Plot: Monsters are real. They live in the shadows, luring young boys away from their homes to
serve the Whisper King. Their purpose? To become monsters themselves, trained as warriors and taking on new forms.
David Kinder resisted the shadows for so long he is special when he gives in and allows himself to be taken. But his training provides him with companions and a feeling of belonging. To rise in the ranks of his fellow monsters, David must become the perfect soldier and deny anything that makes him human. Some things are harder to let go of than others.
Quote: `When I tell you there are monsters, then you can be certain there are monsters. It’s not some metaphor for society, or some fancy literary way of sharing my feelings.`
Opinion: I had no idea what I was letting myself in for with this book. This is the first dark fantasy I have read and I wasn’t sure whether it would get too dark for my liking. But although the beginning annoyed me for reasons I will mention later, I ended up gripped and enjoying the tale.
The narration style instantly had me hooked with this book. It is set after events have happened, so although the narrator is telling his own story, it is with a detached air of someone who is almost bemused by what has befallen him. It works and makes David’s character likeable from the start. With slight detours along the way and addressing the reader directly, the narration provides amusement, a light-hearted break from the darkness of events.
David is a strongly developed character. From a boy to a monster to a man, he connects with the audience in such a way that you want him to survive the trials he must go through. The more of his monster – Cuthach – he becomes, the more his humanity reveals his vulnerabilities. All the characters play their part, but their purpose feels as if they are purely there to help progress David rather than having any true story of their own. It works though – you engage with them just enough to care who lives and who dies.
The reason the book irritated me was the language. During the first half, there is a lot of swearing and crude language. It felt over-done – like the narrator was trying to show off – and when one considers the child is only supposed to be eight, it did not feel natural. As David ages, this actually tones down and adds to the story rather than proving to be a distraction. While I am not offended by crude language, it has to earn its place like any other word in a novel.
Once the language settled down, I became engrossed with the story and gripped to find out what the end result was going to be. I don’t know how it compares to other dark fantasy books, but I enjoyed it enough to seek out more from this genre and author.