Jin-ee leads a boring, cookie-cutter life fueled by the gears of consumerism. Having lost everything to a life that refuses to appreciate her constant slaving away for the system, she begs for a change. A second chance at adventure.
But the answer comes in a way she least expects it. A high-tech gaming company offers her the chance of a lifetime: to be a beta-tester for the new fully-immersive game Aethermarked. She quickly realizes that this is way more than she signed up for as she’s thrown headfirst into a fantasy world that feels more like real life than a game world. Soon, it won’t just be her character, Phallania, fighting for her life. Jin-ee’s stuck, and no one seems to know why.
Gosh, I haven’t written a book review in forever. I took such a long break. Such is life sometimes.
First, I’m a fan of Hanson and Locke’s style. The two together can create a gamelit book that even the non-gamers can enjoy! I am, by far, the least gamey person. I shouldn’t be reading gamelit. LOL but somehow, I find myself enjoying the basic plot instead of the game mechanics themselves. (shhhhh, I skip post of the game jargon like skills and levels and mana and spell and blahblahblah)
As far as praises go, I cannot speak highly enough of the MASSIVE world that Hanson/Locke have created. It is phenomenal the level of detail that they’ve inserted into their world. As a fantasy book, you expect that sort of detail from the author, and these two do not cut corners at all. It really is exquisite.
Plot is also another high point for these two authors. Coupled with the breathtaking character development, it’s just *chef’s kiss* Clearly, these two have thought out everything, and even a non-fantasy reader like myself can appreciate the sheer talent it takes to create something like this. I loved watching Jin-ee/Phallania grow throughout the story, embracing every obstacle that was thrown her way. She falters a few times, but she’s only human!
Now, to the complaints!! I have several, lol.
First, length. This book is a massive undertaking. It took me about three weeks. I’m a fast reader! I wanted to be able to read through this with all the speed and comfort that normally comes with a good book like this, but the size alone was just daunting to me. That, combined with the rather slow, “bored MC” trope, just didn’t do it for me.
Second… I actually don’t really know how to phrase this. It might be purely personal. I don’t know that anyone else will have this problem. I actually found myself confused more often that not. I promise, I am not dumb. I never have trouble understanding books. And it wasn’t the plot! Or the world building! It was… something else. Often, I got confused over who was who or where a certain character had come from. Exhibit A: Phallania’s sister, Kollinia. I literally cannot remember a single time she was mentioned before Act 3. I thought Phallania was an only child the WHOLE time. Exhibit B: Gerard. I won’t tell you who he is. But suddenly, his name’s just thrown in there like I was supposed to know who he was from the beginning. And I didn’t! Unless I just missed something. Like I said, might be a personal issue. But I had some trouble juggling characters.
Overall, a clearly well-thought out story that readers of the epic fantasy genre will ADORE. I’m not really one of those readers. Even I can enjoy a solid plot, though! Great job, Hanson/Locke.
Overall Rating: 3.5/5
Pacing: Very, very slow, in my opinion.
Intended Audience: Adult epic-fantasy fans.
Content Warnings: Violence and torture. Mild, fade-to-black romance.
Buy link: https://www.amazon.com/Aethermarked-Dark-Fantasy-GameLit-Isekai-ebook/dp/B09DW5C71X
I have a lot of reviews lined up for the following weeks, so I might get back to some semblance of normalcy! As always, if you want to purchase my book “Caged” you can do that at the link below. Lots of love. ❤