In a world of sky islands orbiting around a core of mist, humanity is besieged with countless threats. When a young girl from the slums unwittingly becomes one of those threats, she finds herself capable of horrific things that she cant help but learn to love...
Vigor Mortis is a lighthearted story about existential terror. Come for the horror, stay for the hope.
59. Chicken Soup for the Undead Soul
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Well written, and better presented.
This fiction is close enough to grammatically flawless that I cannot think of a single mistake or even obviously questionable phrasing. The world building is also presented skillfully, obviously present and trackable, but not overly emphasized or unnaturally represented.
However, one of the qualities I appreciate the most is how the characters behavior and motivations are not overly emphasized or seemingly absent. In a shocking percentage of fiction containing themes like forbidden abilities, a lower class protagonist or a church or similar organization that persecutes the protagonist, the conflict is made over the top.
The upper class, in whatever form, will be unnaturally evil, behaving in a way no sane human being should as a way to instigate emotional reactions. Similarly, the protagonist and their allies will be shaped and motivated by this.
In my experience, that is a common and disappointing mistake, and is not present in this fiction. Instead, despite the injustice inherent in their environment, it is not presented unnaturally and is allowed to simply be seen as the nature of the world. The closes point to falling to the trope is her first kill, but it is not taken to a degree that feels out of place.
Overall, this is an excellent story that I would recommend reading, engaging, in depth and capable of pulling off themes that often trip up writers.
EDIT:Totally updated the review after chapter 162. My opinion have changed overall. Especially on the Character side of things
Overall: Vigor Mortis is a story that, during the best parts, will make you wait in torture for the next chapter. The plot is extremely interesting, the power system is well-developed, and there are constant foreshadowing about what is to come and often this is enough to totally overshadow any wrongs in this story.
But oh boy, the bad parts arebad,extremely so.
Style: The style is almost excellent, and were it not for a few moments where the author did not manage to convey the characters emotion and actions.
Story: Ive already sung the praises of this story. Simply put, the setting is amazing while being realistic. You can feel the momentum each character brings to the world with their action, and the world is anything but static.
Characters: To be short: They suck. I re-read the story, and I kid you not I cannot find ONE character whom I think is written well. This is even more aggravated by the fact that Vita slowly stops being a character and more of a plot tool with vague feelings guiding her along the way.
To explain it in more depth: No character is deep enough to be even truly understood. To the point where Im starting to think that the author barely plans the plot around the character and simply bends their personality to make it so the plot can go on. It is so jarring that multiple times during my initial reading I thought that the author was trying to subtly hint that the character were mind-controlled during these actions, but no, its simply bad writing.
And when I mean every character, I meanevery character. I literally re-read the story with a notebook where I wrote the name of each character to try and come up with a general idea of why I disliked them so much, but I just wasnt able to think of them as anything but puppets. Puppets that are defined by one single defining trait, and that do not matter except in the scope of the plot. Again, the only one that barely manages to escape this initially is Vita, but she gets worse as time goes on.
Finally... Lark. At some point in the story the author introduces a character, and we start to get regular PoV chapters from him to the point that they make up for around half of all chapters after her introduction. This is a decision that still manages to make my scratch my head, because shes not an interesting character. Shes not animportantcharacter as we find out. She doesnt really bring a new perspective to the story, most of her chapters are either physical torture porn or emotional torture porn. Her chapters are so laughably useless that I actually laughed out loud during my re-read knowing that ther character development would be thrown out of the window to deliver small plot-demanded gut punches.
Vigor Mortis is not a bad story. Its not good either. If you are able to withstand and extremely shallow cast of characters, youre likely going to find the series really entertaining, otherwise, this is probably not for you.
Since my first contact with the LitRPG genre in the form of Travis Bagwells novels, or perhaps even before that as I played HOMM3 with my father at the tender age of 10, Ive always had an appreciation for Necromancy and other evil magics.
