Book Review: A Dead Place Calls – John White


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Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: January 6th 2014
Pages: 57
Find It On: Goodreads. Amazon. 
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An exciting little novella that packs a punch! Everything you could want from an epic fantasy story.

Finch is a heretic, he has been imprisoned for his beliefs and assumes he will live out the remainder of his days in a jail cell. But Finch is given an option, embark on a quest with a deserter named Garnett, and help him find his brother – a little boy who sees visions of the future, and will predict the end of all days. Complete this task and Finch will obtain his freedom. But the road to finding the child is fraught with enemies, and just how trustworthy is the man he is travelling with?

Woah! I feel like I’ve just read a full length novel, I need a cup of tea and a lie down after so much going on in one book! This story is terrific, it’s full of adventure and excitement, something epic fantasy fans will absolutely love! It’s a very smooth, fast-paced story – you’re never bored, but nor is it running too fast. It fits a whole lot into a short amount of pages.

The world building was incredibly detailed, and I think that’s something that’s hard to convey in a novella. The story gives you enough background information to make it feel real, but also gives hints and little bits of outside info that leave you wanting to know more about the world you’re reading in. In the traditional high fantasy vein there are loads of different characters: The king’s guard, slavers, scary barbarian/cannibals and eerie shadow dwarfs who live in the mountains. There’s something for everybody!

I also felt that the characters were well written, they felt very realistic. I really liked Finch, he holds to his beliefs, he does what is right even if it not the most favourable option. He sings, is openly distrustful and isn’t all that great in a fight. I was completely suspicious of Garnett the whole way through, and I think that’s a mark of excellent writing – to never be able to tell exactly what a character is up to, if you guess straight away it often makes the story feel tedious, but that definitely wasn’t the case with A Dead Place Calls.

My only issue with this story is the size. I am a very curious person so immediately I wanted to know more. There was mention of a war – who is fighting? Why are the fighting? Houses have fallen and I was very much intrigued with Finch’s religion and would love to know more behind it. There was easily enough in this story to fit into a much longer book, so perhaps there is the option of another novella to come. Overall though it is a really enjoyable read, an adventurous, exciting fantasy book that I just devoured!

Looking for something similar? Try: The Lies of Locke Lamora or Those Above. 

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