The old adage goes that “you should not judge a book by its cover” and though it is a virtuous sentiment it is not one that is typically followed. Welcome to day Fifteen of my 31 Days of First Impressions Challenge! In this challenge I will be reading the first entry or chapter of a different serial (or web fiction) and then give my first impressions on them be they good or bad. In short: I will be judging a book by its cover.
For today’s serial I read Death’s Door, by safra!
Death’s door website is clean, simple, and beautiful. It’s minimalist take enhances the few stylistic features it has chosen, and its top down menu made for easy navigation. The header image is a heavy contender for one of my favorites, which is impressive seeing that I have seen some pretty spectacular header images so far. I found myself liking and admiring the characters in the image before I had even had a chance to read about them.
The splash page wastes no time pointing new readers to where they need to be, as there is a link for them right off the bat. What follows next is a pitch that instantly had me. So far so good.
I found the next two paragraphs to be very redundant as it states: “‘Death’s Door’ an ongoing web serial about a girl who dies and wants to find out why…This serial follows Inez Walker on her quest to find out who murdered her and why.” Only one of these statements is really needed. This was almost frustrating to me as everything preceding this was really doing a great job to leave a positive impression on my mind. The splash page is arguably the most important page, as it is typically the first thing that the reader sees. I went into the prologue feeling much more skeptical than I had arrived.
“Henry Mullins appears at the bottom of a residential North London street at exactly four minutes past eleven on a cold Friday evening. He doesn’t emerge from a car, tired and yawning and ready to collapse in his bed after a long shift at work, he doesn’t shuffle down a pathway littered with overgrown plants and weeds, joining the rest of his neighbours as they peer curiously at the fanfare occurring just a few doors down. He simply appears.” –Death’s Door, Prologue.
Author’s note: Technically speaking, The very first sentence is the hook, as it is separated as its own paragraph. I elected to add the next bit to complete the thought and to highlight it as a point that I would like to make about safra’s writing later.
This paragraph has a very nice air of mystery to it, and I like the way the author dances around the subject before outright saying it. I am totally on-board with what I am about to read after this. With that said, the second sentence is very long. The hook is nearly 90 words long but is only three sentences. There is nothing inherently wrong with that, I had no trouble navigating the paragraph and found the opening to be very enchanting, but I can easily see someone getting lost along the way in that second sentence.
I loved this first chapter. The author introduces us to someone who is hinted at having a sort of grim reaper role. I am absolutely intrigued by the idea of a grim reaper being too empathetic for their own good. There is a sinister sense of mystery in this chapter that is at times urgent and ignored. The character that we follow has a lot of personality, so when he comes across danger I found myself already invested in him, and therefore genuinely worried. This is a very good sign of good story telling.
As I mentioned in the hook, however, safra appears to be addicted to long sentences. To be fair, this is something that I too am very guilty of, as I will easily rant on in a single sentence completely unaware that what I just wrote, though being structurally decent, is now about forty words long. I found that a good amount of the “paragraphs” in the chapter were actually just very long sentences. To be clear: I do not think that these are run on sentences. Each one at first glance appears to be grammatically sound. These long sentences can be a little laborious, and it would be nice if the author broke them apart.
I think that there needs to be a little work done on the splash page and the flow of the prologue. There is a LOT of charm in safra’s writing and on her site as a whole. I can look past mistakes like this, so I would absolutely read more of this work. Nothing was especially egregious and no error so big that it distracted me from enjoying what I read… at least not too much.
Death’s Door can be found at https://safrawrites.wordpress.com/
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on SoverignofAges’s serial Vorrgistadt Saga, or check out my own serial: