The Dark Verse, Vol 1: From the Passages of Revenants by M Amanuensis Sharkchild (1:47)

iod-passagesofrevenantsToday we see that a precious or arch narrative style is like a fresh razor; one slip and the virtue becomes a vice.

What I gleaned about the stories: The daughters of fortitude roil heavy in iniquity tonight.

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Note: This is a short story collection, so the rules are slightly different from standard Immerse or Die: instead of reading on every time I lose immersion, I stop reading that story and move on to the next one. As usual, I stop reading after the third WTF.

Note 2: Both the cover and the author’s name made me aware that this collection was likely not to stick completely to the language usages common to modern fiction. However, I am fond of both Lovecraftian and surreal fiction, so didn’t see that as a barrier to my immersion.

WTF #1: Distracting capital

Analysis: The introduction (somewhat charmingly called Exordiam) ends with: This is a portion of that text there concealed; this is a portion From the Passages of Revenants. Usually when stating something is an extract the structure would be ‘this is a portion from {Title}’ so the capital caught me out. A moment later, I realised the From was part of the title; however, my mind then niggled at the absence of the from I expected (i.e. ‘this is a portion from From the Passages of Revenants’).

Aware I was focused on how I would construct the sentence, rather than immersed in the book, I moved on.

WTF #2: Ill-constructed image

Analysis: A few sentences into the first story, I hit: The sweet, effervescent smell that spread amongst us imparted a horrid sensation of life when despair was its true insinuation. Effervescent is a bubbly, and thus uplifting or energizing effect; so clashed somewhat with despair, which is a dull, limp emotion. Imparting is a process of revealing facts, so clashes with insinuation, an oblique hint. On their own, either might have formed a subtly unpleasant disjunction in the image without damaging immersion; however, the effort of trying to resolve two contradictions in the same sentence left me unable to form a stable mental image. Which was a shame as I found the sentence toothsome as a pure string of sound.

Undecided whether the author had misremembered the meanings of some words or pushed too hard for a stylistic fancy, I moved on.

WTF #3: Half-echo

Analysis: A little way into the second story, I encountered: I had always been no more than a hermit, straying from one shell—one shelter—to another,… While shell and shelter look like different words, they share a first syllable; therefore, because I hear narration as if spoken, the words sounded like as …one-shel one-shel-ter… This came across as someone stumbling in the middle of a word and then restarting. As that isn’t how the sentence was punctuated, this niggled me. So, I paused to wonder why the hermit was living in a shell, as nothing had been mentioned earlier about giant molluscs or such.

I concluded that it might mean either a literal or metaphorical shell. However, as it had brought me to a halt, I pulled the plug.

Kudo #1: Lyric insanity

Analysis: Stripped of considerations of whether I understand it all, I found the prose pleasant as written music. I will therefore be returning to this for the pleasure of the words, with any coherence in the stories a pleasant extra.

Take the Pepsi Challenge: Want to know if my own writing measures up? Download one of these free short stories, in the format of your choice, and decide for yourself.

A Curse Upon the Saints, by J. Rutger Madison (12:15)
Why You Were Taken, by J.T. Lawrence (3:21)

About the author

Dave Higgins has worked in law and IT for both public and private sector organisations. When not pursuing these hobbies, he writes poetry and speculative fiction. He was born in Wiltshire, England. Raised by a librarian, he started reading shortly after birth and has not stopped since. He currently lives in Bristol with his wife, Nicola, his cats, Jasper and Una, and many shelves of books.