Watchers of the Evenfall by Joe Field — SPFBO 9 REVIEW

Posted by

I very much so enjoyed the opening to this. It starts with the resurrection of the main character, Hazel after she drowned or something. Some mad-sorcerer/necromancer type person took her body and reanimated her, and the thing of it is, is that she’s a new kind of undead. As she’s gaining consciousness he’s just sitting there marveling about how she has certain characteristics from various sorts of undead, liches, zombies, revenant, draugher, wights, etc, but that she doesn’t fall under any one particular thing.

Anyway, things go badly for this guy as what he was doing was illegal and she was released from custody. The beginning definitely had me interested to keep going, it had a comedic overtone to it in that the necromancer was utterly inept at what he was doing and his apprehension made me chuckle. After Hazel was rescued from this necromancer-wannabe I was surprised by how civil society treated her all things considered. They don’t lock her up and experiment on her themselves, and after they do some voluntary poking and prodding to see WTF she is, they then try and help her set up her new life. They give her options, and one of them was just to return to her old family and go back to the life she had before.

I find the concept of her character intriguing. Since her resurrection she has deadened emotions. The prospect of “going home” doesn’t have any kind of appeal to her the way you’d think it would as she reflects she had a good family life and childhood. She doesn’t care one way or the other about many things, including what was to be done with her. I think this kind of character a difficult one to write but if it’s done convincingly and consistently it can be a really interesting.

So, instead of going home she ends up in this rag-tag group of outcasts that have been tasked as a kind of magical investigator group. There’s a vampire, a werewolf, a zombie, a dark elf, and a warlock I think — it’s basically one of those found-family type things with a younger coming-of-age character. I believe when she died she was like 16-17. The group has been pulled together by a Grim named Garo, and he’s in charge of this “unique branch of law enforcement” and he basically sets them to taking down the baddies of the city.

There’s a lot of classic fantasy tropes and themes throughout this book, and there is a ton of world building. It got a little info dumpy at points, though, and although I can overlook it a time or two after a while it starts to bog me down when it’s placed into dialogue for long stretches. I did like the concepts and ideas behind them though. For anyone who likes a lot of different kinds of classifications of races, like how there are different kinds of undead in this world there appear to be many sub classifications of other races, like vampires can be broken down into different kinds of vampires and so there’s a lot to explore and a lot of depth in that way. I also enjoy how the magic system here can be dangerous if misused and can lead to exploding warlocks.

Ultimately this was a cut due to some quibbles I have with exposition and dialogue but it wasn’t a bad read at all and would appeal to those who enjoy coming of age, group of friends, mysteries, crime/the watch, and lots and lots of world building!