Nightmare Keep by Phil Tucker

Rating 8.6/10
A thrilling and satisfying sequel that improves on its predecessor Death March in nearly every way.

A thrilling and satisfying sequel that improves on its predecessor Death March in nearly every way. 

The overarching story of what Euphoria Online is, why it was built, and where it is going is one of the more enticing mysteries that this book brings into the spotlight. Tucker once again does an excellent job balancing the mysteries of the game world with thrilling action sequences. One of Tucker's writing strenghts is building these action scenes with a strong sense of visual & spatial relations that allow for Chris' developing powers to shine. There's a lot going on during these ever-escalating battles, but it's never confusing; the rules of Chris' abilities are clearly defined and the strategies employed to help solve the surrounding threats are both clever and entertaining.

I also enjoyed how well the relationships between Chris and his companions continued to develop. The human (and especially non-human) characters grew on me, and their easy conversations and growing camaraderie felt like a natural progression. While Chris' story was still the central focus of the saga, I began to care about the fate of his companions just as much. This is an impressive feat considering the relatively low page count, and the breakneck pace of the story. There's one sequence in particular that helped me view the story from a different set of eyes that I found quite savvy and engaging, and offered a strong emotinoal impact for the supporing cast.

There weren't any major issues I had with this entry, except perhaps that our heroes were a bit too lucky in a few cases. But this story feels like it's focused on being most of all a FUN experience, so little qualms and nitpicks didn't distract me from the overall enjoyment of the story. While this story might not have the deeper character development and detailed world-building of his other sagas, it seems like Tucker instead aimed to create a supremely enjoyable adventure akin to playing a great video game, with awesome abilities, cinematic set pieces, and a mystery-laden story with prodigious consequences. In that, Tucker has achieved all of this and more in this incredibly fun LitRPG series. 

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