a feat of conjuring
It's been a long enjoyable journey reading this book. Only the first half was posted when I began and I had to wait an achingly long time for the second, but it was well worth it! I'm still an eager acolyte of the Phil Tyler books (check those out if you haven't) but this may be Litherland's greatest triumph of world building. You really hang out and spend time with these characters, following them through the gray (sorry, grey) atmosphere of this meticulously brush-stroked seaside village. The bitter wind, the smell of the sea, will stick with you for the duration of the read and probably long after. I don't like to give much away in terms of plot points in my reviews, but if you like your villains to be so complex they become chillingly humane, then this is the book for you. I started out thinking: these antagonists are so arch they seem to be pure evil. But Litherland turned that presumption on its head. This is a story about human pain, about (purely metaphorical?) ghosts, about the bonds of family and what it can do the human soul when those bonds are absent. There are so many characters, and I swear the majority of them have arcs that are both independent and interwoven. It's almost a magic trick what Barry does, thinking you're cruising at warp speed through a plot-driven page turner, only to reflect and realize that personality is what propels this book forward, the psychology and agency of its characters. Given the time, and despite its length, I easily could have devoured this book in just a few sittings, and I look forward to doing just that when I'm finally able to procure a hard copy.
Read the story now