Review: The Shadow Crucible by T.M. Lakomy

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Pretty to the point, I think!

I’ve had this book on my kindle for an absolute age and have just never managed to get to it. It’s not that it looked bad or anything, I just had a literal mountain of books and it was nearer the summit. But, I am nearer the summit of my review requests mountain, and so here we are. 🙂

Also, I received a free copy of this book from the author in exchange for my honest review of it.

In a world where angels, demons, and gods fight over the possession of mortal souls, two conflicted pawns are ensnared in a cruel game. The enigmatic seer Estella finds herself thrown together with Count Mikhail, a dogmatic Templar dedicated to subjugating her kind. But when a corrupted cardinal and puppet king begin a systematic genocide of her people, the two become unlikely allies.

Taking humanity back to their primordial beliefs and fears, Estella confronts Mikhail’s faith by revealing the true horror of the lucrative trade in human souls. All organized religions are shops orchestrated to consume mankind. Every deity, religion, and spiritual guide has been corrupted, and each claims to have the monopoly on truth and salvation.

In a perilous game where the truth is distorted and meddling ancient deities converge to partake of the unseen battle, Estella unwittingly finds herself hunted by Lucifer. Traversing the edge of hell’s precipice, Estella and Mikhail are reduced to mere instruments. Their only means to overcome is through courting the Threefold Death, the ancient ritual of apotheosis—of man becoming God.

She laughed and held the earl’s hand as they danced beneath the great hanging chandeliers, which scintillated with the fires of a million gems. The other guests took to the dance too, but Estella took the central part and beneath her feet the amber and gold floor took life and glowed, and out of her poured wisps of dreams.

Dat prose tho. Hrrng.

This story follows Estella, who is a sort of pagan-ish seer in an alternate medieval Britain, and Mikhail, a Templar, who are both rolled together in a demonic plot hatched by Lucifer and Samael who are using the king and the church as puppets.

The real problem I’m having with reviewing it though, is that it’s really difficult for me to quantify my thoughts about this book. It was rather difficult to put down at times, and I thought it was really well written. The prose is quite nice and it describes the characters quite well. The plotline never lets up, but it does seem to skip ahead in time rather often. So, this happens, then two months later, this happens. My main problem is that I didn’t find myself rooting for either of the main characters, which I think I needed to do to really like this book.

Estella is… a confusing character. I wanted to root for her at the beginning, but her motivations change so rapidly that I found I didn’t really like her in the end. She’s being hounded by demons, one in particular, right up until she isn’t anymore. Her relationship with Mikhail is very bizarre, and often kind of maddening, and I couldn’t tell if it was so because she was being manipulated by demons, or what. I wanted to like her, but it didn’t really happen.

Mikhail is less confusing, but still not very likable at first. That being said, he is the sum of his parts. He is who he is supposed to be. He does change as a character as the book goes on, and I did feel for him, so at least there’s that.

I liked Antariel, the fallen angel. He was my favorite character. Lucifer was another character that was really well written as well, and well described. It seemed a bit weird to end up liking his character more than the main ones, because he’s kind of the bad guy (technically *the* bad guy, if you’re Christian and rather religious… uh… but if you are, you should um… probably just skip this book, lol).

The ending certainly wrapped up the events of this book while setting up definite future events (though how far in the future is sort of uncertain). I liked how it got where it was going. We see a lot of different mythologies and religious doctrine in this book, and mixing them up seemed to work alright. The Twilit realm and the Elders were interesting.

I dunno, all told, I thought it was written well enough that it kept me reading until the end, but I didn’t love it. I didn’t hate it, but I never really latched on like I do to most books that I read. It was a confusing book, to me. I honestly wish I had the same experience with this book that other reviewers of it had. Perhaps there was something about it that I missed, or something that went over my head about it. I don’t know.

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Maybe the reason I can’t hate him? 😀 I blame Vertigo.

Like I said, I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it. It’s definitely got a ton of potential, and for a debut, it’s fantastically written. It’s worth your time to give it a go. I’m certainly open to seeing what happens next. 🙂

You can see this book on goodreads here, and buy it on amazon here.

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