This is going to be a fairly short review, simply because the book (novella, really) is pretty short as well. I picked this up because I know the author from twitter, and decided to finally give him a shot after the absolutely HORRIBLE book that was King of Ashes. Dear god that book is still making me angry. ANYWAY!
This is not the worst nor the best thing I have ever read. Its solid average work, and I enjoyed my time with it for the most part. Let’s start with the Excerpt from the Amazon page:
Abel was forced into a world of magic and mystery when he and his brother were abducted from their humble farm. Now, he begins a lifelong struggle for sanity and survival as he learns how to harness new and bizarre magical abilities while trying to piece together just why he was chosen by his captors, the Covenant of the Grey Raven.
My issue with this book centers on the pacing. The book is told as a retelling from the main character Abel’s point of view, and early on the book moves incredibly quickly with very little time given to actually learn, connect, or grow to understand Abel himself. At the start its established that he has, in essence, a perfect existence. He is a talented chef who can make anything, better and faster than anyone in quantities too great for most to handle. He is near top of his class with only one student better then him who is also his clear “love interest”. His mother loves him, he has a great connection to his brother who also loves him, and his father encourages him but is a tad distant. However, all this is TOLD to us, not shown. We never get examples of the love between the brothers or from his mom, it’s simply stated “I have a great connection to my brother who runs a farm” for example. Its spelled out for the reader, and done incredibly fast. I just found that I couldn’t connect with Abel in this early introduction, and when the inevitable horrible things began to happen to him, seemingly without reason (or explanation to Abel OR the reader) I really didn’t feel anything for him. I couldn’t bring myself to care beyond going “Well that’s kind of messed up I wonder why they are doing this to him?” and that’s just because, again, I am not given time to get to know the character. It’s hard to care about someone you barely know when reading a novel.
However, as the book went on I did start to finally get a sense of Abel as the pacing slowed down. A kind soul, in a horrible situation, with a past that may not be as clear cut as he originally thought it was. It took roughly half the book before I finally started to connect with Abel and in a book this short that might be a deal breaker for some. This is one of those cases where the phrase “It gets better” applies, although I am not a fan of that sort of thing personally. I prefer things to hook me early and keep me going. The 50% mark is also where things really start to pick up, with hints at Abel now being more then what he was at the start showing up. Also it’s around this point that we start being SHOWN rather then TOLD things about Abel’s past, with one instance involving a little girl in a market as Abel sells cookies, and another instance between Abel and his brother regarding a sheep who has to be put down.
The writing is well done in a technical sense thankfully, with good use of word choices and such (but limited world building because again the book is pretty short), and once things finally start to get going and the greater picture starts to form things do in fact get interesting. Overall it’s a solid beginner entry from an indie author but not something I could see myself coming back to and rereading later as I might do something by Sanderson, Riordan, or Butcher for example. I cannot say much more about this book without spoiling things, but I can say I did not feel like I wasted my time with it. It was a good palate cleanser between denser reads for sure. The quick pace is both a blessing AND a curse in that regard. On the plus side the cover art is damn good for an indie book. Frequently they are a mess but this one is just a good solid piece of art.
Also, I will give it this: It’s got an ACTUAL STORY TO IT, as well as being part of a series! Thank baby Odin. I can at least promise you that if pick this book up to give it a try, you will at least get a full story contained IN this book PLUS the possibility of a continuing narrative should you give Book 2 a try. I personally, however, am not sure I want to try Book 2. Perhaps down the road if I need another palate cleanser / short read I will give it a shot. I am also not sure it’s worth $5 as it stands. It might be better priced at $2. But for a first outing I can honestly say I have read MUCH worse stuff in my time, and this is a pretty decent, if average, story. On Amazon and Goodreads I am giving this 3/5 stars.
If you want to pick up the book yourself (Support Indies people!) then you can do so on Amazon RIGHT HERE