Something about the way that a fireball could kill someone with a thought but isnt considered as evil as someone who brings another back to life has always tickled my hypocrisy bone.
More specifically though, I think its that storys about the evil magics being wielded by an otherwise normal person always come with a bit of intrigue. Either way, I think that Thundamoo is doing a very good job with this story. I picked it up last night and was unable to put it down until my eyes actually closed themselves. The first time Ive actually fallen asleep while reading in a long time, and only because I was exhausted before hand (I supposed my sleep schedule is thankful for that).
The MC is an orphan, but doesnt spend much time at all feeling the same sort of self-pity one would expect after the first chapter or so. Just enough for you to know that her life kind of just sucks.
Her power is likely illegal, which we know, but she doesnt hide it from her friends or try to become a secret super hero as many do. She is well aware that she is far over her head and seeks help from those close to her, which I appreciate. She doesnt even do the typical cliche of trying to hide her first zombie for some sort of forced sentimental reason, something that Ive always found a bit cringy. There is even minimal reflection on the first kill, which is a big plus to me. (Ive always hated the, my stomach turned and I could sleep and also vomit or whatever that followed characters from universe to universe, from story to story, regardless of the circumstance of the kill or the underlying trauma that should make them numb to it.)
We are able to see her psyche warp in almost real time, or perhaps we mearly glimpse the trauma from a lifetime of abuse and starvation. Who knows, and who cares? Its fun either way.
The worldbuilding, magic system and the general plot are all very good. I especially like the worldbuilding, with the minor cosmic horror theme in the background being the main reason im still reading.
That said i really dislike how the main character is written and how the other characters react to her. Which is obviously a major downside from my point of view. Fundamentally the reason i dont like her, as a character, is because all her personality quirks are forced down your throat by the author on a frequent basis; as well as some of those quirks feeling somewhat mutually exclusive with each.
To give an example of the throat forcing, would be the whole adorable thing. Repeatedly throughout this story Vita does something cute, then the author emphasises how cute that action is by having Vita deny its cute, then some other character will say wow that was so cute Vita - which Vita will then deny. This will go on for another paragraph, just to emphasise how really cute Vita is
The constant over emphasization of how Vita is a starving orphan is another one. Multiple times now the author makes a side character that doesnt really like Vita come along to witness how poor she is, so that they can then change their mind and like her. Another example that constantly comes up, is when Vita doesnt understand some concept - because shes poor - and then another character will say i cant believe you dont know this (thing). Vita will then proceed to describe how poor she is in weird amounts of detail. Side character now loves Vita more, the reader feels more sympathy towards Vita and the whole world is now acutely aware of how utterly poor Vita is.
Alright i think ive given you the general gist, next point!
So Vita was raised on the streets by herself with no support - until very late on. Despite this, she is very kind hearted, caring and cutesy - thats all fine, seems unlikely those circumstances would cultivate those traits in anyone, but its possible. She is then also shown to be very steadfast, willing to kill and does well in stressful situations - doesnt really mesh well with the first few traits but okay. Then lastly she is shown to breakdown crying after someone was mean to her, becomes incredibly close and vulnerable to people shes only known for a few weeks. None of these traits are mutually exclusive per se, but they are an incredibly weird mishmash and seem to switch quickly depending on whether the author wants to elicit sympathy points or to show her as a badass. Just keep your character consistent and stop trying to make her both vulnerable and cutesy, as well as an independent badass.
Lastly, unrelated to Vita. The invisible mind control slimes, which most people arent aware of, can instantly take over people regardless of power level and can then make them kill themselves. How the hell have they not already taken over human civilisation or just the whole world by mind controlling everything? Hopefully theres a reason in text, but the fact these obviously insanely dangerous creatures are almost completely unknown is weird as hell.
Edit: May i just say i got a downvote on this about 5 seconds after i posted it. There is no way in hell anyone read it that quickly, so whoever you are, you suck big time.
