I’ve heard some palpable hype about this book, and so when it showed up on NetGalley I couldn’t resist trying it out for myself! PEER PRESSURE!
So thanks to the author, as well as Ace via NetGalley for the review copy.
It’s a dangerous thing, to choose the lesser of two evils.
The war is over, and army priest Tomas Piety finally heads home with Lieutenant Bloody Anne at his side. When he arrives in the Stink, Tomas finds that his empire of crime has been stolen from him while at war. With his gang of Pious Men, Tomas will do whatever it takes to reclaim his businesses. But when he finds himself dragged into a web of political intrigue once again, and is forced to work in secret for the sinister Queen’s Men, everything gets more complicated.
When loyalties stretch to the breaking point and violence only leads to violence, when people have run out of food, and hope, and places to hide, do not be surprised if they have also run out of mercy. As the Pious Men fight shadowy foreign infiltrators in the backstreet taverns and gambling dens of Tomas’s old life it becomes clear; the war is not over.
It is only just beginning.
I looked down for a moment and gave thanks to Our Lady of Eternal Sorrows for my victory. She hadn’t guided my hand, I knew that much. Our Lady doesn’t help. Not ever. She doesn’t answer prayers or grant boons or give a man anything at all, however hard he might pray for it. The best you can hope for from her is that she doesn’t take your life today. Maybe tomorrow, aye, but not today. That’s as good as it gets, and the rest is up to you.
Wow this book was really engaging and hard to put down!
This is the story (mostly) of Tomas Piety, who is the leader of the Pious Men, a sort of crime syndicate or gang. He, his brother and their men were conscripted into a war three years earlier and now that the war is over, and won, they’ve come back to their city to find that all their businesses are gone, the brothel is burned down, the prized racehorse killed, and the aunt that they left in charge a nun.
So Tomas, now a priest of the goddess of soldiers, a position that put him in charge of his regiment when the captain died, is going to take it all back.
But it won’t be easy, and there will certainly be shenanigans involved. Probably a little stabbing too. Just a little.
Tomas is an easy character to root for, even if he definitely isn’t necessarily a good man. He’s not inherently a bad dude, but he’ll do whatever is necessary to reach his goals. He’s morally grey, I suppose. He is often snarky, and often rather dangerous, and when he finds himself in a position where he can’t give an inch without losing face, he will not give an inch. This story is told in the first person from Tomas’ POV, in what felt like a memoir, and I really liked that. Tomas has a really strong voice, and he is really the perfect person to tell it like it is.
Some of his gang-mates are interesting as well. Bloody Anne is a good character, who is a good second to Tomas. Jochan, who is Tomas’ brother, is also an interesting character, if not particularly likable. He’s rather crazy, is Jochan. Billy the Boy was a really interesting character, who I wondered about a lot. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. Many characters here to like or to not like.
This book occasionally talks about some difficult subjects, and man, it got me right in the feels at times. Unexpectedly so. I wasn’t expecting to get overly emotional while reading a book that was more or less about a street gang. But here we are. Surprise emoting is… good emoting? 😀
There is so much delightful swearing in this one, I felt right at home, but if swearing is not your jam, then first of all why do you read my blog? >.> But most of all, probably skip this one, as it is swear-tacular. ❤
All told, I really liked this one. It was fast paced enough that I never wanted to put it down, and slow-paced enough that I wanted to read it slowly and savor it. Also that ending was just… wow.
I also have to say that with the right narrator, this book is going to be a phenomenal audiobook. I might just have to investigate that!
I’ll definitely be picking up more of McLean’s work because wooow! 5/5 stars!
Thanks again to Ace via NetGalley for the review copy. 🙂