A fantasy novel. Not billed as being the start of a series. But it is, and you swiftly realise as you get close to the end that it's not going to wrap up in the pages given, and end with lots up in the air. So be aware of that from the advance.
It runs for four hundred and ninety four pages. There are lots of unnumbered chapters, which shift between viewpoint characters. But do tell you who it is in each.
There's a map of the setting at the start.
And a cast of characters by the country they come from in the setting at the end.
It does contain some violence and a few bits of strong language.
There are five viewpoint characters:
Tash, a young girl who works as part of a pair of demon hunters. She's bait for the demons because she can run fast. They collect demon smoke. Which is illegal but in demand.
There's a Princess called Catherine. A girl subject to the whims of her very nasty brother, their father, and the latter's spymaster. She's due to enter into an arranged marriage with someone she's never met. But she has a developing attraction with:
Ambrose. A loyal guardsman of hers. And he soon finds himself in a lot of trouble.
There's also downtrodden servant March, part of a minority group from a remote area. Who wants revenge for what has happened to his people.
And Edyon. A young man who, although he hasn't realised it yet, stands at a crossroads in his life with a choice of destinies.
All of them are of course going to have their lives changed forever in the face of powerplays and conflict. But what is the secret of the smoke?
Why do we read books? Because we want a good read. And this is a good read. Which is why I really enjoyed it. It isn't a book that spends so much time scene setting that it takes a while to get going. It moves right from the off. This because it focuses on one character a chapter. It doesn't overload you with detail. And the characterisation is really good. You like Tash from the off thanks to the detail of her love for footwear. It's a good bit of characterisation and it makes her come to life instantly, and thus the first chapter really grabs you.
Although Catherine and Ambrose could be stereotypical and cliched, they are three dimensional and sympathetic from the off as well. And thus their story really carries you along. Although they do remain background characters, Catherine's maids do grab your attention in the same way as well.
March and Edyon didn't interest me quite so much from the off, but bear with those two as their stories do get come and come together very nicely.
In fact everything does in due course. Little plot details early on do become very important, as a bigger picture steadily emerges. So you can once things become clear see how clever the writing has been. Any writing that can make you care for characters and get an emotional reaction from things that happen to them is doing a good job. And this does.
As mentioned, it does end with things to be resolved. So it's good to find that the next book in the series is on the way. I look forward to it. Because I enjoyed this one so much. Well worth five stars.
- Hardcover: 512 pages
- Publisher: Penguin (General UK); 1 edition (15 May 2018)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0141388315
- ISBN-13: 978-0141388311
- Product Dimensions: 14.4 x 4.3 x 22.2 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 649 g
- Customer Reviews: 32 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 499,174 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)