Elysia: A Fun, Flawed, Fantasy Adventure
Elysia. Where do I begin?
The debut title of C.C. Francis, Elysia follows the adventures of Will Darkwood, a new hero on a planet where technology is indistinguishable from magic. It’s a fun premise; a world disconnected from humanity’s home by Millennia, watched over by immortal guardians with conflicting philosophies for the future of the species.
And in the middle of it all, an ordinary man from a backwoods town is plopped into a position he didn’t ask for, but he’s perfect for the job.
I loved C.C. Francis’s exploration of the future, the philosophical inquiries (especially at the end of the book), and the creative environments the story plunges through page after page. There’s so much good in this book! And I look forward to future writings from Francis.
At the same time, The Two Doctors Review must stick by its principles and discuss the good and the bad of every book read. And there are two significant points that, for me as a reader, made it difficult to fully engross myself in Elysia.
First. And I don’t want to belabor this point, because I know other reviewers have pointed it out; Elysia has a few significant formatting issues Francis needs to fix in the novel. Fortunately, they don’t detract from the narrative itself, but they do detract from the reading experience. I purchased a paperback of the book, and the type-setting was only left-aligned, not block justified to the right, creating a jagged edge on each page. And the half-inch indent was also frustrating.
Similarly, the lack of commas connecting dialogue tags to the dialogue slowed down the pace of reading the dialogue, every period causing a longer than necessary pause.
Second. The story included too many side-characters whose significance was lost upon me as I read. Fortunately, there are three of the supporting cast that blow the others out of the water (Khel, Tiberian, and Anaia). But other stragglers attached to Will Darkwood’s story detracted from what otherwise could have been a tighter, thrilling plot.
That all being said, I encourage people to give Elysia a chance, especially if you have a Kindle Unlimited membership. As an indie author debut, Francis has a lot of room to grow, and I’m incredibly excited to see what future fantastical adventure he conjures into his mind next.
Now onto the scores!
Writing: 5/10. This score results from the issues identified above: Improper formatting and jarring dialogue punctuation. If Francis re-releases this book and fixes these issues, the score would most likely rise to a 7 or 8. It’s otherwise very good prose, though I do wish the chapters were a bit longer to fully engross myself in a few of the more fascinating scenes.
Character: 6/10. Khel and Anaia and Tiberian felt like the real protagonists of the story. Will Darkwood acts as a great “naive” blank slate through which readers can observe and learn about the world, but I wish we’d seen him grow a bit more throughout. Though there’s something endearing about his reckless nature.
Setting: 8/10. The highlight of Elysia, the world takes you for a tumble throughout the novel. In particular, two particular locations at the end of the book, and their accompanying societal commentary, make the entire book worth reading.
Plot: 7/10. I wish Will was more in the driver’s seat, and I think a few sub-plots could have been cut. More importantly, the conflict between [SPOILER] and [SPOILER] was the real story we observed through Will’s eyes. I would have loved to see that fleshed out even more. Francis explores the conflict briefly through a piece of really cool magic tech (not gonna reveal the awesome name he uses), but that storyline slides to the wayside halfway through. All that being said, Khel’s role in pushing the plot toward it’s conclusion raises the score from a 6 to 7.
Overall: 6.5/10. Elysia receives three stars! I’m excited to follow Francis’s future works; Elysia is a masterclass in worldbuilding. Francis has endless room to grow in building stories to fill the worlds inside his head.