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The Cluster of Echoes
April 5, 2020 (paperback)
March 28, 2022 (hardback)
400 sections |
The Alchemist's Folly by Victoria Hancox is the second in a series of standalone interactive horror books called Choose Your Path and Face the Consequence after the excellent Nightshift by the same author. The reader takes on the part of the main character heading to a well-known bio facility for a job interview, hoping to become a prize-winning scientist and contribute to saving the world from an unusual disease spreading across the country. The interview proves to be an odd affair until you progress further into the Bio-Imperium building and realise trying to win the job ahead of other applicants is the least of your problems!
If you've read Nightshift, you know what to expect from Victoria's storytelling, with a chilling plot wrapped around a seemingly innocent scenario, plenty of visceral descriptions of inhuman practices and bloodshed as well as loops that will attempt to trick you into missing valuable items or information during your journey. It's all top-notch stuff as usual, with a pseudo Island of Doctor Moreau feel in that there are strange and unusual experiments going on involving people and animals which may lead to you finding equally odd allies along the way. The book is as much a mystery as it is a horror story and one that kept me wanting to turn pages until I had won the day.
This book is a thick-ish tome, but still only clocks in at 400 sections (some of the sections can be 1 to 1.5 pages hence the thickness). The writing is never boring but be warned that you need to pay attention to what is going on. Quite often, especially late in the book, you will be asked about things you observed earlier. If you didn't take notes or missed certain encounters entirely, your character is in for either a horrible death, or a fate worse than death. So keep an eye out for those clues, and I would encourage some kind of mapping if you don't want to get lost in the loop-de-loop that happens near the latter part of the story! I thought the various puzzles were fine, though it would be remiss of me not to mention that there will be some challenging ones on offer (again, made easier if you note down the clues you find).
Tricky puzzles aside, The Alchemist's Folly is another winner for Victoria Hancox. If you like interactive books and the horror genre, this is a must-buy.
The second gamebook from the author follows the dark theme of her first book, Nightshift. The reader is asked to identify and choose between a practical decision vs. a moral one, and nothing is black and white. The newly added illustrations amp up the atmosphere and puzzles are challenging but fair. I felt a sense of accomplishment after solving the puzzles and getting to the end of this grisly tale. I enjoyed the book even more than her first one but beware as it is not for the faint hearted!
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