Monster-slaying, magic-weilding undertakers! Scourge, Gail Z Martin ARC Review (No Spoilers)

Well that was an odyssey. I do admit that attempting to read a long and complicated novel while at the same time trying to rehearse and put on a play may have been slightly overambitious on my part but even so! But, four days later, I finally ploughed my way to the end of new fantasy novel Scourge and I’m here to share my thoughts with you.

Goodreads Summary:

The city-state of Ravenwood is wealthy, powerful, and corrupt. Merchant Princes and Guild Masters wager fortunes to outmaneuver League rivals for the king’s favor and advantageous trading terms. Lord Mayor Ellor Machison wields assassins, blood witches, and forbidden magic to assure that his powerful patrons get what they want, no matter the cost.

Corran, Rigan, and Kell Valmonde are Guild Undertakers, left to run their family’s business when guards murdered their father and monsters killed their mother. Their grave magic enables them to help souls pass to the After and banish vengeful spirits. Rigan’s magic is unusually strong and enables him to hear the confessions of the dead, the secrets that would otherwise be taken to the grave.

When the toll exacted by monsters and brutal guards hits close to home and ghosts expose the hidden sins of powerful men, Corran, Rigan and Kell become targets in a deadly game and face a choice: obey the Guild, or fight back and risk everything.

Which sounds amazing right? Conceptually I love this book. Undertakers/gravediggers appeal to the little goth girl inside me and monster hunting is always welcome in my book. Equally I like the idea of three brothers all of whom have different skills, I mean one of them has magical powers which is forever welcome.

I’ll kick off with the positives: the monsters in this book are really cool. If you’re not a fan of gore (or in one instance insects) then I would steer clear because these creatures creeped the heck out of me. The scary, supernatural elements of this book are the best parts without a doubt, they’re where you find the most evocative writing and, unsurprisingly, the most action.

The division of the three brothers was also, for the most part, well handled. Did it take me a while to work out which one was which (and which one was oldest)? Indeed it did. But I lose track of characters all the time when I read so I’m not necessarily faulting the book for that. Once you’ve worked out who does what you can quite easily remember it. I liked all three of the brothers, they were well rounded characters and none of them felt to idealised or fake which was good.

But now I have to move on to the negatives which is never a nice thing to do but sometimes it is necessary. Remember these are just my opinions and you might find you feel totally different (and that’s ok!).

Firstly, for me, this book was way too long. Especially since I didn’t feel like it picked up the pace until about 60% of the way through which is a little too late for my liking. By the last chunk of the book I was really on board with the story and I was desperate to know what would happen but I found myself really struggling with the opening chapters. I think it would have been better if it had got away from the complicated trade agreements and guild discussions and really got to the action much earlier in the novel. At least that would have made me happier. You might really like descriptions of council meetings.

Secondly, I feel like there weren’t that many female characters? There are some, don’t get me wrong, there’s some lovely prospective wives and some witches too all of whom were pretty well written but they didn’t really get to do anything until the latter half of the book (again the point at which I really began to enjoy things). I get that this was a story about the three brothers but there were definitely opportunities to broaden the number of characters and include more women.

Will there ever be a time when I am satisfied with the women in a fantasy novel? Only time will tell…

I don’t think this book was conceptually bad. In fact I think it’s well worth a read if you’re willing to slog through the opening half. It just takes a bit of work which does give you that nice sense of achievement when you get to the end. I mean, the first time I read Eragon I remember it took me a good while to get into. If you like your fantasy ‘dark and supernatural’ you might really enjoy this and if you’re more used to reading longer books you’ll probably get on better with it than I did.

My rating: 3/5 stars

Scourge is being published on July 11 2017 so, if you’re intrigued, be sure to preorder your copy.

Buy the way, I received a digital advanced review copy of this book from the publisher (Solaris) via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

Is this the kind of fantasy you like to read? If so why? Let me know in the comments below and don’t forget to click that follow button if you don’t want to miss any of my future reviews!

J

You might also like:

Dragon Redeemer

Dreams and Shadows

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