*I received an ecopy of this book via StoryOrigin. This has not influenced my review.*
When the authors classified this as dark fantasy, they were really not kidding! This was definitely dark. What one of these characters went through was horrendously awful, both physically and mentally. The other character struggled with guilt and regret and grief and blamed himself for awful things that happened to people he cared about. There was also a lot of gory, gruesome stuff described in graphic detail. The story was not entirely without hope though. There are still dangers to come, I’m sure, but this book ended on a relatively high note.
There was a solid story and world-building. There was a magic system involving demons, hunters, and mages. There were some action-filled and magic-filled fight scenes, which I admittedly wasn’t always super into, but you’ll probably enjoy them if you are into fight scenes.
But as much action and world-building as there was, this was still a book that stayed very close to the two main characters, focused on their feelings and wants and struggles. I still need to get to know them a bit more before forming a strong connection with them, but this was a good start. They were believable, and Kyran and Barrett were both likeable and easy to feel for. Kyran was solemn, stoic, quiet, and had a hard time trusting others, but good-hearted and willing to risk himself to help people in danger. (This book will appeal to anyone who likes that trope of a man with a hard outer shell being a softie for a child he finds himself unexpectedly caring for.) Barrett was struggling with grief and guilt and maybe a drinking problem, but he was friendly, always compassionate and understanding toward Kyran, and also wanting to protect people. And some of the side characters were interesting for their grayness, how they weren’t exactly likeable, but I couldn’t quite dislike them either since they did do some good.
This is a great book for anyone who is looking for queer rep that isn’t focused on romance. There seemed to be a hint of potential future romance, and I’m curious to see how the relationship between Kyran and Barrett will continue to progress, but nothing has happened yet.
There was also disability rep. *SPOILER* Kyran lost a leg, and so far there was no mention of fixing it with magic or anything, so it looks like the disability might be here to stay. *END SPOILER*
A few extra things potential readers might like to know… I saw a review that made me think the book might have head-hopping, but I didn’t notice any, just two separate POVs. I’ve also seen some reviews that mention this feels like two books, but I felt it all went together and made sense as one book. Not saying anyone is wrong! Just offering my opinion. There’s also lots of Scottish speak/accent (or similar, since this is set in a fantasy world) in the text.
Overall, this was a solid start to a dark fantasy series with demons and mages and magic, and I’d like to get to know these characters more!
Trigger/Content Warnings: *SPOILER* Graphic, violent rape scene. Other graphic and gory violence. Sort of torture. Vomiting. *END SPOILER*
*Rating: 3.5 Stars // Read Date: 2022 // Format: Ebook via TTS*
Anyone who likes dark high fantasy, queer rep that doesn't mostly focus on romance, magic-filled fight scenes, demons, and magic.