M. Jones, editor of The Random Eye, (@pinkbagels on twitter) has started up a new online serial. As is the case with many character-driven stories, 314 Crescent Manor starts off a little slow, but—with only ten episodes up—it has picked up speed quite nicely.
Mark and Nathan are brothers in name only. There is little love lost between them: any time spent together is torture for both of them. Yet something unexplained ties them together, pushes them to try, and try again at building their relationship. So when Mark moves to a new city for job-related reasons, artist Nathan packs his bags and follows suit. It just so happens that the place they move into is going to change their lives forever.
While the first couple of episodes set the tone for Nathan and Mark’s awkward sibling relationship, I wasn’t properly pulled into the story until The Event (Episode 4), when things take a bizarre twist down the rabbit hole. And it is then that M. Jones’ atmospheric story-telling really starts to shine. The sense of parallel or alternate worlds, the lurking evil, and the growing mystery all combine together into an almost Silent Hill-esque setting which promises more questions than answers. A compelling plot is beginning to unfold, and I look forward to future updates.
The episodes jump between Mark and Nathan’s point of view, and seem set to detail their parallel experiences of The Event. Both points of view are well-written and distinctive, although perhaps it would be clearer if the author marked at the top of each episode what point of view it is in.
The writing is description-heavy, often times eerie. For my tastes, it is a little too verbose at times, but the overall quality is extremely solid.
Both plot and characterization are strong, the latter particularly so; I have a very clear impression of not just Mark and Nathan, but all of the characters.
As for the website, it is a classic wordpress theme, and very easy to navigate. There is a lot of additional information to browse, including detailed character bios (although I recommend reading these after reading the first five episodes, unless you don’t mind spoilers).
For the most part, the layout is clear, uncluttered; pleasing to the eye. I particularly like how each episode has an accompanying image, although perhaps a couple of the images are a little too big. I’m not, however, a fan of adjusted text, but it’s only a minor complaint.
In sum: an refreshingly eerie serial that looks set to become even stronger. Definitely one to watch.