“A clear reflection appeared in the mirror. His temple had a grotesque wound with burn marks along its periphery. Blood stained the wound’s surroundings and there wre grayish-white brain juices squirming slowly within.” (Lord of the Mysteries, Chapter One)
“Only the clueless could be fearless. After witnessing such a fascinating event and learning the situation regarding Beyonders and the mysterious world, Zhou Mingrui no longer dared to rashly try the luck enhancement ritual using ancient Feysac or Loen language.” (Lord of the Mysteries, Chapter Seven)
The story starts off from the perspective of Zhou Mingrui, our main character. He is suffering from a massive headache, and he thinks he’s dreaming until he wakes up to find that he has been transmigrated to a completely different world. He immediately starts to scan his surroundings for clues, and he finds a table before him with a notebook, a revolver and blood spattered all over his hands and the floor. The solemn words, “Everyone will die, including me,” are written in the notebook, giving Zhou Mingrui a shock. This prompts him to look in the mirror, and much to his horror, Zhou Mingrui finds a recent bullet wound to his temple.
Questions and possible answers start to swarm around in his head, and he remembers that before arriving here he had completed a luck enhancement ritual, which might be the reason for his current situation. Zhou Mingrui tries to reenact the ritual to get back home, but this only lands him into another strange, dream-like world where he can control and change things around him at will.
Just from the first chapter, we can see how observant, resourceful and smart Zhou Mingrui is. Instead of panicking at his situation, he calmly and rationally tries to figure out what to do next. Upon finding the blood on him and in the bedroom, he goes to wash himself off and then clean off the table. Zhou Mingrui is also strong-willed and a quick thinker. As he’s trying to clean up the mess, memories of the current person that he has become—Klein Moretti—start to filter through his mind in pieces. From these pieces, he is able to patch together who exactly Klein Moretti is, which is technically now who he is as well.
We learn that Klein Moretti has an older brother named Benson and a younger sister named Melissa. Their parents have both passed away, and so Benson is now the sole care-taker of the family. Despite only having limited interactions with these characters in the first couple of chapters, I was still able to get a good feel for their personalities. Melissa is ambitious and clever, while Benson is hard-working and self-sacrificing. So far, these characters seem authentic and well-rounded, and their interactions don’t seem forced in the slightest. They seem like a real family that is struggling like everyone else just to put enough food on the table.
The characters feel real because of how well the author has described them. The author uses many descriptors, metaphors and similes to strengthen the tone of the text, but it’s done in just the right amounts. It’s very easy to let adjectives and adverbs get away from you when writing, especially when you have such a detailed world that you want to present. But I feel that the author has done very well in this aspect. In addition to the characters, this book also paints a vivid scene of the world Zhou Mingrui is now in. The story takes place in a classical, western European setting, and we know this because of the way Klein Moretti’s room is introduced. Words like “ink bottle,” “brass revolver,” “pocket watch” and “gas lamp” help paint this picture. As you read, it’s easy to just close your eyes and imagine exactly what this world looks like, which shows that the author truly succeeded in describing the setting.
However, because this book takes so much time to describe its characters and set the scene, the pacing is a little on the slow side. I would call this book a “slow-burn,” so for readers who don’t have the patience for that much build up, they may find this book a bit boring. Still, the plot itself is incredibly interesting, and it gets gold stars from me for its originality and creativity. The book seems to be a mashup of steam-punk and fantasy, and there is also a strong element of mystery that grabs your attention as soon as you start the book. Despite the pacing being slow, the desire to figure out what exactly happened to Klein Moretti and how Zhou Mingrui is going to handle this new dream-like world that he can control drives you to keep reading more to find out.
Overall, this book was a good read, and personally, the somewhat slow pacing doesn’t bother me in the slightest. It feels as if I am watching a movie, or “reading” it in this case. Scenes flow well into one another, and transitions don’t feel too abrupt. The characters so far are fleshed out well, and they’re supported by an equally detailed setting. The storyline is easy to follow, and despite it being in the fantasy genre, the story is still believable and real. You can tell the author did their research or at least ensured that their story was cohesive enough before writing it down. I certainly want to keep reading to find out more about Klein Moretti and Zhou Mingrui.