I was sent a free paperback version of this book in return for an honest review. Please note that the page numbers offered below refer to those in the 'For Review Copy' I received.
Charles Anthony: Shards of Fate: The Rising. Paperback, 359 pp. (Review copy). 290 pp. (Amazon paperback)
So many urban fantasy novels stick to the tropes. However, Anthony's Shards of Fate gives a new twist to the monster lineage tricks we see in other UF. Where other tales have left us with the angst created in the psyche of a stereotypical family or character, this text introduces us to human/monster hybrids, angel/monster hybrids, and more.
Meet Silas, Lilos, and Eleanor, all children of a powerful hybrid monster, Kamae. The family is reunited after many centuries to re-engage in an old battle with an equally powerful enemy, Terrus. With the help of Father Paul, a local priest who is sympathetic to immortals, the siblings work together to not only bring their father up to speed on 21st century doings but stand at his side to fight a recently unleashed legion of Wraiths who are terrorizing Los Angeles.
The story is engaging and leaves the reader wanting to know more about this family. There are a few cliffhangers:
- Will the Catholic Church keep its promise to exonerate Father Paul and support Kamae's cause?
- Is Silas' beloved Margarette alive, or has she been turned into something horrible and immortal?
- Where is Terrus and what will his next move be?
The Rising is the first book in a four-book series that will keep a reader captivated and wanting to know more about archangels, succubi, vampires, and all the creatures that develop from the intermingling that is hinted at in this text. For example, Anthony does a very good job introducing Azrael, the gender-neutral angel of death as well as the other interesting members of this large family of undead.Cons:Maybe I'm just old school but I struggled a bit to get into the rhythm of the writing. Firstly, the book is in present tense. I have only recently been writing my own flash fiction in present tense but have not read longer works offered this way. It is sometimes difficult in shorter works to maintain consistent tense, but in the case of Shards, there are issues throughout that can be off-putting.Secondly (and this critique is from someone who also writes fiction and whose day job involves assessing academic writing at a doctoral level), the text needs a hard and heavy dose of editing. Here are a couple of examples of the type of linguistic and syntax issues that appear throughout:
A feeling of concern washed over him, as he watched the street below. Watching as Agent Vaughn ran out of the building and onto the sidewalk. (p. 27)
Eleanor howls at Kamae, grabbing a nearby vase and hurling it at him. Her father spins around quickly catching the vase in his hand and sets it down, completely unharmed, as Eleanor turns on her heel to leave."I do care, my dearest daughter." Kamae says finally, setting the goblet down on a nearby table, making his way towards her slowly. (p. 270)
There are spelling glitches (note the use of 'break' for 'brake' on p. 294 as an example) as well that editing would have cleaned up before printing.Summary:For a first novel, Anthony could have a strong piece with Shards. If you are one who notices grammatical issues and so forth as you read, I hope you can suspend them to give this text a bit of a go. It may be tough for you, but try to get with the characters and story line.Despite the examples you see above, I wanted to keep reading and as I write this review, I am bleary-eyed -- I should have stopped reading at least two hours ago but wanted to know what was going to happen next! I found myself captivated anyway. I was somewhat let down by the stop point since I expected something shocking or slightly revealing that would lead into the second book. Nonetheless, I would welcome the opportunity to review the rest of the series, but only if the issues mentioned here are addressed prior to publication.