Welcome! Step inside for Day 2 of The Shock of Night blog tour. (My brief introduction to this month’s feature novel for the CSFF Blog Tour can be read here.)
Due to life-related factors, today’s entry will be equally brief. Others in the tour have delved into the writing itself and the spiritual and theological aspects of this fantasy-mystery tale, but I was struck by the inclusion of a PTSD-stricken protagonist (although such modern terminology was not used). In Carr’s previous series, the hero was an alcoholic young man who was abused since childhood — not typical fantasy fare.
In this series, the hero — Willet Dura — is a would-be priest who was sent to war, but his mind has shut out an important chunk of those experiences. Not only is part of his memory missing, he sleepwalks, and his job as one of the king’s reeves means he encounters death in many forms. In fact, he has a strange fascination with it, and he questions the dead about what they know now that they’re, well, dead.
I like that I can connect with Carr’s fictional folk. He knows that externals do not make up a man’s character, that not everything is what it seems, and that anything and anyone can change.
And they do.
Dura’s study of the dead takes a step toward the further-weird when he gains the ability to read the thoughts of the living.
I wrote yesterday that this is fantasy for grownups, but I think teens would like it, too.
And for readers who don’t want only mystery-solving or action scenes, there’s a quiet romance between Dura and Gael, a well-off young lady whose uncle is scheming up an advantageous marriage that doesn’t include Dura.
One thing that leans this story toward the grownup end of the readership is precisely that romance, and the other decisions and sacrifices that must be made. These characters aren’t teenagers in a coming-of-age tale, but are already adults who’ve been shaped by war and torment, hardship and abuse. Even allies can be at odds with one another, and pride and ignorance still cause folk to stumble, but — as a forty-something reader — it’s refreshing to encounter a fantasy yarn for readers older than sixteen. 😉
For other perspectives of The Shock of Night, visit these other stops on the blog tour:
Thomas Clayton Booher
Carol Bruce Collett
Meagan @ Blooming with Books
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Michelle R. Wood
Rebecca LuElla Miller
December 8, 2015 at 11:03 pm
Agree, agree! Excellent observations, Keanan. And I completely forgot about Willet Dura’s fascination with what the dead see. I’ve written about the disturbance in his own soul and the chaos in this world for the last two days and forgot that important element! Maybe that’s a reflection of how much there is to think about in this book!
December 9, 2015 at 11:09 pm
Yes, there did seem to be a lot of (for me) unexpected elements, and I especially enjoyed the notion of a mind vault. Very cool.
December 9, 2015 at 12:13 am
Nice review, Keanan! It hadn’t occurred to me that when he got the ability to read the minds of the living that it was the opposite of what he had always sought. Still, his fascination with the dead and what they are experiencing in eternity will raise the question in a reader’s mind … a very nice way to subtly bring in eternal issues.
December 9, 2015 at 11:17 pm
Robert, I like the obliqueness of that approach, because it often highlights the very thing it never quite states.
December 9, 2015 at 7:25 pm
Really insightful! It’s fascinating how many elements are buried in this book. Also, I too, appreciated that the romance was more aimed at adults, not in terms of graphic content, but in terms of actions.
December 9, 2015 at 11:19 pm
I enjoyed this book so much that I am puzzled why I cannot seem to find the words to write a proper, in-depth review. A fellow writer and editor mentioned tonight that he often finds it easier to discuss what’s wrong about a story than to praise what’s right, and he used his hamburger as an example: “All I say about it is that it’s good, but if there was a cockroach in it, I could talk a lot about it.” 🙂 Sad, but true.
Regardless of what happens with the romance plot thread — happiness together for these two characters, or separation — I’m looking forward to the rest of the story.
Michelle R. Wood
December 9, 2015 at 9:50 pm
Reading the prequel, I first warmed up to the protagonist when he looked into the eyes of a murdered man and asked “What do you see?” Willet’s fascination with death, his own sense of loss due to war, and his quest for justice made him a wonderfully rich character whom I found engaging and inspiring. That inspiration lay not in how he always overcame his problems or knew the right answers, but in how he doggedly kept after the truth and sought the right.
And yes: thank goodness we have a series that is obviously meant for adults but that understands “mature” does not necessarily mean “X-rated.” I plan to give it to a high school cousin to read next, as I think it’s just the kind of next step book above YA that the genre needs right now.
December 9, 2015 at 11:24 pm
I have not yet read the prequel, but will certainly download it tonight.
As for “mature”, I want to quote a famous line from The Princess Bride: “You keep using that word. I don’t think it means what you think it means.” Maturity doesn’t need an X rating — and if it does, it happens outta sight. 😉