The characters are classical takes of the fairytale style, both humans and symbols, be it the MC, the adjuvant or the enemies.
The dynamics between the main duo is interesting to follow, as they exchange knowledge and impression in a very genuine way.
The lack of originality may bother some, but it’s not bad per se, as it’s very well inscribed in the general theme.
4.5 out of 5
A very pure, in the true sense of the term, fairytale that somewhat grabs you and pulls you in for a refreshing experience. The prose support well the intent of the story and, if some tiny problems exist here and there, it is, overall, a very good experience. I recommend.
4.5 out of 5
– Stray thoughts :
This isn’t fantasy, this is “Merveilleux”, a specific style closer from Arthurians’ myths and old folks tales than from the Modern Fantasy kind.
I mean, this is so classical you can feel which trope is coming next, but it’s by no mean bad. It’s good, even.
The story put a smile on my face more than once. It’s a good sign ^w^
precinctomega: This is quality fantasy horror that evokes a fully-realized piece of complex world-building in a few linked short stories. If say it was as if John Brunner had written Warhammer Fantasy. And I mean that as highest praise. If you like your magic to feel like it’s a dangerous enterprise, undertaken by incautious fools, and your fantasy worlds to feel as if they are occupied by dark and forbidding horrors, then The Glimmerling will be time well spent.
That said, there are a few passages – particularly towards the start – that could benefit from a re-visiting as they sit somewhat at odds with the flow of the rest of the narrative.
This is confident, competent prose with a deft hand for evoking a spine chilling and creepy setting.
The characterization is sightly inconsistent, and the logic occasionally wobbly. But you’ll barely notice.
I love the approach of telling a much larger, more expansive tale through a series of self-contained short stories. Few writers do this well, but it’s well-fitted to the narrative of The Glimmering and executed with expertise.
A second pass to sort out the handful of logical inconsistencies (imo) would rate this a five.
The author has clearly got an expert grasp of grammar. However, the text does have a light dusting of spelling and grammar errors – just what one would expect from a first draft and which will all be swept up in a second pass, I’m certain.
Martin and Elyse are an appealing pair of heroes with well imagined histories and adequate motivations, but there are some consistency issues. They both seem to waver between sightly contradictory versions of themselves. I think it may take until the whole fiction is finished before this can be cleared up and the author can determine what the definite truth of each of them.
I am definitely following this fiction. I’ve not seen anything else quite like it on RR and it’s a welcome break from yet another LitRPG (says the person writing a LitRPG). I could definitely see The Glimmering finding a future in mainstream publication through someone like Tor Books or Angry Robot.
Despite some clunkiness, I thoroughly enjoyed what is being served. It’s been a really long time since I read a story that reads so classically that it was a bit of a shock to my system. The story is thick and familiar while also being fresh enough to not be boring. And the contents, boy do I enjoy dark stuff and this has that in spades. If you read only the first chapter, you’ll be in for thinking that you’re reading an old school fairytale. These expectations will be subverted but also fulfilled, there is an air of whimsy that’s reminiscent of the original Brother’s Grimm fairytales. There is a darkness that permeates the writing that really drew me in.
Story & Character:
By and far the two strongest points of this story. I really enjoyed the return to form in bringing fairytales back to their cautionary, deeply disturbing roots. The name of the first tale, The Glimmerling, sounds incredibly whimsical. Like a name that a child came up with. Yet, we’re thrown into a world that’s very dark and brooding and I enjoyed that. Personally, I’m not the biggest fan of whimsical tales. I find them too saccharine for my tastes. This story strikes the right balance of sweet whimsy and cautionary darkness. Martim and Elyse are very interesting characters in their own rights. We learn enough about them to make them interesting but the author keeps some secrets in reserve to string us along. The big reveal, and the tenuous tether that binds the initial story to, what I assume and was stated as, a larger world, is well handled and avoids the usual pitfall of “exposition drop, let me explain why this person is doing what they’re doing.”
I, personally, like Elyse a bit more. She’s smart, sassy, and incredibly naive while also having secrets of her own that will be wonderful points for the author to expand on later. I guess I’m just a sucker for a good, smart female lead who can do things on their own. She’s worryingly oblivious to how the world works and I hope that doesn’t get her in trouble down the line.
Style & Grammar:
These two points go hand in hand and are the weakest points. As I said in my summary, this story reads like a classic. The language used and the mannerisms of the writer make it feel old. Sometimes this is good, but sometimes this bogs down the reading experience. My biggest gripe was the constant use of commas. Way too many commas for my liking. A few times per chapter I couldn’t help but notice how long-winded some of the sentences were. And while this adds to the whimsy and the classical feel, it also makes it hard for the reader. I had to reread a couple of passages a few times just to understand what was being communicated. But, that’s just a personal gripe and I feel it can easily be remedied with some editing passes and collaboration with a willing critique partner or editor who can help suggest and brainstorm ways to cut things down.
I did notice a few grammatical and syntax errors, nothing too immersion breaking but still noticeable. Again, these can be cleaned up with quick and easy editing passes and fresh eyes helping to look for these things.
What we have here is something completely out of the norm for RR. Classically styled fairytales that read and feel like classic fantasy are few and far between on this site. In fact, I think this Is the first time I’ve even read something like this on here. I think the author has the beginnings of something very special and unique. With some edits and some cleaning up, I can see this being much much more enjoyable of a read that draws on the nostalgia of childhood fairytales. The story is strong and draws on well-trodden paths while also finding its own feet. The characters are unique enough to stand on their own while being familiar enough that we can relate to them through recognizing some old favorites. I think this would appeal to any reader who is willing to use their imagination, connecting dots and opening themselves up to twists and turns. Also, its dark so that’s a plus.
[omitted other reviews due to length and enough content shown above]
Story Post Last Updated: April 24, 2021