Friday, March 29, 2013

Quick Thoughts on Ebook Serials, and Mini-Reviews of In Darkness We Must Abide by Rhiannon Frater

Ebook serials--i.e., stories published in 10 to 20,000 word "episodes" that add up to a complete story--seem to be increasingly popular right now.  I've actually just started three: Debt Collector by Susan Kaye Quinn, In Darkness We Must Abide by Rhiannon Frater, and Great Exploitations by Nicole Williams.  And while I don't think I'd want to read every book this way, I'm finding I'm really enjoying these!  I've never been a huge fan of short stories, but I am a fan of shorter works I can read in an hour or two, and serials offer the best of both worlds--the more developed story and characters of a novel, but separated into easily digestable chunks.  And no, it's not the same as reading 50 pages of a novel, putting it aside to read something else, then coming back to it--good serials do feel like they have a beginning and a bit of an end to each episode, even if it's a cliffhanger end!  And actually, the endings of all three series I've read so far were extremely well done--I never had that "wait, where's the next page" feeling I've gotten from plenty of full-length books.  I also think the serial format works very well for books that require a lot of world building, like Debt Collector--I might get impatient or overwhelmed with detail if I read it all at once, but again, it's the easily digestable chunks thing.  Overall, I feel like serials are a nice palate cleanser between longer books, they give me something to look forward to, and I like the idea that if I keep up with the episodes, I'll end up reading entire novels without really realizing it!

Now I have mini-reviews for the first two episodes in Rhiannon Frater's In Darkness We Must Abide serial...

Episode One: Death Comes Home

So much fun! I loved the creepy gothic feel that managed to be both modern and deliciously old-fashioned, with references to the novel Dracula, classic horror films, and more. Even though the episode is short, it gives us insight into two dangerous situations occurring on different timelines, and I'm so eager to see what happens! I feel like the lush, dark, gothic storytelling lends itself particularly well to the serial format. This is my first introduction to Rhiannon Frater's writing after hearing so many great things about her, and I certainly wasn't disappointed. I'll be seeking out more of her work!

Episode Two: Death in the Shadows

Death in the Shadows continues the deliciously dark, modern gothic tale begun in Death Comes Home. In this episode, the danger multiplies and the stakes rise... I really grew to like Alisha more in this episode, and I love that Rhiannon Frater has created such strong female characters in Alisha and Vanora. I also love the way the author weaves in aspects of traditional vampire lore and stories--this tale feels very grounded in the gothic tradition of Bram Stoker and Anne Rice, while also having a modern edge to it. One new development that really intrigued me in this episode was the idea that vampires feel emotions more intensely than humans. I'm curious to see how Frater develops that throughout the series.

I'm not sure if the serial form has traditionally been used for horror fiction, but it works really well for this story. Can't wait to read more!

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