01/05/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Drollerie Press. 242 page e-book. Price: $ 6.95 (US). ASIN: B0024NP3LW.
check out website: www.drolleriepress.com and www.WitchEmber.com
For fans of John Lawson, 'Sorrow' is the highly anticipated third novel in his 'Witch Ember' series. (Haven't heard about John Lawson yet? Read the very flattering reviews on Amazon and you'll be adding another couple of titles to your wish list.) The news is all good for fans and neophytes alike. Although unmistakably set in the world so lovingly created by John Lawson in 'Witch Ember' and 'The Raven', 'Sorrow' is a standalone novel which serves as both a fine introduction and compelling adventure for existing fans.
The stories of several characters intertwine here, thickening the plot. Firstly we have Phindol, a misfortunate traveller with a single-minded mission: to return home with his prize, the Splinter, a fearsome weapon few can wield without causing irreparable damage to their own person. Next we have Lord Ash, who is named many things, but is principally here in the role of investigator as an arch-bishop has been murdered. He's not the first in a chain of horrific assassinations, perpetrated by our third and most intriguing character, Sorrow.
Lord Ash's investigation provides few leads and he is distracted by another house-guest, Faina, a girl on the cusp of adulthood who has captured the interest and hearts of our cast of principle characters. Lord Ash becomes almost as obsessed with her circumstances as those of the crimes he hopes to solve before Sorrow can kill again.
This story, a fully fleshed and tightly plotted thriller dances between the questions of church, faith, magic, human relationships and darker desires. Just like any good 'detective' novel, just when you think you know who the killer is, the plot twists and you are presented with another possibility. The back stories of the lead characters are intriguing enough to pique your interest, allowing these folks to mingle and interact in a most realistic way. The writing is superb, enhancing the story, adding dialect and distinct flavour to characters voices.
My only complaint. I think the identity of Sorrow is revealed a little too quickly. The story doesn't lose too much suspense as a result, but Lord Ash's reasoning isn't really put to too hard a test because we already know the solution to the mystery. The ending, however, is shocking and wholly unexpected and nicely sets up a situation I'd love to see explored in further 'Witch Ember' novels.
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