My rating: 2 of 5 stars
I received a copy of this book from the publisher, High Fever Books, and the author via netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Salem Hawley won his freedom after the war, but he still holds his scars. Now, he finds himself drawn into a new war, one unlike anything he could have imagined. The medical and scientific community are doing experiments, on the living and the dead, and when the bodies of one of Hawley’s close friend’s loved ones are taken to be used in this awful way, Hawley decides it’s time to fight back. No one protects the Black man’s graveyard, no one looks out for the loved ones who have passed on, so it is up to Hawley to make sure it stops. What he doesn’t realise is, the doctors that he is going up against are not all as they seem, they have access to a power of unimaginable strength, they are trying to take governance of this power, and not for the good of mankind. Will Hawley be able to battle against the belief that the colour of one’s skin does not dictate your intelligence and heart? And will he be able to fight against what the doctors are hoping to bring about?
I was SUPER excited when I came across this title on Netgalley. I mean, just LOOK at that cover would you? It is ridiculously eye catching and really drew me in. That’s kind of where it all stopped though. The premise of the story, once I’d read it on Netgalley, also interested me. I mean, we’re talking about a free man who holds his head up high and battles wrong doings in a world that sees him as a savage and below them simply because of the colour of his skin. We have doctors who, in the name of science and medicine, are trying to bring forth creatures that they once saw on a battlefield, not caring at all that IT COULD DESTROY THE WORLD! So you’ve got all the trimmings to make a FANTASTIC story. However, for me, it just didn’t turn out that way unfortunately. The story was good, don’t get me wrong, but I’m having trouble putting my finger on what exactly I didn’t really enjoy about it…I feel like the pacing had a lot to do with it. We have big stuff going on, and this is where I’ll also put in a trigger warning, there is graphic detail of torture (essentially) so if this is not something you can read, want to read, or you struggle reading it, this one is definitely not for you. There is especially great graphic detail into the torture and murder of women, so I want to make that very clear for those of you who are unable to read such content.
So yes, there was a lot of stuff going on…I just felt like it dragged so much. It was incredibly slow moving, and it took me over a week to read a book that has around 150 pages…so I feel like that is a testament unto itself that the pacing really needed some work. There was definite creep factor to the story which I felt was executed quite well, and I really felt for Hawley and his friend for their people’s plight and what they were trying to stop. I feel like the ostracising of people of colour is still very prevalent today, so I loved the parallels that I saw.
The character of Hawley himself seems very interesting, but to be honest I thought he would have more of a front running role…to me, he felt almost like a secondary character. The doctor, Hereford (I think), came across as the main character, in this instalment anyway. So that threw me a little because I was under the impression that we would be seeing the story through Hawley’s eyes the whole time. It’s not a massive deal, and I didn’t have great issues with it, I was just prepared to read a story that focused more on what Hawley was doing rather than what the doctors were.
I felt that this story had a very old, gothic, supernatural feel to it, which was great. I want to say lovecraftian, but I don’t think it’s quite the same. Hicks definitely knows how to execute his craft well and he shows great promise in the horror genre. I am interested to see where this series heads, as I know that we have not seen the end of the doctors and Hawley (I know that’s pretty obvious because this book is saying it is #1), so odds are I will continue with this series. I’m really hoping that I can get over the pacing and just throw myself into the story completely, therefore enjoying it more in the end. I know that I am in the minority with my rating of this story, and for that I’m sincerely glad. I’m hoping that the series can win me back with the next instalment.