Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella by Blakely Chorpenning
Fray loves being a semi-pro fighter and free spirit. However, when a deadly faction begins abducting supernatural teens in the Blue Hills of North Carolina for excruciating experiments, she quickly learns there is more to life than glitzy opponents and late night trysts. Fray and a crew of unlikely allies must rescue the children before they are dissected alive. Being a leopard shapeshifter helps. Confronting personal prejudice and traversing feelings for a tempestuous ex do not mix. But Fray is willing to go all the way to stop her world from changing. That is, until the ultimate sacrifice forces her to realize just how overdue change is.
Her most shocking discovery: Everyone’s human. At least a little…
Review by Sky Corbelli
There are two things I look for when reviewing a book: ideas and execution. A story composed of amazing ideas can capture the imagination in spite of any flaws in execution, just as a faultless execution can draw the reader in despite unimaginative ideas. Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella by Blakely Chorpenning is, in both respects, mediocre. I'm certain there are people who would enjoy this book. Unfortunately, those people are not me.
Here's something to understand: I love animals. As in, I spent much of my young life working at the SF Zoo and writing/performing wildlife shows there-in. So when I hear about a book that is going combine animals with fantasy (two things I love), it fills me with a strange mixture of hope and fear. It's like the apprehension that comes with seeing a friend for the first time in years. Are they still the same lovable character you once knew? Have they become even more awesome than you could have imagined? Or will they they be unkempt and ask to borrow money? Let me just say, had Frayed taken time and care with the animal aspects it presented, I would have loved the book forever. Alas, any differences between the various were-creatures were reduced to strictly cosmetic. There was so much to work with! I half hoped for an African animal shifter sub-community... a suburban savanna, if you would. Some things to ponder. Leopards are solitary by nature and sneaky as hell. Lions are social and patriarchal and the males are lazy. I'm trying really hard not to go into the size differences... but let's just say that pitting a female leopard against a male lion would be like asking a chihuahua to take on a mastiff. The little dog may get really, really lucky, but only if the mastiff is sleeping.
So the zoo nerd in me will be sitting this one out, that's fine. At least it's still urban fantasy. Shifters who are the basis for ghost myths? Cool, I like it. Vampires, werewolves, curses and dark forests... all the staples were present and accounted for.. There was, however, one rather key item missing. The draw of urban fantasy is the understanding that it could be real. Supernatural beings hiding in plain sight, hidden worlds and well kept secrets, oblivious humans or a really good reason why the normal folk aren't asking questions. The unspoken assumption here is that there are normal humans. So where are they? Throughout the course of this story, we meet shifters of all shapes and sizes, vampires and werewolves popping up left and right, and a grand total of one human. And he's already clued in. Shifters tear apart the landscape, vampires explode on city streets... where my muggles at? Do they know about all this supernatural business? Are there any kinds of rules that regulate interactions? Anything? These are things that should be explored! This is less urban fantasy and more fantasy that happens to be in an urban setting.
Don't get me wrong, there are some good ideas here. Underground MMA shifter fights, which we honestly didn't see enough of. Monsters who are people too, and therefore prejudiced against anyone not like them. What this book is isn't bad, I simply lament what it could have been.
You know what I want to see in a book? Well-developed characters. To some extent, Madison Lark is such a character. Sure, she's completely one-dimensional... but by the end of the book, at least it's a different one-dimension. She progresses from being prejudiced, antagonistic and confrontational to being open-minded, compassionate and confrontational. The progression feels natural, and her journey is well thought out. Personally, I don't like her, but kudos to the author for writing a believable character who comes to terms with her own flaws in a realistic way.
Sadly, she was the only developed character. And there were a lot of characters. Every time someone new entered, they got a blurb. Name and body type. Physical description. Main character's impressions of them. File that information away... or just forget about it, since most of them made no real contribution to the story. Let me make this perfectly clear: data dumping is not character development. Show, don't tell. This applies to characters too. Is the ex-boyfriend an unrepentant womanizer? Have him leer at some women! Tell humorous stories about his exploits! Don't tell me that he has a personality, give him one! Now, I realize that this was just a novella. I understand that there just wasn't enough time to explore everything. And I wonder... why not? Take the time. Tell the story that deserves to be told, and I'll read it.
There were many out-of-character decisions, and that bothers me. I'll assume it was because I just didn't understand the characters fully and leave it at that.
So about the bad guys... you know what makes Magneto such a great villain? You can empathize with him. No matter how evil he gets, you can see where he's coming from and would most likely be there with him, in his position. Child torturing shadowy organizations of murderers that have apparently been around forever and hate everyone, including themselves, however... I know we're supposed to dislike them, but seriously? A little common ground could have gone a long way.
