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This was a fine addition to the growing market of adult (written for grown-ups, that is) interactive fiction and gamebooks. A dizzying and ambitious plotline, the choices will soon have you wondering how long you've been lost at this encampment -- which is part of the fun.
I was thoroughly impressed by the lack of "insta-deaths." The story just keeps going! Strong atmospheric dread also helps keep you engaged as a reader. My only complaint would be that some of the events (no spoilers) are not offered as choices, but rather occur as the result of other choices, however that may be intentional on the author's part and is more of my personal preference than it is a critique. A top notch book overall.
Victoria Hancox has made great strides for interactive books, and I for one hope she continues writing them!
I could never say enough about why I love this book. In fact, I don’t want to say much at all, because the surprises contained within are one of its strengths. If you like mindf*** movies like inception, memento, fight club, coherence, the butterfly effect, or psychological horrors like bug, the ring, flat liners, the shining, etc… then you will love this interactive masterpiece of a book.
Where to begin? Victoria Hancox's book seem to get better with each release. This is the finest of her gamebooks to date. An interesting backstory, an eerie setting and a gripping narrative all combined with simple rules i.e. no dice required to make an engaging and compelling read. The writing is done brilliantly (I'm trying not to give too much away) and makes you want to reread once finished to see what small comments or descriptions that you dismissed or overlooked in the initial read to understand with hindsight where they sit in the overall story. Take notes, notes and more notes! No matter how innocuous you think it is, it may be worth taking a note of for use later on. This is one of those gamebooks that you could see easily transfer to the big screen given its setting, stotyline etc. Well worth the purchase and highly recommended. Looking for ward to the next entry in the Cluster of Echos series already.
The Phantom Self is the third gamebook written by Victoria Hancox and it is perhaps her most ambitious and cleverest work to date. Set in the modern era, the book casts the reader in the role of the leader of a small team of paranormal investigators sent to uncover the truth behind a series of strange disappearances and ghostly sightings surrounding a remote coastal research centre. Is the place really haunted, is it an elaborate hoax, or is it something else entirely?
Like the previous two gamebooks in this fast-growing series, no dice are needed - instead the reader must solve a series of puzzles and use their wits to progress in the story and uncover the truth behind the mystery. This isn't an all-out horror gamebook, but is instead more of a psychological thriller and it really works, with the fear and paranoia building between the 'hero' and their team as strange things keep happening. It's not an easy ride by any means, and will likely require mutliple readings before reaching the 'good' ending. This isn't a bad thing by any means, since each attempt reveals more layers to the mystery.
Also, there's a spooky lighthouse, which is always good.
This is the third book I have read of Victoria Hancox and I have to say it surpasses them all. The depth of imagination she creates is amazing, and you really do feel that you are a part of the book. I cannot wait for the next book. If this is your genre of book, this is the one for you.
This is the first book I've read from the author. It is very well written with a fascinating plot involving multiple time streams. Thematically it is part mystery, and part horror. It is ambitious for a gamebook not only in its main premise but also in how it deals with characters. The mechanics include code words, a couple of items and a few relatively simple puzzles. This is a game that you can play multiple times - even after reaching a 'successful' conclusion from among the several possible endings - as there are a couple of mutually exclusive paths, and far more than you can discover in a single read through.
This is the third of Victoria Hancox's gamebooks, which take the mechanics of the children's book movement which was at its height in the mid-80s, but which are angled towards the more mature (and twisted) mind.
This book is incredibly clever in its construction and, without giving anything away, the way it fits together is very satisfying. As a game, it is not too hard to get to the end, so this would be a perfect entry point for anyone who did not experience gamebooks in their childhood. Those who fancy more of a challenge should investigate Hancox's other 2 gamebooks.