This book had me fooled. It claimed to be a debut novel and yet, right from page one, the writing style showed the energy and maturity of a well-seasoned writer.
James West picked up the simplest human story, seen so many times under many guises throughout history, and fitted it inside the most amazing fantasy world I’ve ever read about. The clear description draws you right into this foreign land – you struggle though the desert, your breath catches with the dread of what’s been unleashed here, you can see the fires and feel the demons passing a little too close for comfort. You hide amongst the rocks praying to make it through alive and cover your face as you push stubbornly through the sandstorm. Your feel weary from the fights and you drag your feet, heavy with exhaustion. There is terror, there is desperation, there is the feeling that there in nowhere to hide and no one to help you and yet, in amongst all this gloomy desolation, James West finds space for hope and love and the unwavering friendship of true friends.
It is hard to describe without revealing the whole story quite how realistic this novel feels. I found it very hard, not being a seasoned fantasy reader, to ‘let go’ of the story once I had finished the book. I knew I wanted to write this review, but in order to do that I needed to get some distance. This proved harder to think than actually do. The main characters are so strong, so well thought-out, their actions and emotions so real, that you can’t help but want to live your life alongside them. It’s like you can draw some strength from theirs, like they can lend you a little of their courage and take your hand when you’re scared. They guide you through. And that is in no way limited to this fantasy world.
For me, this was a fantastic read and a very unsettling experience. And now that I’ve told the world about it, I’m going to go right back and read it all again.