Title: To Target the Heart (Spellster Series #2)
Author: Aldrea Alien
Published/Free: Published. $2.99 (until the 15th of April)
Status: Complete book of on-going series
Warnings: Suicide attempt. Violence. Homophobia.
How can he win with the odds stacked against him?
Prince Hamish has no interest in fulfilling his duty of marrying. Not to a woman, at least. That doesn’t stop his mother, Queen Fiona, from presenting him with every eligible noblewoman that enters their castle. He’s certain it’ll be no different with the representative of the Udynea Empire.
So when they do arrive, Hamish is relieved the imperial prince, Darshan, is not the woman everyone expected. Until the man kisses him and Hamish is confronted by the very emotions he has been forced to conceal or be punished for. Emotions he is eager to explore.
But the kiss proves to be a little too public and leads his mother to take drastic measures to ensure Hamish adheres to her family vision. The contest of arms will force Hamish to make a choice: give up his happiness for convention’s sake or send the kingdom spiralling into civil war for the right to love his own way.
Review: Entertaining read. Really liked Darshan and Hamish. Excited for what happens next!
Author: Epic Solemnity (Dark_Cyan_Star)
Length: 2 parts so far, Part I: 22 Chapters, Part II: 19/30 Chapters
Status: WIP, updates once or twice a week
Warnings: graphic violence, implied/referenced incest
Link: AO3 (Part I) AO3 (Part II)
Summary: Raised in the slums, away from his scheming relatives, a prince grows up dreaming of revenge. However, blood is power, and despite his royal lineage, Ezra isn’t an Elemental. Or so he believes. When he reencounters his darkly enthralling uncle, he finds himself facing new, enigmatic possibilities and unlocked powers. He soon realizes he doesn’t want to kill his family. He wants to beat them at their own game.
Review: The world built around this story is amazing. I love the dynamics of all the characters, and the story itself is new and refreshing. The author is a great writer and it really shows in her word choice and grammar. Although they claim the story updates once a week, they have posted more than one chapter a week many times. If you love fantasy and slow burn, this is the story for you.
Title: Visioner (The Shifter War Book 2)
Author: K K Ness
Published/Free: Published ($2.99)
Length: 214 pages
Status: Ongoing Series
Warnings: Violence and Death
Summary: Sequel to Messenger, Book One of The Shifter War
As the first ever human custodian, Danil is sworn to protect the strange new magic threading across the deadlands. But the armies of Roldaer are stirring, and when an assassin nearly takes his life, Danil sets out to win the aid of the Amasian High Council.
With Hafryn by his side, Danil discovers that allies are rarely what they seem. Intrigue and betrayal haunt their steps, and soon Danil and Hafryn must use all their wits to stay alive. Meanwhile, a fearsome magic that has not been unleashed since the blackest days of the Great War is reawakened.
Using such magic could see Danil save the deadlands, or destroy it.
Review: I loved this one too! Can’t wait for the next book!
Title: Messenger (The Shifter War Book 1)
Author: K K Ness
Published/Free: Published ($.99)
Length: 150 pages
Status: Ongoing Series
Warnings: Violence and Death
Summary: For centuries, the deadlands have separated the kingdoms of Roldaer and Amas, enforcing an uneasy truce. But the deadlands hold their own secrets.
Danil is a deadlands scavenger, his days spent scouring a barren land for ancient battlefield relics and mage-crystals. When the brutal magi of Roldaer take over his village, Danil becomes the key to unleashing a powerful enemy set on plunging both kingdoms into war.
Desperate and on the run, he finds unexpected aid from the Amasian shapeshifters. Among them is Hafryn, an irreverent shifter who fights the magi with sword, tooth and claw. But safety with the shifters cannot last. As the magi set their plans into motion, Danil will have to embark on a terrifying mission to a broken citadel where an ancient enemy awaits. Failure to stop the magi may cost him far more than his life, and Danil discovers that courage and determination may not be enough…
Review: I loved this! Very well written and left me wanting more!
Title: First Kiss at a Spooky Soirée
Format: Visual novel
Published/Free: free/name your own price
Warnings: some strong language and screen shakes
Summary:You play Marzipan, a light witch who’s gone her whole life without kissing anyone–UNTIL TONIGHT!
Review: Marzipan tastes great and that’s reason enough to play… no? The art is super cute and I loved the different endings. Even characters I didn’t really like at first got to me. Kinda sad we can’t date ourselves because Marzipan is a sugarbomb. Or a pumpkin latte. If you like Halloween and girls, that’s the game for you. Got translated into Korean and German, and there’s an option to change the font for dyslexic players.
