Friday, 1 September 2017

Book Review - Nascent Shadow by Matthew S. Cox

Brooklyn Amari knows she's different. From making a guys head explode at the tender age of ten, to surviving a house fire at her family home with no explanation, she's known there's something a little strange about herself. During a routine night shift as a firefighter, things take a turn down a mysterious path as Brooklyn comes to learn that there may be more to her abilities than she first thought - and the ability to wield magic can lead to some rather odd promotions at work.

I was immediately drawn to the concept of this. The ideas behind the story are great, and not your stereotypical urban fantasy. Brooklyn is more of an antihero, described as a demon - she reminded me of Hellboy, with the matching antipathy for the world. I liked that she never shied away from showing how much she really didn't particularly want to save the world, or anyone really. It was a refreshing change from the usual protagonist in these sorts of novels.

However, I did have major issues with quite a few things in this book. There wasn't enough world building for me. At certain points, particularly in the first half of the novel, various characters describe various 'eccentricities' seen in their world (such as ovens driven by crystals, the classification of magic taught in school etc.) without much explanation. Nothing is greatly developed, and details like this are skimmed over. More time spent explaining the world would have helped to gain a greater understanding of the plot and the type of environment these characters were living in.

The characters themselves, especially Brooklyn, were also lacking in any kind of emotional depth. There are some pretty tense scenes that occur throughout the novel, but it felt like there wasn't much emotion behind them. Everything is described clinically, almost as if it's a third person narrative within a first person role, and also tended to bounce around with a lot of information thrown at us quickly. A pause for breadth, with some description of how the characters were really feeling, would have helped.

Brooklyn also just seems to accept all of her new abilities without question, and displays no emotions, as if she isn't really bothered. I'm sure this is a reflection of her 'laissez faire' personality, but it grated on me personally, and meant that I ended up not really caring either.

The concept for this was good, but fell a little short in execution.

- 3 Stars

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