The reason youll see so many high ratings for this story is for the same reason Im hesitant to even post my review: theres a lot here to like. Where I personally start hemming and hawing over recommending the story though is in how disjointed so much of it feels.
Each part of what drives the story istechnicallygood. The caveat to that statement is earned through the herculean suspension of disbelief the reader is asked to repeatedly perform, either due to strange tone shifts, out-of-left field drops in intelligence, or simply taboo (in this world) magics being glossed over into a huh, I guess we have to deal with this.
Think of it like this - the characters are passable, but are strangely related to the world. The world is interesting, but doesnt seem to mesh with the plot. The plot could be intriguing, if it were spread out more or split into different stories.
The biggest example I can think of to show why I feel this way is technically a spoiler...but really would be a dealbreaker for most readers not looking for an active antihero:
We are given a scenario where invisible parasitic slime monsters are attached to two members of the party. A number of fairly obvious clues lead up to the revelation that these monsters take over the host body.
MC decides that after freeing one party member from literal enslavement (one that has your actual self acting as an observer inside your own body as the slime controls everything), that these creatures arent allthatbad, except in the case of the one that has somehow supplanted her team leads soul in a matter of days.
Keep in mind that up until this point, weve been seeing a kind of rage against authority/the ones keeping you down vibe around everything. Also up until this point, MC is readily killing basically everything she can to fuel her growth, but suddenly the slime trying to control some of the only people willing to give her the time of day are A-okay.
I enjoyed the story a lot up to a point where I realized that there wont be much progress with regard to character building. There just isnt much depth to the characters (even the main ones, cause the side ones fall flat straight from the beginning) and having read 92 chapters at this point, I do not expect things to change. To be honest, it would not be a problem if the story remained lighthearted as its description suggests but at some point, due to the protagonists choices, I could not treat it as such anymore. Its either or, but cant be both.
Some people could perhaps stay for the plot as its certainly very enjoyable and fast-paced though, again, I do not have the patience to wait for the disclosure of big secrets if other parts of the story are not up to a par.
The style is very consistent throughout, though the chapters written from the point of view of characters other than Vita feel as if they were narrated by her nonetheless.
I havent noticed anything amiss with regard to grammar.
Overall, the story is easy on the eye but not enough not to drop it.
The story has an interesting premise, characters are fleshed out, action scenes are well written, but it later degenerates into unneccessary grief. There are repeated chances for good things to happen, but for reasons I dont agree with, they just dont happen- instead things get worse for everyone. Things progressively get sadder and sadder as the main character gets more and more reprehensible and more powerful.
Additionally, every character except for two seem to be deeply bitter.
[Edited for the second time: continually rated higher than in my earlier reviews. Edits are marked like this one.]
[Edit:Tl;dr: this is a story you can obsess over. There are many fascinating characters, and I changed my review title because its no longer just a Great story about an adorable psychopath girl. Passionate readers are debate-warring on the scale(s) of evil in the comments, which are shown to be quite fluent all over the story. Also a reason for:Trigger warnings almost every chapter.Not for the faint of heart.]
a psychopathic orphan (MC), pursued for for her very nature of being an eldritch necromancer
a healer dancing on corpses to find immortality for everyone
a sapient monster atoning for cannibalism
a scrupulous inquisitor having doubts on the morality of her doctrines
and of course many more lesser characters, among them mind-control slimes, a church worshipping an eldritch abomination, a necromantic soul-splicer, (in)sane spliced souls, undead worshipping the MC, crimelords turning terrorists, brainwashed maids, alien invaders, undead soulsplices of mind-control slimes in resurrected slime bodies who worship the MC.
And yes, it all makes sense, horrifyingly so. To the reader, not to the generally innocent population that somehow still lives in this world.
