A Return to Blogging:
I’m back to blogging again, and honestly, it was receiving this book that was the final nudge that got me to come back. I have missed getting books in the mail… just the smell of a new book makes me smile. I missed the excitement I would get anticipating which characters would be stored in my memory for years to come, which plotlines would leave me sleepless, and which deaths would break my heart.
That said, I will not be taking on new book requests for a while, if ever. Taking review requests was both rewarding and exhausting – but since I have a newborn on the way I’m already going to be exhausted, that’s for sure. I don’t need to add to it. I hope to read a few books I really love each month and post about them here. So, instead of posting 3-4 times a week it’s likely going to be 3-4 times a month. It’s a big reduction in productivity but hopefully, the quality and excitement levels will go up as I get to spend more time with each review.
I will be using TBRindr to pick out some books from indie authors and hopefully give them a signal boost. I likely won’t even be contacting the authors to let them know I want the book as most of them are already on Kindle Unlimited and are free for me anyway.
I don’t foresee myself posting about books that don’t get over a 75/100 on my grading scale. Reviews take time. A lot of time. Some of them can take 8 or so hours to write once all the editing and tweaking is all said and done. Taking 6-8 hours of my week to write about a book I only sort of enjoyed, (or didn’t enjoy at all), is time I don’t have. So, if you’re like “does Esme fucking love EVERYTHING she reads?” No, I don’t, but I just don’t feel like expending effort on complaining about books I didn’t click with.
I’m coming back in baby steps.
Onto the review…
Sin Eater by Mike Shel
A year has passed since Auric Manteo descended into the haunted depths of a Djao ruin to return a lethal artifact, only to face down a bloodthirsty, imprisoned god. Now his daughter Agnes comes to bring him back to the capital with promises of hidden secrets finally revealed.
But the city decays, poisonous disorder is rife, and whispered prophecy foretells of cataclysm and doom. Summoned by their no-longer human queen, Auric and Agnes are commanded to carry out an impossible task, one that can be accomplished only with the mysterious blade Szaa’da’shaela, gifted to Auric on a lunatic’s whim.
Can Auric and his daughter survive a journey fraught with blood, menace, and madness? And can they pay the price demanded by a being every bit as evil as the Aching God?
I loved the opening chapter of this book, the character “The Old Man” was engrossing within a few pages and I immediately wanted more page time from his perspective. It’s not unheard of for me to get attached to a character that quickly, but it’s not common either – I tend to take multiple chapters to warm up to new characters while in this case, it took a couple pages.
The prose was a step up from the last book in my humble opinion, and that’s not to say I thought it was subpar in the last book. The writing was both elegant but to the point, which is just my kind of writing. I like getting descriptions of the world, I enjoy knowing what characters look like – but it’s cumbersome to me when it’s overdone and the descriptions feel more akin to page filler material than pertinent information the reader needs to know. It’s a fine line to walk and I find that Mike Shel danced down the line.
This was a darker book, there are many instances where I was like “well shit, that sucks”. But, it’s the world itself and happenstances that are dark, not the characters themselves. The main characters are generally well-intentioned and have fairly strong moral character – juxtaposed with the darkness of the world I found this to be a very balanced approach to grimdark writing. If the main characters had been more on the villainous side of things, or a darker shade of grey, it may have turned me off.
I really enjoyed the multi-POV style to this book, in the last installment I very much so enjoyed Auric as our main character but seeing the world from multiple perspectives really expanded things for me. As a general statement, I do better with multi-POV stories just because if I’m not clicking with the one and only character POV it makes connecting with the rest of the story difficult. If there are too many POV’s then the story loses cohesion and can become jumbled. I think three was a good choice here and each character definitely had their own voice, their own style, their own arc, and different reasons why I found them intriguing. I also enjoyed them all equally which was great. If I’m favoring one character over another then I tend to feel like the chapters featuring my non-favored characters are dragging and I’m just waiting for my favorite character to come back again. I was so happy that The Old Man got more page time after his initial introduction – he was an awesome addition to this story by providing mystery and intrigue. Agnes was also a highlight for me, I feel she was a well rounded and in-depth character that didn’t rely on ‘woman warrior’ to define her as a person. The side characters also had a certain depth to them. The more I got to know Kennah and the other side characters the more I grew attached to them, which is nice.
For being a 570-page book I read through this incredibly fast. When it was mailed to me I was like “woah, doorstopper material” but I read it within a couple of days in just a few sittings. Much of that had to do with pacing. You knew where two of the characters arcs were going and had a general idea of what their goals were (Auric and Agnes) – but the third character provided mystery. This presented two opposing reasons to compel a reader to keep going, how are they going to get this done and who/why is this Old Man intermixed in the story? The ending was quite something as well, following in the footsteps of the first book this sequel ends with a bang.
If I was going to have any complaints about the book it would be there was mild repetition in a few spots (we hear several times how an older couple loved Auric’s daughter like a granddaughter in two back to back chapters), and on occasion, the dialogue didn’t totally work for me. The dialogue worked when it felt more modern or had a bit of dialect to it that sounded a bit southern. The instances where the dialogue didn’t gel with me were when characters spoke in ‘old English’ (“thou art” “doth thou” etc). There was a scene where the main characters came across an acting troupe and the actors spoke in old English and that type of language just doesn’t settle well with me no matter what book it is, not just this one. That being said, these are very minor hiccups for me, and more importantly, they are subjective – this stuff may or may not bother other readers in the slightest.
All in all, this was a fantastic book. It was a step up from the author’s first installment and that’s what I like seeing from ‘new’ authors – it gives me great hope for anything else Mike Shel releases. I can’t wait to pick it up again on audio and get the Simon Vance experience. I’m a huge sucker for his narrations and this audio releases on 10/22.
For people who enjoy:
- D&D adventures
- Multi pov
- old school mysterious magic
- religious cults
- darker books
- epic fantasy
- Plot: 12.5/15
- Characters: 13.5/15
- World-Building: 14/15
- Writing: 12.5/15
- Pacing: 12/15
- Originality: 12/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 85.5/100 = 8.5/10 = 5 Stars on GR