The cover really does depict what’s inside, and it really is that surreal and fantastical. I’ve been a big fan of Benedict’s work for a long time, and I was very interesting to see what he was going to come up with outside of the Yarnsworld series.
This has a rather unusual beginning where the characters are transported out of their world into a realm known as the Darkstar Dimension. It’s not an intentional hop between worlds, and at first, the crew of the Narwhol has no idea how they got there.
No one has any memory of what happened, and what’s worse, is that the airship is in a free fall because the core has been drained of magic.
The setting was surreal with a dark purple “star” looming over the ship drenching everything in a dark purple hue. At first, it looked like the ship was surrounded by stars, but the crew found out that it was actually glowing fish. There are dragons bigger than cities, portals to other realms, flying skyships, knights made of glass called Flagon Knights that when shattered causes them come back bigger and more pissed off. The whole thing felt alien, surreal, and beautiful. I think the closest thing we’d have on Earth are those fluorescent jellyfish.
I did find some typos, which was surprising. There were a couple missing or duplicated punctuation marks, and sometimes where were spaces missing between words. I don’t usually find things like that in Patrick’s books, and I did buy this a while ago, so it may have been fixed by now. The pacing was alright, but the time spent with the ship in free fall at the beginning lost its tension because it was taking so long I almost thought “well, when is it going to hit something?”
I enjoyed the characters. Min is struggling to keep her crew together under extreme duress. I thought she had depth and motives that were clear, and a voice that was distinct from the rest of the characters. There also were characters that worked as foils that kept things itneresting, like Abalendu, The Incredibly Annoying (not actual title in the book).
TLDR: Surreal otherworldly type of setting. Glow in the dark fish surrounding the ship with a dark purple star that sucks away magic and casts the world in a dark purple color. A crew gets sucked into this Darkstar Dimension and has to find a way out even though their skyship is broken.
- Plot: 13.5/15
- Characters: 13/15
- World Building: 12/15
- Writing: 11/15
- Pacing: 11/15
- Originality: 14/15
- Personal Enjoyment: 9/10
Final Score: 83.5/100 or 4.5/5 stars rounded up on GR