Through the Portals: Author Versus Author****
by: A.E. Hellstorm and Lenita Sheridan

I’m fellow contestant in Author Versus Author Tournament 1, so in the spirit of friendly competition and comradery between authors, I’m withholding my notes on style, text, and judgement of winner. I did take notes on that stuff, but I’m keeping that private, scoping the competition. Instead I’m offering my honest opinion of the final product, the story that A.E. Hellstorm and Lenita Sheridan put together.

I paid for my copy and intend to read many more. This is such an interesting concept! Pitting two authors against one another, each jerking the reigns of the plot from the other on a chapter to chapter basis. I plot heavily as a writer, so to have the plot yanked out from under you at every turn on the laptop creates a unique challenge. Adapting to it, overcoming the unexpected, and remaining committed to the story as a whole can only enhance the writer’s skill at the craft.

Through the Portals is a story about Sarah, a girl struggling with depression and feelings of isolation. Her life crisis starts off weird and ends winds through fairy kingdoms that are weirder still. One author brings darkness into the fantasy while the other pulls for the lighter fairy tale tone we all know from childhood.

There are bugs. I was pretty grossed out reading the first chapter, but in that good way. The way that lets you know there is something fascinating and gross lurking under the surface, not gloppy.

The story’s conflict may be masked by a barrage of odd ball fantasy characters, but I think that both writers grasped that it was really a tale of a lonely girl confronting trust issues and an attempt to stoke her own compassion.

Sarah repelled me at first, I believe that was the Author A’s intention. Suicide is so foreign to a somewhat well-adjusted and productive person who strives for personal contentment. I felt compassion for her struggle and pride at how the character developed near the end.

I feel that the character we readers followed in the story developed into the caring, energetic person I hoped she would become. I won’t elaborate since I don’t want to spoil the outcome of the story. I only hint because I felt this was a tale of personal development and want to assure the timid browser that Hellstorm and Sheridan got along enough to leave this reader satisfied.

I withheld one star because I would like for some scenes to have had more imagery. Hopefully this opinion keeps me within my disclaimed perimeters, if not I claim cognitive dissonance.

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