Tuesday, December 1, 2015
The Shock of Night, by Patrick Carr
Enter The Darkwater Saga's first installment, The Shock of Night.
The Book (from Amazon)
When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.
Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it's as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he's been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that's not supposed to exist.
Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he's pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world--a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive.
I've loved Patrick Carr's fantasy from page one of A Cast of Stones. He offered something new, rich, original in a crowded genre. I've read A Cast of Stones three times now, and it's just as magical every time. When I saw his newest release, I couldn't wait to see what he had to offer. He's grown immensely as a writer. The geography, history, religion, and plotting of his new land are all much more detailed but still within grasp of reader comprehension. His characterization is just as good as before--adding darker and grittier elements, not afraid to plumb the depths of deepest pain and fear.
Willet Dura is one of those heroes I love. He's manly without being fake, gruff, or gaggingly handsome. He's real. I feel like I've met him on the street a hundred times. He has impetuous bravery and laugh-out-loud sarcasm, but also a tender love for Lady Gail and a pure loyalty to his king. I think one of the things I loved most about him was his compassion for the unfortunate. He took time to help urchins and prostitutes and street children every way he could, not despising or sending charity, but allowing himself to be known as their staunch friend and comrade. It's something Patrick Carr shows rather than tells--and it's the most beautiful picture of helping the hungry and clothing the naked and visiting those in prison.
Bolt makes a great sidekick. His sarcasm and Dura's together--I just love it. Every character deserves to be there, and makes this story so rich and wonderful (I love character-driven stories) but Bolt and Dura especially captured my warmest friendship. It's also neat that Bolt is an older bodyguard, and that adds a special dimension to his character.
In fact, Patrick's talent for characterization was almost too good in places. I was so traumatized gripping this book and skimming through the pages that I considered quitting almost every day. Willet Dura faces some of the fears that have always frightened me most to think about. The "gift" he is given of seeing into the darkness of other's hearts, and the peril he is under of having his own mind broken by his own weakness or the indifferent distrust of his allies kept me wondering if I could (or should) handle the tension.
This book deals with heavy subjects. Our own dark places. Other's dark places. Boundaries that should and should not be crossed. The evil of ambition. The deep, deep pain of being sacrificed by your friends for a greater cause. But in this tension, I see growth and hope, and by the last quarter of the book, I was able to relax enough to be able to enjoy myself. I even have a few conjectures on what the counterbalance of the darkness will hopefully be later on in the series. Far be it from me to say 'tone it down'. There's too much toned down literature. The Shock of Night is a heady draught, but it's high quality, and it expands my heart and strength and love in a way that couldn't happen without the pain of wrestling with the pages.
By Divine Right
I can't wait to see what Carr has in store for this series, and I highly recommend checking him out. He brings quality craftsmanship to the world of literature. Willet has my firm sympathies as a reader. I tremble at what's in store for him, but I wouldn't miss finding out for all the scrolls in the Merum cathedral.
*I received a free copy of this book from Bethany House publishers in exchange for an honest review.*