Level Grind: The Twenty-Sided Sorceress Volume 1

Cover - Annie Bellet - Level GrindSo, I have to admit I really wanted to hate this book. I bought it on a whim because I was looking for something new to read, and I’ve made a decision to try and support new authors, and specifically new women authors because nouveau feminist father of a daughter. Anyhow, at first glance it had everything I knew I would hate: ¬†Cliched love affairs, an edgy but sexy protagonist, and a pile of pop culture references sprinkled all through the first page. /sigh.

BUT it’s actually a really fun story. I gotta give Annie Bellet props. She wrote a really great adventure that reads like the best D&D game you ever played, with enjoyable and diverse characters. The constant “geek culture” references do get a little tiresome at some points, but overall they help flesh out the characters a lot and serve as a good point of reference for the (presumed) target audience. I point out the overload of pop culture because honestly, this story and her writing would stand by itself without a lot of those references.

The main character, Jade Crow is a fully-fleshed out woman, capable of standing on her own and is very definitely the main character. It passes the Bechtel test I think, as she often discusses battle plans and a million other things with the other women in the book, of which there are many. The BBEG is her ex-lover, but no biggie.

For those interested, it’s also LGBT friendly, at least from my perspective. (Bi and Gay characters that aren’t caricatures.)

Anyhow, I liked it enough to buy Volume 2, so look for that in the near future.

A little bit of crunch to go with the fluff:  Looks like this book is aimed at teenagers, and I would give it a PG, maybe PG-13 rating for some vague sexual content and innuendo, as well as a few moments of fairly graphic violence. Narrative is first-person perspective, main character.

Buy it from Amazon!