Today I visited Winter Mill. It is a snowy, quaint little town with a population of 27,499. It looks a little Sim City and has a High School, a bookshop, a Mall and Mill, as well as residential buildings known as Matheson Cabin and Morrow Mansion. Since those buildings are yet to open, I had a wander over to the Police Station. The place was totally deserted so, to entertain myself, I riffled through some evidence left on a policeman’s desk and had a look at a police report detailing an unexplained death which had taken place in Winter Mill Forest Culvert.
Winter Mill is the fictional town which is the backdrop to an interactive mystery story launched as Mortal Kiss. Mortal Kiss is the collaborative effort of Random House Children’s Books and Stardoll, an online community aimed at seven to seventeen year old girls. The network, which reportedly has over 100 million registered users worldwide, focuses on fashion and entertainment and celebrity news.
Mortal Kiss is Random House’s first attempt at an interactive e-book. As someone who has been a huge fan of crime fiction and mystery stories since childhood, I think that this particular interactive e-book has a lot to offer creatively, visually and recreationally.
The story starts with a prologue (yes, I am going to read this teenage fiction through to its conclusion) of a man running frantically through the snow. The prologue sets up the mysterious premise of the story: A “John Doe” who has been found lying face down in a clearing in the woods of Chaney Road. Following the prologue, readers are introduced to the main protagonist of the story, Faye McCarron. The chapters of the story are released progressively, as are the various locations in Winter Mill which readers are allowed to visit and interact with. As is the case with most mystery fiction, the reader is taken along on the journey with the protagonist – in this McCarron – as she and her friends seek to solve the mystery that has befallen Winter Mill.
Compared with other interactive narratives on the net, such as Choose Your Own Adventure and Unknown Tales, Mortal Kiss seems to present a very rich synthesis of narrative, visuals and web-enhanced interactivity. I will definitely be following the story as it develops to examine this very interesting interactive e-book.