I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
This is a fantasy novel where vazeleads – lizard people – have been banished underground for centuries by paladins. One of the young vazeleads is Krista. She’s lived as street vermin, trying to survive by stealing scraps with her friend, Darkwing. They live in a violent society, so life is difficult. Then, she’s targeted to be infected with the illness “Mental Damnation” by one of their leaders who has become crazed with the disease himself. She tries to flee, even going as far as to join a cult just to survive, but she’s eventually caught.
Somehow, after she’s infected during a ritual, she ends up back on the surface world, and the last remaining paladin finds her. Slowly she starts seeing things that no one else can, and she’s being told all sorts of different things about the disease. A ghoul she starts seeing, Malpherities, tells her about the god called the Weaver and Dreadweave Pass. Paladin believes that it’s a spiritual disease, and the doctor believes it’s an illness of the body that has stayed so similar in all of the victims because it hasn’t gone through many mutations. Her hallucinations keep getting stronger and more dangerous, even causing harm to her, and no one has a solid answer or a cure.
Before I started reading I glanced at some other reviews. One of the reviews said “It seems rushed in a lot of parts, like the author had plans to come back and fill in the rough draft, but then forgot.” Now that I’ve read it, I understand exactly what they mean. Especially in the first part of the book, there are many parts where pieces of the story are quickly summed up in a sentence or paragraph. Things that seem like you could write entire chapters about.
For example, here’s an excerpt:
Through a series of events, she met an outcast – a half-breed named Abesun exiled by the vazeleads for being half-human.
That’s it. She just suddenly met him somehow.
There were also parts where it feels like the author might have adjusted how events went later on. At one point, Krista is part of a cult, and another member tells her they’d been summoned to meet the high council.
…Saulaph was acting strange. He informed her they’d been summoned to meet the high council.
But instead of the high council, it was Danil…
That’s the scene. Later on, the same event is recounted by her friend, Darkwing. In his version, the cultists are being mass slaughtered by the guards, Krista is being forcefully taken by Saulaph, and Krista is screaming for Darkwing while cultists stop him from getting to her. None of that was mentioned when it was summed up before. I had thought that Saulaph told her that the high council wanted to see them and she simply went – maybe nervously, but willingly. There was no mention of everyone being killed by a raid or her fighting him or anything. It gives me the feeling that the author had originally glossed over some events and went back to give them more detail, but missed some parts.
There’s also infodumps, especially at the beginning, where huge portions of the text and dialogue are exposition. There were a few times where this exposition made the character’s feelings seem strange. Paladin, for example, was thinking about how they had rounded up the vazeleads hundreds of years earlier and banished them. He thinks it was justified. But then, when it goes into an explanation about what happened, it sounds very sympathetic to the vazeleads, which didn’t sync with his thought that “they deserved it”. I wasn’t sure if we were suddenly taken out of his thoughts for an infodump or if the explanation was supposed to be coming from him.
Another one was when Krista is thinking about the humans and, again, she sounds far too positive towards them for someone of her position. They banished her people, killed the dragons (who had been good to her people and freed them from slavery), slaughtered her family, she’s terrified of paladins and other humans, yet she thinks this:
It was depressing to hear that the humans now fought one another after they had banded together and brought an end to the dragons.
Along with some text that came before, this sounds far too much like describing the humans as the heroes of the situation rather than being horrified that they had murdered the dragons. It sounds like how a human would describe the situation, not how a vazelead should.
So, does that mean this is a bad book? No, actually. There’s a lot of solid and creative ideas. I liked the explanation for why the Weaver needed blood. I liked that the book makes you wonder exactly what Krista is suffering from. There are signs that she’s just hallucinating, like when she sees Malpherities pound the stone wall and create cracks in it, and then she turns up with heavily damaged hands. It makes you wonder if she caused all the damage and her mind is making him up.
On the other hand, there’s also signs that point in the other direction, like when Malpherities reads something while Krista is very poor at reading, so it’s an something she would have trouble doing herself.
It’s a colorful, fleshed out world, even if there are spots that are rushed. Krista can be weak, but she’s not so bad that I dislike her. She still tries to be positive, she still takes some actions on her own. The romance is weak (you can see who the love interests will be a mile away), but I did like how Darkwing handled his. He openly admitted that he wasn’t sure if he just felt that way because the other girl reminded him of Krista, instead of hiding it.
There are also some lovely illustrations in the book, at the end of some chapters. It’s formatted nicely and looks great.
People who are sensitive about rape may not want to read. It’s not shown, but it is brought up rather suddenly, and then its mentioned again several times after that.
Anyone interested in a fantasy with some dark aspects may enjoy this. Rather than “bad”, it feels “unfinished” at parts, and is still overall enjoyable. I’m also confused about the order of this series. I see in spots that “Dream” is “volume 2” of the series. In another it’s “part 1” and “Fusion” is “part 2”. I didn’t feel like I needed to read another book before reading this one, but I’m not sure if there’s something else that comes before it.
I give it a 7/10.