SPFBO 7 Review: The Child of Chaos by Glen Dahlgren

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This opens with a prologue featuring a woman who’s gone nearly insane due to her “Longing”. In this world, the Gods have given humanity Gifts, and those Gifts reside in their respective temples throughout the land. These temples are dedicated to specific Gods, and those people that the Gods want for their Temples are given a Longing to belong to the Church. People with said Longing will cross continents, drown themselves, and go totally batshit if they aren’t given access to the Gift. Those blessed by the Gods get certain powers, a Longing to the Temple of Charity will grant people the ability to heal if you’re accepted into the temple… while those drawn to the Temple of War will become strengthened, you get the picture.

This woman has been drawn to the God of Chaos…. this is considered to be evil and is shunned by society. She ends up trapped, sealed in a block of ice with no hopes of getting released which closes out the prologue.

Chapter One opens with the prologue lady’s two kids trying to take a trial at the Temple of Charity. They don’t know what happened to their mom, just that she disappeared one day and no one has any idea what happened. The temple of Charity is known for their benevolent acts and are known for their healing prowess.

The daughter, Myra, has an incredibly strong Longing for Charity and 100% belongs there, she’s sweet and kind and reliable/loyal. The sister is named Myra and she’s instantly accepted into the Temple of Charity. Her arc may become more relevant in later books, she was kind of put on the backburner until the end of the story when she became more involved with the story.

The son, Galen, doesn’t have a normal Longing. He knows he feels something, but he doesn’t quite know what it is because the direction he’s being pulled towards is not in the same direction as any other known temples. He ignores it since it’s not that strong of a pull… at first. The reader knows this is the Longing for Chaos, but he doesn’t know that at the start. He’s definitely heavily featured throughout the book and will be pivotal in other installments I would expect.

Galen has a incorporeal voice in his head. It’s not quite like having a known source of having a voice in your head – possession, telepathic friend, enchanted whatever. This is the voice of a character in a story his mother used to tell him as a kid. Galen loves stories and has a huge imagination, he draws all the time but is left confused when he subconsciously draws the same three symbols embedded in all of his artwork. His father’s a fisherman as was his father and his father before him and so on and so forth. His father wants him to become a fisherman too, and thinks that he’s wasting his time trying to become a priest. He also thinks that his wife left them instead of thinking something bad happened to her. Which seems kind of odd since we’re lead to believe she was a good wife and mother. It seems to be a rather shallow way think of your spouse, I wasn’t a big fan of the father figure in this one.

There’s a really, really fucked up storyline that involves the twin’s cousin and keeps this book firmly in the grimdark territory. There’s something called the Temple of Evil and it’s used as a big prison for people who’ve broken laws badly enough to deserve to be sent somewhere that no one returns from. To me this seems like an extreme way to deal with criminals, but again, grimdark book. The people sent there get turned into slaves and are fixed with slave collars… the collars aren’t normal, though. Their throats are slit before the collar is put on, and the collar seals it shut. If the collar comes off they bleed to death.

The man in charge of the Temple of Evil has lost his mind and wants to steal all the Gifts from the other Temples and become the most powerful priest on the planet. He’s honestly one of my bigger nitpicks in the book because he’s too over the top for my tastes. He does get a fucked up backstory which explain some aspects of why he is the way he is… so there are motivations and reasonings behind his cruelty, but it’s still just so extreme.

This book was labeled as YA by a few reviews, and yes it’s a coming of age story with younger characters, but honestly this book didn’t feel YA to me for a bunch of reasons. There are a lot of brutal deaths, bitter endings, tragic endings… there’s domestic violence, violence towards animals, torture etc. It was pretty long at almost 400 pages, and there were a ton of POVs. But, who knows, I’m terrible at genre definitions.

The writing was okay. The dialogue worked for me most of the time, but there were a few instances where it felt a little off. The narrative prose was fairly utilitarian without a lot of flowery language which honestly just helped me forget I was reading — there’s something to be said for that. There was a bit of info dumping from time to time which is expected considering these are kids exploring new aspects to life transitioning into adulthood, but as anyone who follows my reviews knows — I really hate info dumps lol.

The pacing was even and the plot concise, there wasn’t any meandering or bloated/unnecessary scenes. It’s also pretty short, so all the scenes were necessary and moved the plot forward. It’s also a self contained story and you could read it as a stand alone.

It was self narrated and I would say if you’re interested don’t let that deter you, I felt like it was well performed.

Overall, I would recommend this if you think the review sounded interesting, I finished and enjoyed my time with the book 🙂

Ratings:

  • Plot: 11/15
  • Characters: 11/15
  • World building: 11.5/15
  • Writing: 11/15
  • Pacing:12/15
  • Originaltiy: 10/15
  • Enjoyment: 7/10

Final score: 73.5/100

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