Single Status Update
I'm always a little hesitant to pipe up about something I love on the internet because I never know what the reaction will be, especially when it's something obscure like this. But now that I'm about halfway through the series, I can't recommend The Wandering Inn enough. It seems to be gaining a bit of traction thanks to the ebook/audiobook versions being featured on Amazon, and I can only hope this continues. I know this is a bold claim, but I have not been this invested in a book series since Harry Potter. I shit you not. So what makes it special? Well...
(No spoilers, I just accidentally wrote an essay)Spoiler
On the surface it's kind of like the Narnia series with people from Earth getting zapped into a fantasy world; the two big differences being that it's modern day and the fantasy world has video game mechanics. Everyone who lives there gains classes and levels up, and if you're on the brink of death you can just use a health potion. This might sound kinda fanfic-y in a way, but it just adds to the overall mystery and charm of this world. Even ignoring the levels, the variety of creatures helps the world stand out. It's not just filled with the standard humans/dwarves/elves (although they're all present in some form or another), there's drakes, humanoid ants, hyena-people, living doll people, bird people, and a bunch of other odd beast and monster races.
But the real reason I love this is for the characters. The "main character" (if she can still be called that) is Erin, a normal girl who suddenly finds herself stranded in this world and inadvertanly becomes an innkeeper. The first book is mostly just her trying to survive and live in this place in a kind of slice-of-life storyline. There's also Ryoka, an athlete from Earth who gets a job as a runner (a delivery person, basically) and is somewhat more focused on figuring out what the hell is going on. I love these characters because they're flawed as shit. Erin's kind and somewhat bubbly, but she's naive, stubborn, and can be a manipulative jerk at times. Ryoka's extremely smart and loyal to her (few) friends, but she's anti-social, hot-headed, and rude. This gives them both so much room for development, and I find this author is really great at subverting my expectations. There have been so many characters I either didn't expect to like or simply didn't care for initially, only for them to either develop or reveal hidden depths that make them a bajillion times more compelling.
Side-note: this might sound like a happy-go-lucky story of a pair of plucky girls having silly adventures (and sometimes it is), but shit often gets dark. This author isn't as sadistic as George R.R Martin, but let's just say I've maybe possibly shed a few tears here and there. Don't judge me, okay? Without saying too much, the chapters that deal with themes like trauma and PTSD are often the strongest.
Speaking of Martin, after the first volume things get a little more Game of Thrones-y with multiple characters and a few side-stories. Except unlike most other narratives that tackle so many threads, I can honestly say there isn't a single one I haven't liked. Some can drag on too long, but even those feel like they serve a larger purpose. Nothing feels wasted or pointless here. I'm still only about halfway through the overall series and it's still an ongoing thing, so it might be a while before we know if this all ends up paying off. Either way, the journey to it has me absolutely hooked and I'd be doing it a disservice to not sing its praises at least once. I get the feeling I'll be coming back to this for years and I can only hope its apparent success on Amazon helps the audience grow. It's a total pipe-dream, but if I can ever see a reality where The Wandering Inn becomes known enough to get something like a Netflix series I'll be a very, very happy man.
Unless the adaptation sucks but I dunno let's take baby steps here.
Yes. From my understanding it's a tad rougher to read the first two volumes that way due to some leftover typos (tbf even the "official" ebook releases still have a few), but free is free. I discovered this through the audiobook, I kinda want to recommend that because the narrator is so fucking good but it's also expensive as shit if you don't already have an Audible token. So uh...
Yeah just read it on the site, especially if you're unsure.
Right? And I feel like I'm fighting an uphill battle with TWI because it's obscure and originated on the internet by an author who only has a screenname and has gone on record as saying she doesn't write second drafts.
In other words, it has all the hallmarks of a typical fanfic, except it's not even a fanfic. And it still manages to be fucking good. So I'm bummed out by the fact this will likely never get much recognition, which makes me want to recommend it even more despite knowing most people I talk to will probably never peek at it. This thought bums me out and makes me want to talk about it and-
I'm a dog chasing my own tail here, basically.