Author: Kelley Armstrong
Publisher: Atom (UK)
It’s taken me a while to get myself in gear and actually read this book. I purchased it probably about a year ago, purely on the basis that Kelley Armstrong is one of my favourite authors, and I like to keep up to date with all her work. Having said that, at 22 I knew this book wasn’t aimed at someone my age. As my star rating reflects, this book didn’t capture me nearly as much as Armstrong’s adult fiction, however, it was by no means a disappointing read.
Twins, Moria and Ashyn, are the Keeper and Seeker of their town. Each year, the girls must quite the enraged souls of the damned. To do so, the Seeker – Ashyn – must venture into the Forest of the Dead, a place where the worst criminals in the empire are exiled to. It is a feared place, where men go to die, and those that somehow survive are said to become infected by a plague that inhabits the forest.
Only this year, something has changed, and the souls of the forest will not be silenced. The sisters are faced with a terrifying evil that threatens their court. Accompanied by a thief with unknown loyalties and a worrier with a dark past, they travel across the wastes to get help from the neighbouring kingdom, only to be faced with terrors believed only to exist in children’s stories.
The writing is, as I expected, excellent. Armstrong knows how to tell a good story, and it is actually extremely scary at times. The forest is a great setting for horror, and there are some particularly gruesome scenes and terrifying supernatural encounters. The twins are two very different characters, so if you find you’re not find of one, you’ll have something to like in the other. Having said that, they both have redeeming qualities, and interact differently with the other characters. Moria is feisty, full of attitude, and always ready for a fight. Ashyn, on the other hand, is gentle, shy and hidden in her sister’s shadow.
The storyline is predictable at points, but if you don’t take it too seriously, it’s an enjoyable read. There is already a second instalment, ‘Empire of Night’, which has received remarkably good reviews, and the third in the trilogy has been confirmed. Although this wasn’t my favourite book, I would happily read the next to find out what happens after the cliffhanger ending.