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Stonehill Downs by Sarah Remy
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Stonehill Downs

by Sarah Remy

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Malachi Doyle is the King's Lord Vocent - a magus with the ability to communicate with the dead, and who relies on the assistance of the souls of the dearly departed to help him keep his kingdom safe. He is the last of his kind - highly regarded yet secretly feared by many - in his office as Royal Coroner. When he's sent to investigate a series of brutal murders in the isolated village of Stonehill Downs, he uncovers some dangerous and deadly sorcery and unleashes a killer who strikes close to home - much too close to home.

Avani is a newcomer to the Downs - one of the few survivors from the Sunken Islands - a victim of an horrifying natural disaster that swept her island home beneath the sea. Four years later, Avani is still considered an outsider living on the Downs - liked by almost everyone, yet she still values her solitude. She has innate and ancient magics of her own, and when she discovers the mutilated bodies of the first victims, she fears that the darkness which claimed them will return sometime soon. Avani's fear forces her to make an uneasy alliance with Malachi, reluctantly accompanying the eminent magus to somewhere far from home.

But Mal is distracted by the mysterious death of his mentor. Despite being present at his bedside, Mal still has his own troubling suspicions over how the the old man died. He is also haunted by his memories of the past - holding secrets within his heart that are best kept buried in his past. And Avani discovers several disturbing truths about the magus through her visions. She could free Malachi, yet first they must work together to save the kingdom from the lethal horrors that have arisen.

I really liked this story; it was a dark, action-oriented fantastic plot that I absolutely loved. Despite this being a very dark fantasy, there was still an inherently realistic element to the story that I enjoyed. Malachi and Avani are relatively similar characters, each wounded and flawed in their own ways, and unwillingly tossed together to save a kingdom that is not really their own. I give this book an A! and am eagerly awaiting the next book in the series; I want to know where the story goes from here. ( )
  rubyandthetwins | Jun 6, 2017 |
Source: Requested from Netgalley
Original Review: Old Bat's Belfry

This is a story of two souls who were tailor made for each other. Though if you were to ask them, they would vehemently disagree. One is Malachi, who is the last known magus. A man who deals with the spirits of the dead. Then there is Avani who is a refugee witch, a loner and who, as it happens, can see both ghosts and visions.

Together they must fight off a great evil. One that threatens their kingdom. But first they must discover its source.


♦ My Thoughts. Sometimes it is hard to write a review of a good book. One that is not great but one that is not horrible either.

When you loved, or hated, the book you can't wait to pour out your feelings, impressions, accolades or complaints. There is passion involved. That passion gives your words wings.

This is a good book by a talented author. In my opinion, an author worth watching, but it isn't a book that elicited much excitement for me. Instead it was a laid back sort of read. One you might chose if you are not in the mood for a complicated, multilayered Epic Fantasy.

♦ What I Liked. This story tries to be several things and while it is focused on one thing or another, it does them extremely well.

When it is focused on being character driven, the characters come to life. Worldbuilding, for the most part, is the same. When the focus is on the plot, the story is mysterious, chilling, and riveting.

♦ What I didn't like. What this story doesn't do is combine all of that wonderful focus into a seamless story. It was alot like trying to take in a panoramic view. You never know where to focus your attention. And the sad thing is, I ended up wishing for more answers than I got.

The characters were great but incomplete. I got a taste of who they were and where they came from but only a taste. Why is Malachi the last of his kind. And how did he end up with his ghostly companion. Why is Avani all alone. She survived the destruction of her homeland at an age that was too young to have completed training in her craft. However, even though there are other survivors of her race, she lives apart. What is her raven and why does it spend so much time watching over everybody but her.

I got a glimpse of their world. Enough of one that I was intrigued but only a glimpse. I wanted to know so much more. What exactly happened to Avani's homeland. How do the local religious beliefs mesh with the practice of necromancy. What are the social, economic, and cultural traditions of this civilization. What is its history. The list goes on.

It is even possible that some of the answers were there but due to the way the focus kept shifting, I lost track. Often concepts -- like religious icons for example -- need to be subtly reinforced from time to time. That way you can stay in the moment without thumbing back through the chapters trying to remember what god was mentioned where or what tenet of faith is being applied currently.

It left me feeling a bit disconnected at times.

♦ Conclusion. In a way, the fact that I wanted so much more from this story is a compliment to the author. She did create characters and a world I was interested in. The ending was every bit as surprising as I had hoped. Once it is all said and done, I look forward to reading more of her stories.

Like I said. This is an author to watch... ( )
  Mulluane | Jan 20, 2015 |
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