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 nine 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.
Today’s serial is called Dirge, and it is written by Shaeor.
Dirge’s website definitely takes simplicity as its law but mixes it with beauty with ease. Shaoer has opted to use a “hamburger” drop down menu in place of an immediately visible one. Someone who is literate with current technology will immediately know to click it, an older generation may not, but I am honestly not sure if an older generation has any interest in a serial so… moot point?
The site creates a dark and mysterious tone with its “carpeted” background and haunting header image. The header image is very well illustrated, and I found myself lost in it for a moment. This is the first site I have come across in this challenge that uses a background image with no negative space in the foreground, allowing the text to fall directly on top of it. In my fifteen years of experience developing web pages this is a choice I have always avoided as it is often not a good design decision, but it works very well here. The text reads easily and it works well on the site.
“Screw this, he thought. A grimace graced Porter’s face, inwardly he refused to stifle it for these people.”- Dirge, Prelude I.
I love the immediate sense of disdain in this character. I love this hook. The malcontent and contempt in those two sentences is beautifully written, I absolutely wanted to know the context and happily read on.
The chapter switches between two characters and settings, and though both were intriguing, I felt like only one was necessary for a prelude. Had this been a later chapter I would have had less of a problem with it, and would have even welcomed it. When it is at the start, however, it feels a little too disconnected when the reader is trying to get their bearings. I felt like this worked for Screaming Candle’s The Strange as the characters all live in the same setting and the setting itself felt like it was an actual character being described. I did not feel like it worked here though.
With that said, I really did find the chapter enjoyable and intriguing. The first part of it describes a trial taking place after a man kills a god. That alone is a very awesome concept. The second part follows a young woman attempting to learn transdimensional travel in an abandoned and obsolete police headquarters. I am super fascinated by both of these stories, I just felt like they both deserved their own full chapters.
Beyond the story, the prose was very solid, with only one mistake that I noticed: there is a sentence that repeats itself with no narrative function (the author probably accidental pasted it). It is only worth mentioning because it did interrupt the flow of the story.
I walked away from Dirge very pleased. When all of this is done and I am finished with these challenges I plan on returning. Even with the perceived missteps I was very entertained during my reading.
Join me tomorrow for my impressions on snowmeltss’ BreakDown or check out my own serial: