A Quagmire Of Horror And Love

(Updated 6/10/22)

I don’t normally do book reviews. If you’ve looked at my (sadly outdated) Goodreads list, I give stars and say nothing.

I do this out of a desire to remain as neutral as possible towards my fellow authors. I neither want to play favorites nor do I want to blast the work that others have toiled to produce. I have regard for their efforts and for this life of writing we all seem to share.

But I’m about to make an exception. Because the work here is exceptional.

It’s a serial, not a book you can go download. You don’t need to; it’s right here on WordPress.

TRIGGER WARNING: it deals with LGBTQ+, trauma, child abuse, mental health issues, and eldritch horror. Right up my alley, taste-wise in what I like to immerse myself in…as well as what my life has been. For others, well, now’s your chance to jump ship. No spoilers, though.

Do a simple search for the word ‘katalepsis.’ Or just skip that and go to katalepsis.net. And then prepare yourself to be eaten by this truly outstanding story. I’m serious! I cannot put this down. I find ways to read it even when I’m trying not to. I’m trying to ration it out. But I’m greedy and this story keeps giving me exactly what I want to be reading.

It follows the story of British university student Heather Morell on her journey to find her sister and make some friends along the way.

This is not your typical Lovecraft wannabe. This is strong on characters; their interactions and development. It’s Michael Moorcock-level pulp. It doesn’t veer into cliche horror porn, rather it lets these characters take center stage and do what they will: Raine, the muscle. Evelyn, the brains. Praem, the…well, I’m not sure what you’d call Praem besides ‘awesome.’ Lozzie, Tenny, Twil, Nicole, Seven-Shades-Of-Sunlight, and the ever-expanding cast are brilliant. They each speak with a distinctive and true voice. One commenter called them the ‘lesbian disaster squad.’

And HY, the author, does something that most authors are afraid to do: torture her characters. Again and again and again. And each time, they change. They grow. They fail. They get back up, wipe the blood off of their faces and try again.

Without offering spoilers, all I can tell you is that this work is worth your time. If you like eldritch horror, strong characters, wild rides with unexpected turns, and seriously good prose, give this one a try. It updates with a new chapter every Saturday since 2019.

I have two bones to pick (and you’ll notice that they don’t keep me from being addicted to this story or keep it from being amazing): first and minor is that Kimberly pops into the story, seems to be important, then drops off the face of the planet. This is disappointing. I would like to see some development (and certainly more interaction) for her.

The second is major. The story is up to Arc 17 as of this posting and I’m currently reading in Arc 14; estimated 600k words read for me at this point. In all that I’ve read thus far, there are zero male characters who aren’t either throwaways or active antagonists. To me, it’s a glaring problem. And when there are a few chapters where men are described as “fucktoys,” or “fuckboys,” it borders on offensive when there are no positive male characters to balance out what feels like simmering anti-male sentiment. At times it reads rather like an inverse-Bechdel scenario (and shows my lingering AMAB tendencies).

That isn’t going to stop me from reading. It really is too good to put down.

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