Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Shock of Night: Review

Willet Dura was going to be a priest. Then the war happened, and he became a soldier instead. Now he's ostensibly a noble, but he's also the king's reeve, in charge of sorting out Bunard's dirty laundry in the poor quarter.

Meanwhile an evil from abroad has crept into the city, spreading like a plague among all the different classes of Bunard's society. As reeve, Willet has to be on the scene, which puts him on an accidental collision course with an ancient, deadly secret--a secret that will change the way he sees the world.

Welcome to the world of The Darkwater Saga.

I introduced By Shock of Night briefly in my last post for the CSFF blog tour, but now it's time to do a more thorough review. Since this story is so closely tied up with its prequel novella, and since I haven't reviewed that story yet, I'm going to conflate the two books just slightly in this review--without giving any spoilers, if I can avoid that.

First of all: if you're going to read this series (and I recommend you do), start by reading the novella By Divine Right. You also don't necessarily need the novella to know what's going on in The Shock of Night, but it does help a lot to understand the cultural context for the story. Once you've read the novella, though, go ahead and skip over the first chapter or two of the novel. Those chapters show up at the end of the novella, so you won't miss anything and you'll avoid a small bit of jarring repetition.

Combined, the two books are a good story--a bit grim in places between a slew of mysterious, bloody attacks and Willet's work in the street's of the poor quarter. Carr paints a realistic setting, and fun isn't exactly the right word to describe these books, but I enjoyed them.

I'll admit, I was a little concerned at first. After reading just By Divine Right, Willet's character felt a lot like Errol Stone's character in Carr's previous series (A Cast of Stones, et al.). The two characters are a similar type--one not too different from G. A. Henty's typecast heroes if you are familiar with that author--but the similarities didn't bother me as much once the story got started. I also strongly object to the way Willet is set up to win his lady-love (even if she doesn't mind). It looks like there could be an interesting plot twist coming up with that, though, and I'm waiting to see how that plays out.

Apart from those issues, the story offers plenty of vim and excitement to balance out the negatives.

As with Carr's previous series, I loved the amount of world-building and general cultural development in this new world. There doesn't seem to be much throwaway material, just a lot of interconnecting details about the special 'gifts' and the caste system they've created, about the neighboring countries, past wars, and the overall unrest in society at court, among the merchants, and in the poor quarter where Willet Dura spends much of his time.

[Edit: In writing this post and the previous tour post at the same time, I neglected to mention in either that I received a review copy of The Shock of Night from the publisher in conjunction with the CSSF blog tour. My apologies for the oversight.]

Monday, December 7, 2015

Shock of Night: Blog Tour

Willet Dura is a sleepwalker--but only when someone has been murdered in Bunard. It's an unnerving trait, to say the least. Even that trait, though, is not nearly as unnerving as the rare (and unheard of) gift he receives from one of the murdered men.

Welcome back to another Christian Science Fiction and Fantasy blog tour!
This month, the group is featuring The Shock of Night, the first book in Patrick Carr's new Darkwater Series. I really enjoyed Carr's previous series with A Cast of Stones, The Hero's Lot, and A Draw of Kings (reviews here, here, and here), so I was excited to find out that he had another novella available, leading into this new series.

That novella, By Divine Right, sets the stage for the main story by introducing the complicated social system in Bunard. In this world, some people have special gifts or skills that set them apart from the others in their trade. The gifts can be passed down from generation to generation, and over time, they have created a caste system of haves and have-nots. The purer the gift, the greater a person's ability, and the more influence he holds, whether as a leader among the street orphans or as the king himself.

Stealing someone's gift is illegal, of course, but illegal never stops some people from trying--and that's were Willet comes in. As an assistant reeve, it's his job to notice things--like the fact that several of the most gifted have died recently without passing on their gifts to any known heir.

That's just the background to the story, though. I'm writing another post with my review for the story overall. Meanwhile, you can find The Shock Of Night on Amazon here, the free novella prequel By Divine Right here, and more information about Patrick Carr and his books here.

The other tour participants will be posting reviews and commentary through Wednesday, so be sure to check back a couple times and see what they have to say.

Thomas Clayton Booher
Keanan Brand
Beckie Burnham
Carol Bruce Collett
Carol Gehringer
Victor Gentile
Rani Grant
Rebekah Gyger
Bruce Hennigan
Janeen Ippolito
Carol Keen
Rebekah Loper
Jennette Mbewe
Shannon McDermott
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Joan Nienhuis
Audrey Sauble
Chawna Schroeder
Jessica Thomas
Robert Treskillard
Shane Werlinger
Phyllis Wheeler
Nicole White

[Edit: In writing this post and the other tour post at the same time, I neglected to mention in either that I received a review copy of The Shock of Night from the publisher in conjunction with the CSSF blog tour. My apologies for the oversight.]