Review: Ross-Allen Letters
Written as a unique type of game supplement, the Ross-Allen Letters are a collaborative effort by Brozek and Birtolo. Both a gamer’s prompt and a cohesive work of paranormal historical fiction, the RA Letters explore a series of mysteries plaguing the Virginia lodge of a secret society dealing with the supernatural elements of the world.
Graeme Davis, the editor for Ross-Allen Letters, writes a nice little introduction, introducing the story, the setting, and the various ways of exploring the literature. He also adds insight in how to utilize the letters in a game, and offers suggestions. The introduction wraps up with a bit of history on the Colonial Gothic setting.
In the first letter, one Woodrow Ross, a plantation owner in Virginia during colonial times, reaches out to his good friend, the Doctor Frederick Allen, requesting his help with a certain delicate issue involving murder, supernatural wards, and possible conspiracy. With each letter, events grow more dire, and the discussion turns to the morality of immortality and legends shrouded in murder and mystery.
Woodrow Ross is in danger, and Frederick Allen, many hundreds of miles away, is powerless to help him.
Blending murder, colonial politics, secret societies and the supernatural the letters record a chain of events concluding with a thunderclap that creates more questions than answers.
Both authors have a crisp, clean writing style that manages to convey the more formal tone of older correspondence, without bogging down into ‘thees’ and ‘thous’ or archaic spelling. The font is in two different hand-writing scripts, which is a nice visual, and lends to the overall experience.
I started reading with absolutely no previous knowledge of the Colonial Gothic world. Even without this knowledge, I was able to pick up the plot and characters without difficulty. Although there is little complexity to the plot, there are enough details to keep interest.
As a game supplement, this is a solid addition to any library. As stand-alone fiction, I would prefer to see a resolution at the ending. While the open questions at the ending leave plenty of extrapolation and adventure opportunity for the gamer, as a reader, I wanted to know how the story ended, and who everyone was, and what they had done!
The Ross-Allen Letters is an enjoyable little novella on its own, and offers a wealth of possibilities for the Colonial Gothic gamer.
*disclaimer* Not paid to write this. Free e-copy of the book for review, only. No special favors. Souls not included…at this time.
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- April 27, 2010 / 1:04 am