While not normally a fan of revenge fiction, I picked up an electronic copy of this story out of curiosity. Firstly, a warning, this is not a book to read to your kids in order to lull them to sleep. This is a charged, sexualized vision that feels like a cross between an erotic fantasy and a therapeutic release.
The adventure, if you will, takes place in a world, not unlike our own. While the level of technology is exactly that of the modern day, there is something else hiding in the background, magic. Casters and Mages abound in this universe, it’s a land where there are councils to guide spell casters, and basic warding is taught in elementary schools. Together, tech and wonder have merged together and formed a society that feels both familiar, and alien.
I would like to see more stories from this world. It feels so comfortable to be in this land, and Bill “Greyflank” Kieffer forms the society through subtle hints, not blocked and clunky explanations. It feels natural to me, and I easily accepted the universe without issue.
What I had trouble doing, though, was liking the main characters as people. Right from the start, it’s established that the “hero” is not a nice guy. He’s rough, abusive, a bully, and a drunkard who’s always spoiling for a fight. He’s the kind of guy who I would love to see get his comeuppance by being knocked senseless into a truck of manure, a la Biff Tannen, of Back to the Future fame. The author’s decision to make him the primary character is part of the reason why the story is so interesting. Despite my lack of love for the narrator, I found myself wondering what was going to happen, and had no trouble continuing.
The supporting character is a socially awkward coward. A sniveling, no-back-bone type, or so I thought, just remember, appearances can be deceiving.
The plot starts simple enough, the primary character’s wife has left him, for the umpteenth time, so he goes out to drown his frustration, and in the process, runs into the target of his teenage years’ angst. Then comes the part that really made me squirm, male-on-male sexual assault, except, it’s not. What follows is at times uncomfortable abuse, followed by moments of pity, and, from time to time, genuine affection, all while the audience is left to wondering, who is really using who?
I must admit, I had some difficulty skirting around some of the harsher moments, but that’s just my prudish nature. In the end, I had trouble putting my e-book down and even found myself reading it at the dinner table when I was too near the conclusion.
In the end, I did become involved in the characters all the same, and although I don’t feel too bad for any of them, they still managed to evoke different emotions within me.
The length of the book is short. If I’d had it in hard-copy I would probably have binge-read it all at once.
So, would I read it again? Although I’m not one for the abuse, the world itself drew me in, and I did become invested in the characters. I might just pick it up again and read it through to see if there were hints and clues that I missed, and that says a lot for a story that is out of my usual genre of hopeful sci-fi or post-apocalyptic fiction. If you like revenge drama’s, are okay with graphic language, don’t mind a little man-on. . .-manthing action, and want to enjoy a story placed in a world not too far from our own, then yes, pick this up, definitely.
I did, and I’m not regretting it.