Scar Night

Scar Night, by Alan Campbell.  I heard about this book during my last day in my Fiction Appreciation class this past semester.  Instead of a final exam in that class, we had to talk about a book that we liked that we thought the rest of the class would enjoy as well.  I talked about two different series, the Mistborn trilogy by Sanderson and the Serial Killer trilogy by Dan Wells.  Anyway, I heard about this series there, and it sounded interesting enough to go buy it, so I did.  Anyway, on with the review.

Books Stats

549 pages

Fantasy/Steampunk

1st book of the Deepgate Codex

Characters

The book centers on several different characters, the main characters are Dill, Rachel, Carnival, Devon, and Mr. Nettles (no other name is ever given to him, which was odd at times).  One of the brilliant things done in this book is that Dill and Carnival are angels, but they aren’t what we typically think of as angels.  Dill is heavily protected by the church in the book (which worships Ulcis, the god of chains) and is very immature and unsure of himself, and Carnival is a 3,000 year old angel who terrorizes much of the population of Deepgate.  Since we all have a stereotype for the word angel from our society’s background this works as they angels in this book are far different from what we expect.  Rachel is part of the Spine, an organization of assassin’s, and is sent to tutor Dill early in the book.  Devon works for the church and the city as a scientist who specializes in poisons which were used to help defend the city.  Lastly, Mr Nettles is a scavenger in the city who is trying to kill Carnival who he blames for killing his daughter.  The characters in the book were interesting and played off of each other as foils fairly well, this book focuses more on introducing all of the characters rather than developing them and sending them through extensive growth arcs, but they do go through small arcs in the story.

Setting

One of the interesting parts of this book is the setting.  Other than the fact that the angels exist, there really isn’t too much magic used in the book, it’s based more on technology which is what leads it more towards the steampunk genre as well as being part of the fantasy genre.  The city as a whole is also interesting as it hangs on huge chains over a vast abyss.  This is due to the religion of the book where the people worship Ulcis, the god of chains.

Plot

The plot begins in several different places at once.  Dill starts out being introduced to some of his duties within the church.  We explore some of the history of angels in the world through Dill’s story as well as being introduced to many of the other characters.  We are also introduced early on to Rachel, who is trying to help other members of the spine to kill Carnival, which also leads into the storyline with Mr. Nettles seeking revenge for his daughter’s death.  The plot was probably the weakest part of the book to me.  It starts out with several disparate plotlines that combine into one main plot about 1/2 through the book.  After they combine however, it splits back into 2 separate plotlines that really don’t work well together.

Enjoyment

The book had it’s high points and low points, I wasn’t tearing through the book at a breakneck pace, but I still wanted to see what happened next.  As I stated above, I think the plot was the biggest problem with the book.  The book seemed a little too ambitious for Campbell’s skill at the time of writing this (his first published novel).  The plot made sense throughout the book, but seemed forced or rushed at times, especially when it jumps around from character to character in later chapters.  There were also a few points in the book where I thought there were viewpoint errors.  It’s written in 3rd person, and was mostly a limited perspective, but had times where we’re in one person’s perspective and then get a thought that seemed like it came from another character.  There weren’t many of these, but the ones that were there were jarring.

Overall Grade

The book was far from perfect, but had a lot of interesting aspects to it.  I’m still going to read the rest of the series, so we’ll see if Campbell focuses the future books more than this one.

5/10

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