Title: The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix
Author: Jack Harvey
Publisher: Less Than Three Press
Lenght: 48 pages
The Scars of Jocasta Lacroix caught my eye with the beautiful cover and the premise- the main character telling the truth behind one of her scars to her wife. Sadly, the story kind of falls apart due to its inconsistency.
None of the behavior made sense for the setting and the characters. Jocasta was allowed to speak rudely to noblemen and generals without any repercussions, despite being a common mercenary. She was calling Lady Norringham, the noblewoman they were hired to protect, by her first name even before being allowed to do so. I assumed they were already lovers by the start of the story and was shocked to find that they weren’t, Jocasta just did whatever she wanted and got away with it because she’s the main character. Her behavior never gets questioned and it felt like it hadn’t even crossed the author’s mind that that might not be how things are done. Either give us a completely new world where the rules are completely different (although why said world would still have aristocracy in the same form as ours does is confusing), give us a reason Jocasta is allowed to speak this way to the aristocrats around her, or have her face any consequences.
Speaking of nonsense, every character kept acting irresponsibly in such wild ways. Jocasta berates her mercenary colleague for sleeping with a courtesan on a job, while she herself was seducing their employer. When an assassin attacks, she lets him go because she “sees fire in his gaze and knows he’s dangerous” in a blatantly transparent need to set him up as someone dangerous, despite her group outnumbering him and herself was doing a good job of holding him off alone while half-dressed. After the assassin murders an entire troop of men at the keep they’re staying at, the general lets Jocasta go off alone after him and agrees to wait twelve hours. Jocasta decides that it’s within her authority to make a deal for several nobles and the assassin, without any of their agreements. Lady of the castle is allowed to stay the entire day in her chambers, fucking a mercenary, without anyone even raising an eyebrow, despite everyone being aware of it. Jocasta gets stabbed by a lover and doesn’t even blink. Everyone kept acting irresponsibly and irregularly and it was highly irritating.
Jocasta herself was irritating too. I don’t mind cocky characters, but I expect them to either tone it down when the situation asks for it, or for them to face any consequences of their behavior, yet Jocasta never did. Her seduction of Gail made me very uncomfortable- she just started feeling her up and when Gail protested, she just over-ruled her. And despite being very confused and even uncomfortable, the next scene it gets mentioned, she’s suddenly a demanding lover. Apart from Jocasta, all the characters felt unmemorable, with the exception of Katie, who seemed like a character I wouldn’t mind finding out more about.
Which brings me to the issue of worldbuilding. I wanted to know more about the world, why Jocasta is a half-elf from a high-fantasy setting living in current day US, but apart from few pages at the end, we never get any explanation for any of it. We also never find out what was in the vault the assassin wanted to get into. The Big MacGuffin, and we never find out what it was.
Despite all this, I wanted to know more about the story and the world. I fully expected there to be a full-length novel explaining the events mentioned in this story and was disappointed to see that no, there’s only another short story, which seems to have the same problems as this one. I’d still love to read a book in this universe that has the space to do everything the author seems to be going for due to the constraints of the format.