Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Review: Scourge

Rating: 4/5
Source: Copy courtesy of the publisher! 

In a city beset by monsters, three brothers must find out who is controlling the abominations.

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.

I haven't read a book by this author before, but after spotting this on GoodReads and reading the synopsis...I had to read it. I mean....brothers....supernatural monsters...I'm envisioning Supernatural: Fantasy edition right off the bat and I wasn't very far off to be honest. 

Scourge has a lively opening and I was immediately hooked in. I wanted to know more about the world, the characters and what the brothers could do. They're undertakers sure, but they can dispel ghosts and help them cross over, and that's not all there is to the boys either. Corran is the eldest of the three, none of the boys have had a great time recently but Corran's faced a bit more tragedy than the other two. He's been going out hunting the monsters with a group of Hunters...which is kind of against the rules, but if they don't do it, who will? 

Rigan might be my favourite, he's the middle child, and he's got the totally awesome power of hearing a spirits last confession. It also turns out that he's a witch, so he spends a good portion of the book coming to terms with his power, and learning what it can do and how to use it. But ya know....Witch's are kind of frowned upon in the world of this book so it's not entirely without danger. 

Then we have Kell. Arguably, Kell is the safest of the three because he's not a Hunter nor is he a Witch. He's just the regular younger brother, with a cheeky side business going on that's not really harming anyone. He's funny and smart, but I feel like we didn't get to know him as much as the other two. I should have seen things coming to be honest, when we didn't get as much of his POV as the other two. Now, maybe I'm just salty, but I feel like his sole role in the book was to be killed off because of the monsters and guards, to then spur Corran and Rigan in to action. I was expecting big things from Kell, and from the three of them in general, and I just think it's such a shame that he was killed off and for such a stupid reason. Like I thought the way he was taken by the guards was a bit ridiculous. We already knew the monsters where bad and the Guards weren't much better and I feel like we spent a part of the book waiting around for the perfect moment to kill Kell...then killed him and then Corran and Rigan found the balls to do what they where always going to end up doing anyway. Like of all the things that happened, there was plenty to spur them on. But you know..I'm probably just salty. So never mind. 

So anyway, we get the POV of the three brothers, as well as Machison the villainous Lord Mayor who's up to no good. He's pretty much the nastiest character in the book, he schemes and plots and makes everyones lives a misery and I really couldn't wait for him to get what was coming to him. Although his paranoia was quite amusing because like....stop doing the thing if you don't want people taking revenge dude! 

As for the brothers, they where all relatable and likeable characters. They had strengths and they had flaws which just made them all the more realistic. Each brother had a different voice, different wishes and plans and so on, and their narratives wove together well. I enjoyed the switching of the POV's because it let us get to know each of them better and see different sides to them...the side they show their brothers and the other side they're hiding. The POV changes also kept the narrative moving forward and Machison's provided some light dastardly plotting. 

The world of the book is fascinating, it had a touch of the medieval to it, and there's plenty of intrigue and politics. You have the Lord Mayor and the Merchant Princes who are in charge...and then the Crown Prince that they all answer to. The Guild's have their own representatives and they're doing their own thing too. Everyone's out for themselves and out to get their rivals to get the best business and so on. There's lots of Trade agreements and pacts and such. Considering all the intricacies of the world and the politics and the plot, it's very well set up. Martin builds the world up around you easing you in to it bit by bit, and relaying information as when you need it. 

That being said...I do feel like it went on a bit too long in some places. I feel like some of the explanations about the world and the politics and such went on a little bit too long, usually in Machison's POV. I feel like we spent the first three hundred pages or so doing not all that much except meandering around the city, reading explanations that where a bit too long and waiting for the opportune moment for Kell to die, or all the lengthy explanations had to be got out of the way before Kell died. I'm not sure which. I think there where some parts that could have been cut out to make it snappier. Don't get me wrong, there where things going on. Corran and his hunting and Rigan learning to control his magic, and the tension was building up with the people of the city in general. They aren't happy with the monster situation and the evil and useless guards, which is easy to understand. But I feel like it all did go on a bit too long and we could have reached the turning point a bit sooner. Nothing significant really happened until Kell died and then everything kicked up in to high gear and moved a lot faster. 

I also felt there where a couple of repetitive moments, Rigan getting beat up by the guards...again. Kell's love interest running away in to the night with no explanation and no clue as to her whereabouts, exactly the same and not long after Rigan's love interest did. Sure I knew there was an explanation for it, but it seemed a bit too samey. My one other niggle is the whole Kell making an offering, pact type thing to protect his brothers which then immediately became redundant because Rigan and Corran made their own pact, it just added another thing to my whole 'it was pointless killing Kell' argument. 

Back to the positive stuff.....Aiden, Polly, Elinor and Trent are a good bunch of supporting characters and I'm looking forward to getting to see some more of them in the coming books! I'd like to get to know them a bit better. I can't decide if I feel like Rigan and Elinor's relationship was a bit rushed or not, so that's the only comment I'll make about that. It's not like romance is the main focus of the book anyway. 

Towards the end of the book, like I said, the pace really picked up as everything came together and fell in to place. The book wrapped up everything from this story and left one thread to carry us over to the next book, it was intriguing enough and I had enough fun reading this book for me to want to read the next one. I'm intrigued to see what's going to happen to our characters next and what part of the world of the book we'll get to see next. 

Scourge is a great blend of fantasy and the supernatural, set against an interesting backdrop and populated with relatable and realistic characters. There's some epic fight scenes and lots of blood and death, I'm not going to lie....I mean...our main characters are undertakers. It also has a sense of Supernatural about it...but you know, fantasy edition. Despite a niggle or two I had, I actually really enjoyed the book. It was fantasy and the plot had complexities to it, but even with the overly long explanations it wasn't too hard or complicated to understand. It's certainly original, and I also found it quite fun too. 

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