Author: Gelo R. Fleisher
Read Type: Indie Author
You can purchase a copy of this book from Amazon UK, Amazon US, B&N and Smashwords
You can find out more about the author on his blog
Bolen is a thief, plying his trade under the spires of an ancient and sprawling city. Worried that he's growing too old, Bolen has lined up a risky job, just to prove that he can still pull one off.
Tonight, he's going to break into a nobleman's vault and help himself to its contents. What he doesn't know is that inside is the key to a secret as old as the city itself.
Kings have killed for it, demons have coveted it, priests have prayed for it, and in a few moments it will be in his hands. And when it is, the adventure of his life will begin.
Violence: Some, graphic
Sexual content: None
I received a free copy of this novella in return for an unbiased review
Shadowcursed is a self contained story of a city buried under tyrannical rule for so long that nobody ever questions it. Yet underneath all that, all the way to the gutters where many people are forced to merely survive hand to mouth, we see the will to live and carry on. The story is set on a bedrock of magic, with unseen mages producing magical lights for the city, but more importantly a new and dynamic myth with refreshing creatures different from the usual supernaturals in modern fiction.
Bolen, our aging point of view thief, is one such person, making just a few coppers for a hard days work, when it's legitimate. One day he gets offered a big contract, one that could set him up handsomely – if he can pull it off and survive.
Bolen soon realises just how out of shape he is, and that maybe he should have given this up some time ago, retired into handing out the assignments instead. Reading his physical struggles was wince-worthy at times, the slipping, falling and protesting joints jumping out of the page to join mine feeling much the same in the summer weather (and all I had to do was lay in bed, no wall scaling for me!).
Bolen was written interestingly, I'm unsure if this trait was the intention of the author or not but it suited his trade. Thieves need to hide, to blend in, as Bolen is often thinking about, and when he is in a conversation, or listening in on one, he almost disappears from the writing, leaving it with a feeling of vague omniscient. Normally this would be a sign of weak writing, but for him it just worked. When he was alone he had a much stronger presence.
I felt overall the descriptions in this story were vivid and in depth, really bringing the crumbling, dirt and filth encrusted city and its inhabitants to life. This was left to the back burner however when a conversation was going on, I would have like it to have been more consistent.
As the story progress and Bolen realised just how much trouble he was in the tension amped up nicely. Some scenes were lacking in explanation in why he took such a treacherous path, when there was next to no chance of it working out. This increased the tension, but also the confusion I felt. In the end there usually was an explanation, albeit one Bolen could not have known would happened, leaving, for me, a plot hole.
Overall I thought this was a very nice, stand alone novella, light in its language and an easy read. While it is self contained and tied up all the loose ends I would like to see it as a part of a series of stand alones, covering the mages we never saw, the myths of times gone by and the enormous changes the city is about to undertake.
For escapism and adventure I give this book a 4.5 out of 5. For the sake of reviewing sites I am going to forget the minutiae of issues and give it a well deserved perfect 5
As a side note there is a video game to go with the novella. I have yet to try it (if I can set it up to run with an Xbox 360 controller I will do a separate review of it), but the screenshots are gorgeous. In the meantime there is a good video of somebody playing the game if you would like a preview:
In Requiem you step into the shoes of Bolen, a thief living in a sprawling medieval city. As the game starts, your most reliable fence has just sent you an urgent note telling you to come over to his house. You have no idea what he has in store, but with the sun setting it sounds like you might be in for an interesting night.
Requiem is a companion piece to Shadowcursed (but has a totally new story) and is free for anyone to download and play.
You can find many more screenshots here, and installation instructions here. If you play it please take a second to leave the developer and author a note.