The Matrix doused in medieval blood!
I think Shadow Crucible is what the Matrix would be like if it were medievally more violent, with a split personality disorder and a vengeance against religion:
“You want to end up chained like they are? Look at what they have done to them, look closer!” As he shoved her toward a row of men and women she tripped, hitting the ground painfully. They cowered in fear at the unexpected noise, dropping the quills and parchments they had been holding. Estella froze in horror as she looked more closely at the prisoners. Where their eyes should have been were empty sockets, carelessly bandaged with filthy linens.”
The opening chapter got me hooked!
This is class gothic fantasy, I have a morbid fascination with seers as it goes… (seriously the first chapter just throws you right in there, empty sockets AHHHHHHHHHHHHH!) If you like an unhealthy dose of sugar in your story then this is not for you, the bitter dregs of looking at a reality burning to the ground where Estella takes us for an insane ride against a blind god and ancient deities warring over us like commodities. Hooked on that cruel blind god – makes sense to me, why do people suffer? The god of this world is wilfully blind, tearing apart religions from the inside…
Ever since I saw the Matrix where humans were harvested like lightbulbs, something about that grated my bones, and it is like this takes it to a whole new level of fucked up!
Perhaps there is something psychologically wrong with me wanting to open Pandora’s box, I understand her, open the fucking box, see what’s inside. It is like the author is tempting you to open the box to pull back the lid, never quite showing you enough to let you know what is really in there, open the damn box!
I say The Matrix doused in blood, but it is more like Penny Dreadful had sex with Lord of the Rings and cooked the bastard son!
Spoiler alert – so the story starts with Count Mikhail arriving at RedFern Manor in the dead of night, there is the alluring yet sinister ways of Estella, a witch that seems all too real, benevolent, uncaring, cynical, cunning, a ruthless heroine.
Again, this book is not for the weak hearted, the medieval characters live up to their reputation, spanning across an intricate world on two planes of existence - Templars, Kingdoms, Witches, Seers – and on the other plane Deities, Angels, Demons, Saviours, a Blind God and the Goddess.
Out of nothingness a chessboard emerged, shimmering in jet and white marble. Calling forth the creation of blindness
Estella is the lead, caught in a love triangle between Mikhail the Templar, a demon seeking redemption Antariel, with warring kingdoms seeking to possess her for their own ends.
My sight brought me too close to the throne of God, and his sight burned me every day. I shivered in endless turmoil, for I stared too far into the void and it bled my eyes, detaching me from sanity, and my madness thrived upon my gift. I had become the ideal weapon for the chessboard of the gods, and the instrument most desirable.
Estella is of the Twilit born, people whose sight is coveted by the Church, and as the sense of urgency rapidly increases to find an answer to the arrival of the Blind God in the world, an unprecedented event as he rapes and kills the mother of the forthcoming messiah. Damn it, I want to say the next part.
Estella is not an ordinary heroine, she has no interest in the love triangles, she sees the world for what it is and wants to escape this medieval matrix at any cost. I think what killed me in Penny Dreadful which I loved was this astounding protagonist in Vanessa Ives, and then just the way it ended in the third season with forgiveness. Estella does not forgive, she lets the bitterness burrow deep within and then exacts her vengeance, whether King or man. No bullshit loveshitology!
This book gripped me and I wanted more, you can tell by the verses that open the chapters that Lakomy can take you deep into a whirlpool of imagery, but for some reason she prefers to skim the surfaces at times and slow down. The anguish to tear through and find the answers got me:
For I am dead inside and out, and my heart bleeds not for heaven, neither does it twang for the master puppeteer who mocks you all..... “You worship the god of lies, whether in churches or as heretics hidden in secret covens. And you war against each other, proclaiming the other damned. But you are all lost, for the many houses of human religion are held by the string of the same master puppeteer.”
Something in the writing calls to me, tears at me, rips me through… it is devastating, sublime, poetic in its effort to make death that final destination we all herald to a known commodity. Just in case it is not already abundantly clear, this book will always have a special place on my book shelf.
The author sent me an advanced copy of this book for review.
Alicia McNab - 26/04/2017