Cryptozoology on steroids.
This book laughs at conventions, does everything I hate, and then pulls it off with a cavalier attitude that reminds me there is no set formula for writing a book.
Paternus is bold. It doesn’t care what you expect or what you’re looking for, and I love novels that stride into the room with a confidence that lets everyone know: ‘No, that IS how it’s going to be. Get used to it.’ There is no pandering here. Below are some broken conventions that were hard to hurdle at first, but eventually became endearing:
1. It’s not written in past tense. At first this is weird weird weird, especially as Dyrk slips from consciousness to consciousness mid-page. By the end it is invigorating, allowing him to tell all perspectives at the same time, without forcing an artificial stopping point where the point of view shifts. Therefore there is less repetition than a typical multi-POV because what’s beheld is beheld.
2. If has lots of info dumps. At first you’re wondering why you are reading an ancient history of some of the different monsters that show up (and there are lots! Also, he is careful not to ALWAYS explain their backstory, just in pertinent situations), but eventually these morsels become the most delicious part of the book, with my favourite part to read actually being a CALM between action scenes wherein characters parse out some understanding as to what’s going on. When Ashton builds such mystique into the major players, their backstories become both critical and some of the best reading.
3. Parts of it are like a YA. One scene early on had me half-barf from cheese, but then that was BEFORE the major events of the story. Once Paternus pulls the ripcord there is no going back to normal. One of the greatest strengths of the writing for me was that his characters’ reactions once under fire are intense and excellently done (and damn hard to write, I’d imagine, as the events are a supernatural supernova). Once again, this contrasts my issue as Ashton turned how I read the book on its head.
4. The book has some strange scene organization. While I still think this is true having finished, I would rather read a story with enough heady content to require some back and forth than something linear. All my favourite series have lots of events happening and some careful weaving between them, so I still like that it is going there, that it trusts its reader enough to put it together – or keep key scenes in the back of their mind. I’d recommend reading it as swiftly as possible, which I didn’t do, but now wish I did.
In the end, this is a unique series with some unique writing that is sure to shake up your reading list, and even beyond the scope, and the careful crafting, and the sheer badassery – that in itself should be enough to incite a read.
Plus, it’s great to see a book where vampires and werewolves are merely fodder.