Grim Solace by Ben Galley

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Murder has always been a main-stay in Araxes, the law officials don’t put much effort into finding soul stealers since typically the victims are of the lower class or tourists … people that no one was going to miss. Now, however, some of the richer nobles are going missing and things are getting tense. Heles has been assigned the task to figure out what’s going on and to stop it. Not exactly an easy assignment.

Caltro has been kidnapped due to his skill as a locksmith/thief. He is being forced to open locked boxes, safes, vaults etc… and while he isn’t being put to work he’s locked away in a small room. His only company is a talking sword. I really like this kind of pairing, I don’t know why “the annoying character: and “the brooding type” combo just never gets old for me. The talking sword never shuts the fuck up,  he’s lived for hundreds of years and has seen some shit over the decades and he wants his involuntary roommate to hear all about it. The Widow is going to want him back, though, and his life is being turned into a game between the Widow and his captor.

Binding was addressed in the first book, but this sequel took things further and explored other ways to bind souls, both human and inhuman. I really love it when the world expands in sequels. There’s something called “dead binding” where souls are put into inanimate objects, and you get things like talking soul-blades. There’s “strange binding” where human souls are put into animal bodies… and then there are “phantoms”. Phantoms occur when you bind the souls of animals in the same way Caltro is bound and kept around as a ghost. That sort of binding went out of practice long ago since phantoms could be violent and unpredictable. It only works with larger more intelligent animals that are already familiar with humans.

I peeped some reviews for this and it looks like a lot of people qualify this as some of the darker stuff they’ve read. I guess because I found Caltro’s voice so counter to the grimness I didn’t notice it too much when reading. Looking back on it, though, there’s a good deal of torture, deaths of innocent people, and other things that definitely would have seemed much worse if the tone wasn’t broken by Caltro.

I liked that this series has had multiple points of view and that some of them are the ‘villains’ of the story. I always find those perspectives interesting as a side character – I don’t tend to jive with books that have villains as the sole voice of a book. Having characters spread out into different parts of society gives a wider view of the world itself, as well. This had just enough moving parts to keep things very interesting while not becoming too muddied or meandering.

TLDR: I really enjoyed this sequel and I think if you liked the first one you should definitely pick up the second one!

* Plot: 13/15
* Character: 13.75/15
* World Building: 14/15
* Writing: 13/15
* Pacing: 12/15
* Originality: 14/15
* Personal Enjoyment: 10/10

Final Score: 90.25/100 

Mark it TBR on GR