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Raik, by Harry Giles

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful:
It's braw tae be bonnie an' weel-likit, July 30, 2017
by juliaofbath (Edinburgh, Scotland)
Related reviews: braw, scots
My first encounter with 'Raik' was during its exhibition at the National Library of Scotland a few years back, where it was made openly available to the public in a historic setting in Edinburgh. Although I hesitate to display bias, in this rich and culturally relevant atmosphere 'Raik' was a solid five out of five for me. However, as I spend some time with it alone in my flat (which is normally how I encounter IF), my critical opinion wanes slightly, but my love of the story does not.

'Raik' switches as deftly between Scots and English as it does between its two contrasting/complementary plotlines, both of which are freely navigable by the reader. When reading the segments of the text in Scots, the main character navigates the challenges of modern living and a debilitating anxiety disorder, and when the text switches to English the narrative adopts a distinctly fantastical tone that would be at home among the work of Robert Jordan or Patrick Rothfuss. This constant movement between worlds and languages is pleasant, and creates a sort of meaningful dissonance. My advice to any readers unfamiliar with Scots would be to actually sound out each word aloud as you read. Scots is a phonetic dialect that can be bewildering on a page or a screen, so vocalising the text helps.

My only real criticism of ‘Raik’ is that it isn’t as interactive as it could be, and it never really feels as though the reader is surrounded by infinite textual possibilities. Harry Giles uses twine and hypertext with some skill, but does nothing to push the genre and assert the interactivity of the plot. The story is very short, which is a downside for me as well.

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