Firstly, it’s only fair to say that I received the novel as a giveaway at the Scarborough Fantasycon event 2016. I give this book a 3.6, which is probably unfair to the writer, because Andy is very talented, and this can be seen by his description of his characters that are villainous, gritty, and realistically portrayed—they’re as human as you can get, with weaknesses, a violent past, and multiple cracks in the outer invincible shell they project on their world. Furthermore, Remic’s Elf Rats are truly disgusting and grotesque in a nightmare sense. Remic is obviously trying for a brooding, horror style mood, which he projects successfully with his dark characters and the gruesomeness of his fighting scenes, and his writing style is further enhanced by sexual scenes—we need more of this in fantasy novels, for I don’t see why our protagonists should not be fully developed: surely they have urges and animal instincts like the rest of us?
Remic also makes free use of swearing, again to add realism, though this is not a tool writers should pick, unless it suits their style. I enjoyed the descriptions of Mola and his dogs, among the best in the entire novel. Also, Kiki was well rounded: we got an insight to her past, her present drive, and she continues to grow on the reader as the novel progresses. The other four Iron Wolves in Kiki’s ‘pack’ are also portrayed in omniscient mode so we get a good grasp of what makes them tick, but none of them are as endearing to the reader as Kiki—even Mola. And that is probably what justifies, for me, the rating: I didn’t find myself liking the characters enough. When the novel draws to its close, loose ends are tied up, but in a way that doesn’t leave me wondering what will happen in sequels, and that’s very important for a reader: though left satisfied with what has been offered, the feeling should abound that something is still missing, not all wrongs have been set right, that perhaps something else is waiting to happen in the next novel which must be read in order to satisfy that craving. And I agree with what some readers have said about the closing chapters feeling rushed.
However, despite all this, Remic has received excellent ratings and reviews, and obviously has managed to satisfy a growing need in readers who want more blood, gore, grit, bad characters: anti-heroes…which seems to be the new trend. So, there’s a lesson there for the rest of us. Perhaps Remic is having the last laugh.