This brings me to the most egregious sin of the Frayed execution: the betrayal. It's a dark urban fantasy, you know there's going to be one. You anticipate it, savor the coming shock and horror, and when it happens you really shouldn't say, "Huh? Who?" and then need to search the book for references to an obscure character who only showed up once. I didn't even realize why everyone was so upset until the main character came out explicitly came out and said it.. And I went back through and looked for this, because it's important. Was there an off-scene conversation during the big fight? A heartfelt confession that we never heard? Maybe one of the ghosts saw something... I don't know, but chalking it up to magical-leopard-awareness-of-guilt doesn't sit well with me.
The book was also often quite verbose. Pot, kettle, I know, I know.
Okay, I realize that this review comes off as harsh. But I only criticize because I care. This story has potential. I would love to find out what it becomes. Three stars is the same rating I would give Jim Butcher's Storm Front or GRRM's A Feast for Crows. There's some good company there, especially for a first time author, and just because I didn't like the book doesn't mean that it isn't worth reading. So if you really like urban fantasy, enjoy giving new authors a chance (as you should), or just think that I'm a right bastard for being so nasty, give this book a try.
This Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella book review was written by Floresiensis
Have you read Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella?
We've found that while readers like to know what we think of a book they find additional reader reviews a massive help in deciding if it is the right book for them. So if you have a spare moment, please tell us your thoughts by writing a reader's review. Thank you.
Frayed: A Madison Lark Novella reader reviews
3/10 from 1 reviews
There are currently no reader reviews for this book. Why not be the first?
Write a reader review
Thank you for taking the time to write a review on this book, it really makes a difference and helps readers to find their perfect book.
More recommended reading in this genre
Never Knew Another
Fugitive Rachel Nolander is a newcomer to the city of Dogsland, where the rich throw parties and the poor just do whatever they can to scrape by. Supported by her brother D...
Apocalyptic Montessa and Nuclear Lulu
Mercedes M Yardley
Her mama always said she was special. His daddy called him a demon. But even monsters can fall in love. Montessa Tovar is walking home alone when she is abducted by Lu, a s...
A flash of light and Detective Joe Dante steps through. No longer on the cobblestone streets of 1961 Boston, Joe finds himself in a horrifying new world-Hell itself. Joe wa...
The Dirty Streets of Heaven
Sure, he takes the occasional trip to Heaven, but his job as an advocate - arguing the fate of the recently deceased - keeps him pretty busy on Earth, and he's more tha...
The Hollow City
Michael Shipman is paranoid schizophrenic; he suffers from hallucinations, delusions, and complex fantasies of persecution and horror. That's bad enough. But what can h...
Life sucks and then you die. Or, if you’re James Stark, you spend eleven years in Hell as a hitman before finally escaping, only to land back in the hell-on-earth tha...
Miriam Black knows when you will die. Still in her early twenties, she's foreseen hundreds of car crashes, heart attacks, strokes, suicides, and slow deaths by cancer. ...
Deadbeat - Makes You Stronger
Max and Tom are old, old friends, who used to be actors. Tom now owns a jazz nightclub called Deadbeat which, as well as being their source of income, is also something of ...
The Year of the Ladybird
It is the summer of 1976, the hottest since records began and a young man leaves behind his student days and learns how to grow up. A first job in a holiday camp beckons. B...
The Clown Service
The Department: Section 37 Station Office, Wood Green. The Boss: August Shining, an ex-Cambridge, Cold War-era spy. The Mission: Charged with protecting Great Britain and i...
Nameless: The Darkness Comes
Mercedes M Yardley
Luna Masterson sees demons. She has been dealing with the demonic all her life, so when her brother gets tangled up with a demon named Sparkles, ‘Luna the Lunatic&rsq...
So welcome to Midnight where nothing is what it seems and not knowing everything about your neighbours may end up getting you killed. I enjoy this kind of story, a mystery/...
Tricia Sullivan has written an extraordinary, genre defining novel that begins with the mystery of a woman who barely knows herself and ends with a discovery that transcend...
They enslaved humanity three thousand years ago. Tall, strong, perfect, superhuman and near immortal they rule from their glittering palaces in the eternal city in the cent...
Half-devil and miles from anything resembling heroic, perpetual underdog Frank "Triggaltheron" Trigg is the last man standing against Armageddon. As the favorite ...
Looking for more suggestions? Try these pages: