Book Review – “Witches’ Forest: The Adventures of Duan Surk”

The third Popfiction launch title gets reviewed today. The line looks promising so far. The fourth and final launch title will be reviewed tomorrow.

General Information

Title: Witches’ Forest (The Adventures of Duan Surk, Book One of Four)
Author: Mishio Fukazawa
Original Publication Date: The English language edition was published this month.
ISBN: 159532870X
Cover Price: $7.99 US, $10.49 Can
Buy from: Amazon.com or Amazon.ca

Premise

A young adventurer looking to level up on a good quest gets some partners and adopts their quests as his own.

High Point

“If you really think about it, we’re breaking and entering and taking their stuff.”

Low Point

The sixteen and twenty four years old all have a ten year old sense of humour.

The Scores

The originality comes in the style and attitudes rather than the plot and setting. There is an odd mix of the real and unreal: we have moral realism with shades of grey, but the mechanics of leveling up complete with levels and experience points are odd, as are the inserted ads and character profiles. I give it 4 out of 6.

The imagery is functional, but not excessive. I give it 5 out of 6.

The story is well plotted, with interesting goals and attitudes. Moral ambiguities are addressed, particularly in areas that are common in these stories. All of the pieces are here, though they are doled out one at a time, very methodically. However, that’s primarily an editing issue. I give the story 5 out of 6.

The characterization is as I remember it from the teen fiction I read as a teen: depth is obtained by acting like a charicature and thinking something completely different. Like all of the PopFiction books being reviewed this week, it’s just the first in a series, so there may be room for further growth later. I suspect this primarily because we do see some depth from Agnis, who is the most personally involved in this particular story. I give it 4 out of 6.

The emotional response is good. It’s a fun adventure story that points out some of the trappings of the genre. I give it 5 out of 6.

The editing will get the same pass on typos as the other books in the line I’ve reviewed this week. In terms of story structure, there were a few more monster fights than were strictly necessary. The events of each fight had some sort of impact on the long term story, but there was no real need for some of these events to be distinct. (For example, the first Griffin attack and the Minotaur attack could have been combined, as the realizations by one character and the injury of another didn’t need to be in two fights, and the story could have moved ahead a little faster.) It just felt a little stretched out. I give it 3 out of 6.

Overall, despite the feeling that it’s a bit long, it’s still a good, fun story. I give it 5 out of 6.

In total, Witches’ Forest receives 31 out of 42.

5 replies on “Book Review – “Witches’ Forest: The Adventures of Duan Surk””

  1. chad says:

    The Review
    This review really doesn’t tell me what the book’s about (other than the 1-sentence premise). Any chance you can add a paragraph or so with more detailed information?

    • fiziko says:

      Re: The Review

      This review really doesn’t tell me what the book’s about (other than the 1-sentence premise). Any chance you can add a paragraph or so with more detailed information?

      From the back of the book: "Duan Surk is a 16-year-old Level 2 fighter who gets lost in the spooky Witches’ Forest, along with two other adventurers: Agnis, a beautiful 16-year-old witch, and Olba, an older, highly skilled fighter. The trio embarks on the quest of a lifetime – battling mythical creatures, outwitting evil sorceresses, and attempting to rescue Agnis’ mother from an evil spell!" The main quest is saving Agnis’ mother. What it doesn’t say is that her mother was a mistress, and that her father’s wife is the woman who cast the spell. This is part of the drive behind the moral ambiguities they have to deal with, in which it’s unclear whether the heroes are right or wrong in some of their attitudes and decisions. It’s this moral ambiguity that sets the book apart from other "get the magic object from the evil witch(es) to lift the spell" stories.

      • chad says:

        Re: The Review
        Thank you–that was helpful. I notice it says "Level 2 fighter." Is this series tied in with a role-playing game, or is that just how the book’s world works?

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        • fiziko says:

          Re: The Review

          Thank you–that was helpful. I notice it says "Level 2 fighter." Is this series tied in with a role-playing game, or is that just how the book’s world works?

          That’s just the way the book works.

  2. chad says:

    My Take
    Now that I’ve read the book, I like it. It’s a fun read, and I’m willing to forgive editing errors if the book is good. Looking forward to the next one in the series.

    Who else would come up with the idea of an army camp disbanding and marching off, all in the time it takes for the assistant cook to get some water?

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