Title: The Landlord
Author: Asuka Kureru (Askerian)
Length: 119k words
Warnings: None that I can think of
Summary: Fresh-faced university student Sevan picks up rugged, funny Mikhail. Okay, is picked up. Same result – a nice evening for all. No consequences, right?
Only Sevan is a mage, and Mikhail is… well.
Review: Admittedly I haven’t read this one for a while, and feel like I can’t give it a deserving review. However, I remember it being very good and I’ve read it twice. I came across it today in my bookmarks and thought it deserved a little extra attention.
Title: Ghost of the Cascade Mountains
Length: 4 chapters so far
Warnings: Anal Angst D/s M/M Oral Rape Rim
Summary: Hunter’s family’s drug trade in Shortgrass is at stake and now the dragon mage is trapped behind enemy lines. Fate forces His hand and he must take a hostage to survive.
Review: Only four chapters long, so far, but it has chance to be one of the best stories I have read for a long awhile. Interesting world-building and characters, but what really got me sucked was the very real and unpretentious storytelling.
Author: Pamela Kotila (Alakotila)
Published/Free: Free. Two volumes available for purchase on Kickstarter
Length: 20 chapters and counting
Warnings: Torture in flashbacks, combative violence, and sexual references
Summary: Prentice, a former soldier struggling with events a year before the story’s start, is introduced to a city’s criminal system by new friends. Attacks during his training reveal threads to a large trap for their system.
Review: Spidersilk is Social Fantasy. While the primary relationship is a sweet romance between a warrior-mage and a golden-hearted thief, the story follows other relationships, most notably friendships and chosen family. Because of the interwoven story lines, I feel as if the comic’s title is as descriptive of the story’s structure as the network of criminals accepted by the city.
The large cast can be hard to follow, especially when background characters are referred to by name. Original character designs makes remembering the big players easier. It’s obvious their creator cares about showing their unique identities.
One aspect I really appreciate about the cast is the mix of masculinity and femininity in the characters. After jumping in from a reading break, remembering the gender of the secondary characters can be a challenge but it ultimately doesn’t matter. They treat each other differently based on skill, affiliation, and attraction rather than on gender.
The characters are beautiful. All of them. I suspect every reader develops a crush on at least one character. It’s not only their pretty faces, lean bodies, lush hair, and intricately-drawn clothing; many of the characters have lovely personalities. Excepting the occasional racist guard and mysterious strangers attacking the city’s system, the characters are accepting, supportive, and interesting.
I wouldn’t mind living in their world.
There’s both beauty and humor. The physical humor is actually what first hooked me. This summoned creature called Ambassador is a big contributor. He seems to change size to loom threateningly or to offer up hugs. He has to share the funny moments with a guard llama (my favorite), an owl, and even clothing as an impromptu weapon.
That this comic is culturally rich is quickly apparent. While Prentice (and the reader) is introduced to the city of Kalviva. The clash and blend of cultures from outside the city adds to the rich tapestry of the world.
Speaking of, I wish for a faster-moving plot. That’s because I’m more action-oriented and more interested in the main couple than any of their friends and allies. More patient readers might delight in the time spent exploring the side relationships.
What many of us fans have in common is that we wait like spiders, ready to pounce on each new page.
Title: The Viper’s Scheme
Length: 162k so far
Warnings: slavery, rape, abuse
Summary: Sylves Tevenra is a powerful mage, said to have been born with the ability to subdue humanity’s mortal enemies once and for all. Esares is the demon who was sent to kill him and has been paying the price ever since. And then there is Anereth Laverien, who Esares knows is unkind and treacherous, but who is the only person his master would trust with his treasured slave.
Esares holds the key to his master’s destruction, but he will have to decide whether using it would bring him and his people closer to freedom, or merely turn him into another dangerous man’s pawn.
Review: Came for the power imbalance, stayed for the characters and worldbuilding. Could be your thing if you like hurt/comfort, fantasy and slow paced stories and have an interest in slavefics. You’ll find a lot of focus on the two main characters and the gradual progression of their relationship as well as on the power dynamics, with the main plot (the planned murder of the “Chosen One” Sylves) moving along much more slowly.
Chapters 2&3 where Esares is with Sylves are the darkest (at least of yet) and where the rape warning is especially important. One thing that got me is that at a glance Sylves has many more traits of a good person than Anereth, but his dehumanisation of slaves is where that all falls apart and he reveals himself a villain. Whereas we know Anereth has an ulterior motive for being nice to Esares yet it’s clear he at least approaches him like a person and not (only) a possession. Esares himself has been pushed nearly to breaking point but remains beautifully angry at his predicament and the oppression of his people, and continually struggles with being grateful to Anereth for things he knows shouldn’t elicit gratitude.
An engaging story with nuanced characters and a very slow burn! Be aware it’s a WIP.