So, a fantasy book from a generally unknown author and a niche publisher. Immediate question: was it worthwhile. Answer: yes.

The biggest problem is one of setting. This appears to an alternate-universe setting stuck in the Victorian era. There’s no political or geographical names that bear any resemblance to identifiable places on Earth, and there’s no map to tell yea or nay if this is meant to be an alternate Earth. On the other hand, we have Christianity, and King Arthur gets name dropped near the end. I had figured that the Mark Isles were the British Isles in general and Dumagh was Ireland, but from the ending we find out that the sun rises earlier in Dumagh than the Mark Isles, which would be the wrong way around. I’d love a map.

Calendar dates would imply this is mid-twentieth century (and it at least would be Christian Era calendar), but part of the novel is a very Victorian style romance of manners. And don’t get me wrong, unlike the above, it’s not a complaint, and frankly it does a lot to add some charm to the story.

The main story isn’t fully explained until some while into the book, and actually reading the blurb helps with getting through that portion. Short of that, it flows easily and well, and the plot is very well structured, with pretty much everything tying in to the main plot at one point or another.

A few notes: This a full Christian-mythology universe, with demons, some glimpses of Hell, and the church having power against them. Generally speaking, supernatural interference has apparently been on the wane for some time; enough that its possible to be an atheist in this universe, and more devout people have ‘that still happens?’ reactions to elements of the plot. There is a rape scene, that, some other reviews aside, doesn’t really pull punches. The victim is decidedly still dealing with the emotional wreckage of it afterwards, and the rapist isn’t forgiven. He does end up helping, for his own reasons, but the main character is appropriately thankful, but that’s as far as it goes.

At any rate, it’s a good, well paced story, with a conclusion that has all the excitement one could wish for. The conclusion has a fresh unresolved problem for the sequel but the story at hand is conclusively finished.