Sunday, November 22, 2015

The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr

 I *might* be a major speculative fiction nerd... I just love a good fantasy book. I was already familiar with Patrick Carr from his book A Cast of Stones. I read it on a whim a year or so ago. The book was free on the Kindle (and still is). I decided to give it a go and was pleasantly surprised. Free Kindle books can be hit and miss, usually a lot of miss. This book was interesting and unique and caught my attention. I was excited to see his newest work The Shock of Night published by Bethany House.

The book centers around one man, Willet Dura. Willet is the king's Reeve and basically acts as a detective in his city Burnard. When he is called to the scene of the newest murder in town, his life gets infinitely more complicated. He is gifted a dying man's mysterious power. Willet's dark past and the complexities of the gift intertwine in an interesting and dangerous story.

The Darkwater forest is somehow infecting people who enter, making them unstable and downright evil. These people snap and kill with an unusual strength and speed. The man whose death Willet is investigating, Elwyn, belongs to The Vigil. The Vigil monitors the forest and those who become infected. Willet's new gift binds him to the Vigil. Willet himself was forced into the forest years ago, but survived. His memories of the place are locked away and his experience unclear. Will Willet become the member the Vigil desperately needs or will he too snap?

For the first half of this book I was absolutely captivated. There are so many mysteries and interesting twists, both internally for Dura and externally in the story. I found myself questioning who to trust and whether Dura himself was the real enemy.

Carr builds the city of Burnard around you; one really gets a sense for Willet's world. The reader comes in contact with every class of citizen from the king and nobility to the poorest street urchins. Willet himself is a natural detective and interesting main character. I thought all the character development was great. There were a lot of different characters in the book but Carr made them all come to life. The friendship developed between Willet and his guard Bolt was one of my favorite parts of the book.

There were so many small threads in the plot that were left unexplained. I had great anticipation for the second half of the book, believing that these things would eventually come together. There are perhaps a dozen instances left unexplained and not fully fleshed-out. To me the mark of a really good fantasy book is when you have all these dangling threads--- and then almost magically it seems the author weaves them back into the story one by one. Each one coming together to make the story more interesting and complex. Details that don't seem to have a purpose suddenly hold meaning.

My problem with this book is that these details are just not added back into the story. Obviously, this is the first book in a series. There is no need for the book to end on a complete note. However, I thought the book just left too much unsaid. More details of the story needed to come together and make sense. The end of the book felt rushed and unnatural. It felt like it was missing an ending and the reader was left with no resolution. I think at times this sort of ending can aid in a sense of anticipation for the next story, however this just annoyed me.

There were a few instances in the book where I had to re-read a section to understand what happened. One instance was a major plot-changer and I couldn't figure out what was going on. I just had to read on and try to piece what happened together.

Even though I found myself much more interested in the first part of the story than the last, I still enjoyed it. I know I will seek at out the next in the series when it becomes available. I really enjoy Carr's writing and I think he has grown into a great fantasy author. I never imagined when I read that free ebook ages ago that I would find a writer of such great depth.  

I received this book from Bethany House in exchange for my honest review.

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