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Heretical Fishing

Written By Haylock Jobson

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Brilliantly executed, cautiously funny and engaging, Heretical Fishing is a finely crafted slice of life story that I’m thankful to have read and would happily recommend to anyone. I give it a solid 5 stars, and it absolutely deserves it. It isn’t a perfect story, but it does so many things very well that it wouldn’t be right to give it anything lower.

Since this book has been talked about a lot (!), I’ve decided to keep the review relatively short… mostly so you can go read the book, rather than my review.

The characters. It is difficult to effectively convey differences between characters that are more than just their physical appearance. And while I couldn’t recite the names of every character in this story, I could distinctly and happily list characteristics for several. Where the plot is light at times (e.g. it is considered slice of life), the characters drive the story forward and keep interactions interesting.

On characters, a special shout out needs to be made for the non-human characters that often steal the show. Sometimes showing more depth than the main character himself, these non-human characters added levity to the story, without making it too absurd. I’m being vague, so as not to spoil anything, but their given names will absolutely make you smile.

Continuing with characterization, because it’s just that good, the story is told from multiple perspectives, and despite jumping between what felt like twenty characters, I never felt lost. The author even uses these jumps to his advantage, showcasing how two different types of people might interpret an interaction (for example, the main character and the mayor, for those who’ve read), and how a simple misunderstanding can have significant ramifications!

The scenario itself is familiar (this is an isekai), but without a focus on action and progress, the story takes its time. Through the exploration of the newfound town in a new world, we learn about the main character, his desires and most of all fishing. Several chapters are spent almost entirely on just fishing, and where I thought I’d get annoyed or bored, the writing was engaging enough that I wasn’t bothered.

I saw a funny anecdote by another reviewer. In it they said that they felt comfortable going to fish after reading the book, and honestly, I get it.

Now, I was hard-pressed to find minor gripes, but any review should include a bit of criticism to show both sides. For this book, I wouldn’t recommend it to someone who abhors multiple POVS. While it is done well, the entire story is multi-POV. Also, I would say that the middle of the book meanders a bit more than the beginning and end. Non-action based conflict occurs throughout the book, but I found the middle to lack the same weight of conflict, compared to the rest of the story. And in a slice of life, where so many chapters are spent exploring and well, fishing, the conflict helped to break things up.

To finish on a high note, the story is funny. I wasn’t laughing out loud, but I smiled several times as the cults got involved or at the absurd characters. There was enough to keep the story light, but not so much that I was constantly rolling my eyes.

Overall, I truly enjoyed the story, and I happily give it 5 stars.

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