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Queen Of Crows $2.99
Publisher: FR Press
by Jason T. [Featured Reviewer] Date Added: 03/21/2010 22:16:39

Author Monica Valentinelli’s The Queen of Crows is an eBook of sorts, but rather than a standard watermarked PDF of text-filled pages, Valentinelli’s offering is a glimpse of the potential that digital books can fulfill. The Queen of Crows is a multifaceted “product” built around a single character, complete with dynamic artwork by artist Leanne Buckley and a design motif embodying the world in which the story takes place. The book’s most interesting and perhaps most unique feature is Valentinelli’s account of her writing process and the origins of the creativity that eventually manifest as the book’s central story.

The featured component is a short story entitled The Queen of Crows in which a Native American shaman named Tse is visited in his dreams by Mahochepi, a vengeance spirit who shows him visions of white soldiers arriving in large numbers. When Mahochepi sends a Corpse-witch, her corporeal ambassador to teach Tse the spell that calls forth Mahochepi , he’s faced with a horrifying dilemma – whether to stay and face the soldiers alone or to call on the Queen of Crows and accept the consequences that accompany her.

Valentinelli’s writing is well-researched and vividly executed. Her world pulls itself from the pages of history books and comes to life, fully realized and described in concrete detail. Valentinelli populates this landscape and then crafts a slow burning and suspenseful horror that envelops the story as we read our way toward the inevitable encounter with Mahochepi – the Queen of Crows.

The short story comprises about half of the product with the second half devoted to several purposes. There’s the section entitled “Inspiration” which describes both the historical and personal origins of the story. Next Valentinelli includes a character biography for Mahochepi which describes her in great detail and provides an obvious utility for use in RPGs, an application for which Valentinelli has written in the past. There’s also a letter to the readers from Valentinelli describing both her creative philosophy and creative process followed by the start of her unfinished novel which functions as a sort of rough draft of The Queen of Crows.

The amount and variety of information contained in this project is truly impressive. There’s scary and compelling fiction, autobiographical and inspirational nonfiction, fantastic artwork, links to other resources, multiple versions of the story, the characters, and their world, and all in just 40 pages. Monica Valentinelli’s The Queen of Crows must be considered a successful experiment in digital publishing and a significant benchmark for the medium.

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Queen Of Crows
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