Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book for the purpose of review from storycartel.com; this will in no way affect my objectivity in the review, but it’s best to point these things out.
Soul Stealer is a book that caught my interest right away, and by that I mean the coverart. You know the saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, I’m quite bad at following this rule, and thankfully this book has a gorgeous cover.
But we’re not here to talk about the coverart, we’re here to talk about the book. And I’m happy to say I was hooked right away; the humorous writing style combined with a dark fantasy setting leads to an extremely enjoyable read that I blew through in two days.
However, that’s not to say it was perfect, and I like to go a bit in depth with my reviews of things, so before I get into what I liked too much, let’s talk about the few things I didn’t like first!
Number 1 on my list of complaints would have to be the overuse of certain narrative style choices. I can tell it was intentional, but a few of them bother me a bit in a rather nitpicky way. Nothing about them is a dealbreaker, but the book could have flowed a tad smoother without them.
These narrative choices are a slightly rambling, repetitive inner monologue, and an overuse of short sentence fragments.
I love using sentence fragments in my own writing.
But they get annoying.
If you keep using them.
All the time.
It breaks the flow and makes things hard to read, when most of them could be done much simpler, especially the shorter fragment sections that could have easily been one line with a semicolon.
And the sometimes repetitive nature of the narrative can grate on a mind a bit; having read four different versions of the same thoughts about the main character’s house in the opening, I was starting to get a little tired of it.
Another problem I have is a slight overuse of ‘fancy’ words, such as mayhap or perchance. I get that this is a medieval fantasy setting, but their use often feels more tacked on than anything else to me, and almost any time they come up a more modern variant of the word would fit much better.
And please, do not use perchance twice on the same page. It’s too uncommonly used a word in modern English to not look really out of place when overused, and frankly is something that I would have removed.
However, this is a minor issue overall, and I found the book highly enjoyable.
The narrative, while a bit flawed at times in the ways I mentioned above, still managed to remain highly engaging, and the comedic bent to it really helps the book stand out. The main character Saedeus in particular, is an outstanding character.
Disregard whatever you’re imagining in terms of fantasy novel heroes, Saedeus is not them. His often downright pathetic attempts at being heroic in the first half of the book are highly entertaining, and his companions, a sentient pet rock with no dialog but somehow a charming personality, and Alric, the hero you would expect to be the main character, are entirely in a support role of the story.
And those are essentially the only characters, at least the only ones who ever matter. Saedeus never joins a merry band of adventurers, there is no forced romantic subplot, nothing you’d expect in a traditional fantasy novel.
And that’s fantastic.
I have no real comments on the story; it’s engaging and manages to be original enough for a guy like me who basically only reads fantasy. I approve of the ending; it was exactly my kind of conclusive but still open ending, good stuff.
I would recommend it. At only three bucks on Kindle, it’s definitely worth checking out if you’re looking for something slightly different from your fantasy stories, so long as the slight flaws in an otherwise interesting narrative don’t bother you too much; they certainly didn’t stop me from reading it.
Also Soul Stealer: Legacy of the Blade is a really cool title; this is totally unimportant, but damn if it isn’t.