Sometimes I just really like a dark fantasy story, and this one is, uh… pretty damn dark. 😀
Most of my reading these days is either primarily at night right before I sleep, or at work in between bouts of actually doing work.
This one happened a little more of the former than the latter, and I can tell you that this story will give you some fucking strange dreams, lol.
Also, I received a free copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. 🙂
When her devout parents were killed, Cheryl abandoned her destiny as a priestess. Despite the unusual decrees of the new priest, an evil threat preys on the town. Tragic murders have become more frequent when a few traveling warriors stop here for the night. Will they help Cheryl’s village or destroy it? She knows better than to trust them. Years of pain and self-loathing have hardened her. To fight back the infectious curse that plagues her home, she must finally face her brutal past.
Chaste had festered, like a wound before it is lanced and drained. The infection was eating away at its roots, fearing to mar its surface.
This story is fucking daaaaaark. GDAF, even. The whole thing opens up with two seemingly innocent men being visited by a stranger who first deeply corrupts one, and then tortures the other, for seemingly no reason whatsoever. That’s just the prologue, too. So, trigger warning to anyone that can’t handle books with actual rape, implied rape, implied child abuse/murder, intense drug withdrawal, torture, murder, some more murder, and then a side of some fucking murder- you should probably skip this one. Just FYI. I know this sort of fiction isn’t for everyone, just like, say, horror movies aren’t for everyone.
I, for one, don’t mind it so much when horrible things happen in fiction. These types of stories can be rather interesting. I like a horror story that has… maybe not a ‘happy’ ending. That’s not really required. But a terrible story that has an ending that wraps things up tidily is nice. When the antagonist gets a comeuppance, it is extra nice!
In the town of Chaste, in the land of Perilisc, children are being murdered. One has just been murdered, in fact, right before five strangers come to town. These five strangers were actually really interesting, and one of the best parts of this story, in my opinion. Sob is an assassin and a thief, who has one hell of a dark history of violence and murder. Sai is a swordsman who dreams every night of the woman he loves but has never met. Ambul is a half-breed, born with malformed wings of which he is ashamed. Trevonne is a wizardess, whose magic has made her continuously exhausted. Their fearless leader Ruther, who doesn’t have too big a part in the story, is big, burly, loud, and in love with Sob.
Then there’s Cheryl. Her mother and father were the religious leaders of the town, but after they are brutally murdered in front of her, leading to a solitary life full of endless violence, she has no fucks left to give Cor-lyn-ber, the god of this world. It seems that since Cheryl’s parents died, an evil god and his minions have moved into this town with the sole purpose of just fucking up everyone’s lives through manipulation and corruption.
I really liked how you slowly learn more and more about each character as the story went on. The writing was pretty damn good, and kept me immersed in the story. Best of all, though, I liked Sob and Sai a lot. They had interesting backstories. Almost everyone did, with an air of mystery around them, but I found that I liked Sob and Sai’s personalities quite a lot. The ending was satisfying, in a way, if a little underwhelming, if I’m being honest.
This one, I have to say, very nearly hit my limit of ‘bad shit happens to the protagonists’ though. That’s my criticism of it. Cheryl is pretty universally loved among the townfolk, but still gets beaten and raped on the regular and nobody seems to give a shit, despite at least one person (one of her co-workers at the *very* least) knowing the situation. One of the strangers gets captured and brutally tortured, but we never actually get an actual reason why, aside from the excuse that was given to the townfolk to justify such torture to them. The main antagonist seemingly randomly does absolutely terrible stuff but not for any tangible reason aside from ‘that’s how I worship my evil god’. Oh, of course. That *is* how one worships an evil god. You both do and make others do random horrible shit with no real rhyme or reason. Okay, got it, I guess, but there is a line where believability stops and it becomes random horror for shock value rather than plot progression and this one toes that line quite hard at times. Even the antagonist himself hits a limit once or twice where shit is just too much for him. I get that this is pretty much evil incarnate vs the town of Chaste and its residents (specifically Cheryl), but there isn’t a whole lot of reason for it. It’s just evil… because evil. It’s really down to the good god vs. the evil god, because the good god is trying to save the town inhabited by evil. There is something there that is luring the evil god. Evil god is just evil… because evil.
All told, I liked this one more than I disliked it. As I said, it’s very dark, and sometimes almost over-the-top with it, but it was also well written and hard to put down at times. I did actually end up caring what happened to some of the characters. I would recommend it to people who like stories where the protagonists aren’t always going to win… or if they are going to win, it’ll be a hell of an evil time getting there. Because evil.