[Remnants from the original review]:
Wonderful fantasy world-building! This story has a weird urban civilization where nearly everyone lives in a crater city in the widst of a jungle. It takes place in orbital flying islands instead of a boring planet with moons. Metal is incredily rare, so other materials are in use. Those are just some concepts, and they are woven into the story as basic facts because nobody in this world could think of things be otherwise. That world-building is overall consistent and makes for a great story concept, earning five points deservedly. Again, wonderful!
Grammar is next best: There are lots of errors pointed out in reader comments, but author fixed them. Pronto. So when I read it later, it was already diligently fixed.
My gripe with the story that has earned it some style deductions, are the original style that is still apparent: It started as a vote-for-plot story. The choices and the outcomes have been reworked and wrapped up good, BUT there are still some weird mood swings resulting from that origin: Several times, Vita considers all her options like they are all equal, before then choosing a path almost arbitrarily.
[Edit: Im not rereading currently, but want to point out that vote-for-plot stuff is over for a long time, and may have been fixed in the early chapters.]
And so we come to the character score: I like Vita, she has spunk and is a quirky, blasphemously funny character with a horribly sad backstory. But then, as I pointed out in the paragraph above: She has internal debates whether or not she will murder everyone she meets. That is full-blown psychopathic. Yes she has feelings, and develops friendships, but she remains a survivor-type gutter type, and is ultimately a monster as she admits even to herself.[Edit:And here I have to refer to the spoilers from above just below the tl;dr section, and delete some earlier criticism that is no longer accurate.]But aside from Vita, there are great supporting characters who later become much more prominent... In fact, I like two of them much much more than the MC herself.
Summary: I highly recommend this story. Though it sometimes involves fairly dark scenarios and potentially triggering events of a morally dubious nature despite having several well-meaning characters (and others less so).
A poor orphan finds out that she has a dark power that is considered taboo by a significant portion of society. She struggles with learning how to use her power and survive in a world where she needs to steal to obtain food for herself and the other children who live with her in a shack. In a world where death is commonplace in her neighbourhood, gangs control the slums she lives in, and where literal monsters roam outside the city walls; she also has to hide the nature of her abilities from public view, while using them to survive and build a better future for her and her loved ones in a very dangerous world.
The main character is an interesting blend of seemingly contradictory aspects that somehow Thundamoo is able to make work. She is an adorable child with a sympathetic background willing to go the extra mile for those she cares about. She is also a pragmatist who is no stranger to death or crime and is more than willing to kill to not only defend herself but also just to grow stronger. The other characters are also well-written. Their actions and reactions add additional depth to their character without being inconsistent with the way they have been previously been portrayed. The story does not suddenly change characters personality and actions to suit the plot, but allows for more complex figures to provide more interesting detail to the story.
The writing style is clear and engaging. The narrative has a good pace and I was never tempted to skim over any paragraphs to get to the good bits. The spelling and grammar are also generally good (though there are a few minor errors).
Review initially written when Chapter 19 (Sticky-Souled Situation) was the latest chapter. Last updated when Chapter 140 (Stronger) was the latest chapter.
Vigor Mortis is a coming-of-age story in a fantastical medieval world, where sky islands floating overhead is a frequent phenomena, where the Templers keep order, where the Mistwatcher always watches. Vita, a starving orphan discovers an innate dark talent which tears her from a world of thieving and forces her onto a path that will put her at odds with a savage, omnipotent Ancient being.
Using survival instincts that have kept her alive in this unforgiving world thus far, Vita carves out a role for herself in a hunters guild, making friends with some unconventional characters along the way.
Vigor Mortis is written in a light-hearted point of view of a young female protagonist, nicely balancing the darker themes of necromancy in the story. The prose is simple and easy to follow, while each chapter is treasure waiting to be unveiled. The main character stays true to her backstory while her companions are complex and interesting.
Excellent world building with distinctive features and an unusual magic system. The story has plenty of hooks to reel the reader in and is a definite page turner.
Overall, a unique story and an outstanding read. One of my favourite stories on Royal Road!
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Categories: General fiction