Fantasy with a difference, this novel, set in a world of witchcraft, is remarkable for its language and surprising use of logic. The story is told through the first person point of view of an aspirant witch caught up in a civil war among her sisters. There is the usual fantasy ingredient, essential to my mind, of good versus evil, but this is modified by the clever characterisation that depicts the good witches as flawed. No one here is perfect. Though the evil witch who leads the slaughter is wicked beyond description in her search for…No, that would be a spoiler.
Regarding the characters, I found them all, mostly women, to be utterly credible in terms of their personalities even though their actual existence is, of course, entirely fanciful. They are drawn with consistency and made real by their desires, hopes, dreams and mistakes. Interestingly, I forgot this book had been written by a male author as I was so immersed in the world described by the female protagonist that she became very ‘real’ to me.
There were some passages of narrative that were perhaps a little too long. But in general the pacing was good. The nature of the language in certain passages may have some readers reaching for their dictionaries, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing! More power to vocabulary, I say.
As a story, it held my interest and I definitely cared what happened to the protagonists. There was, maybe, a little less emotion than some scenes deserved, though anger was well expressed throughout where appropriate. I did find the use of current expletives a little odd: generally, works of fantasy employ either old fashioned swear words or invent their own. But that’s a minor point.
I read this book over a longer period than I would normally expect because I was engaged in preparing a science fiction novel for my publisher and the deadline was fast approaching. That I was able to contrast the fantasy world with my own scientifically based world of the future formed a useful break from that concentration.
Having not read a book similar to this, I can’t compare it with another. But I can say I enjoyed it and I’m sure many readers of fantasy will discover this is a good read. It isn’t a book that fits easily into a subgenre, and that suits me fine. I prefer books that bend or stretch the rules.
This book came to me as a free copy via my website.