Beta Reading “Tales”



One thing I’ve learned, is that the process of writing and editing a book can seem an endless cycle of tedium.

Fortunately, not all aspects of improving The Witch-Doctor are unpleasant.

For example, I’m super excited to be beta reading Tales From When I Had A Face.

Tales is an illustrated novel written by James Curcio (author of Party at The World’s End as well as Tales) of the Fallen Cycle crew. It is currently in-production.

(If you follow my social media on Twitter or Facebook you’re probably familiar with the project.)

For those unlucky few out there who’ve not had the good fortune, Tales is described as:

“A battle between the light of remembrance and dark of forgetting; the burden of tradition, and the cost of progress. Tales From When I Had A Face is an existential fairy tale, told for those of us that may have grown up, but still remember the uncertainty of a world steeped in the occult logic of dreams.”

Pretty cool, huh?

Part of my job during The Witch-Doctor rewrite is to weave my story into the overarching, transmedia world of the collaborative mythos.

When I first started working with James and the other folks associated with the Fallen Cycle, there was a lot of room for crossover and the meshing of fictions already latent within our works.

As time goes on, however, the complexity of working from various angles within one fictional world grows and it becomes necessary to look carefully at one another’s work and established canon.

Continuity, lore, all that fun stuff.

Tales isn’t out (yet), but the project is nearing completion and James was kind enough to let me beta read his work.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the term, beta reading is essentially just reading over someone’s writing to assess things like flow, plot-holes and typos.

I haven’t finished it yet, but I’m enthralled.

Now some thoughts, without giving too much away…

Tales reads like a fairy tale, but one that harkens back to bygone eras.

This is no Disney special.

Unlike the highly sanitized and bubble-wrapped versions of fairy stories found among the detritus of modern media, Tales shows us occult and alien aspects of a world parallel to our own. The fey stands alongside the fleshly in this story.

Curcio paints a fever dream portrait of a world falling apart and beholden to its own rules, while simultaneously guiding his protagonists through the delirium in a way that preserves wonderment for the reader.

The world of Tales feels immersive, as though the sentences and words used to walk us through the story were merely the thinnest layers of ice over a deep lake.

This isn’t to imply the writing is shallow; it isn’t. The writing merely points ever onward towards ‘something more’ looming over the horizon.

It is infuriatingly attention grabbing, in the best way possible.

We are shown enough to keep us looking, told enough to prompt us to ask questions, but thankfully never beaten over the head with info-dumps or intricate cosmological prologues.

One gets the sense that the obfuscation is all part of the suspense.

In an era of spoon-fed plots and half-baked conflicts, I personally welcome it.

The writing leaves me with a profound sense of magic and mystery that I cannot wait to keep uncovering.

Equanimous Rex is a writer,  podcaster, and esotericist. He currently writes non-fiction articles for Disinformation and Modern Mythology. Additionally, he is the creator of The Witch-Doctor serial fiction podcast, which is a part of the Fallen Cycle mythos. Equanimous enjoys wandering verdant forests, playing with dogs, and cascading ontological shock.

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