The Cardinal is the City and the City is The Cardinal.
His rule is absolute.
Book Links: Goodreads
Just when you don't think you can be surprised anymore...
Along comes Darren Shan!
Going into Procession of the Dead, I expected something along the lines of Shan's adult story (written under the name of Darren Dash), The Evil And The Pure, the blurb just gives me those kind of vibes. Well, while this entry into the author's catalogue shares the dark and gritty elements The Evil And The Pure has, it's a journey all of its own.
There's dollops of tantalising thrills, mounds of mesmerising mystery, and shavings of fascinating fantasy.
All of which, leave you hungry for more.
Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)
Capac Raimi has only one dream when arriving in the City.
To be a gangster, and the best one at that.
Intelligent, shrouded in mystery and eager, the sky is the limit.
Then he crosses paths with the practically omniscient Cardinal, and the dream takes a darker tone.
The Cardinal owns all and has a particular interest in Capac.
Whose life will be rocked by the revelations of a world he doesn't understand...
Plot - 5/5 Stars
The blurb is cleverly deceptive. It piques your interest, has your predictive mind flying forward in one direction, only to laugh at you for running the wrong way. One thing you'll instantly notice is just how surreal everything comes across. There's a definite dreamlike quality that plays with the reader's perceptions. Then the fantasy elements kick in, and along with the thrills, mystery and action, it's a potent cocktail of a gangsters journey to the top.
If that's not enough, The Cardinal and the City's empire-like intricacy creates a world full of depth. The world-building parts of this novel are superb and completely engrossing. You're as addicted as the protagonist, desperate to understand the shifty, shadowy path before you.
On that note, I love the way the author plays with morality. If you're looking for a book with a hero and a villain, move on, because it's more like varying shades of villain. The seedy underbelly of the City is a dark place to be, and it's a place Capac willingly joins, sure of his goals. There really are no 'good guys', no matter how close some of the gangsters come.
After the rip-roaring ride of a gangster in a fantastical world, the twists, turns and sheer surprises coalesce into a superb revelatory finale. All of your questions receive answers, and the outcome of the story delights and disturbs.
Pace - 5/5 Stars
There's a brilliant balance within Procession of the Dead.
The thrills are tight; the mystery mind-twisting; and the action offsets the exposition in a perfect blend of a story that will take you no longer than a few hours.
Characters - 5/5 Stars
A morality mishmash of evil characters. The cast is one the best elements of this novel, because despite their less than lovely actions, you're helpless to like and care for them. Everyone is strong, unique and adds their own little something to the story. The potential for a bunch of people like the kind you find here is palpable. So many stories just waiting to be told.
Focusing on the main two, Capac and The Cardinal, they could honestly be the only two characters in the entire story and it'd still be a 5 star read.
Capac Raimi is a solid lead. His lust to be a renowned and powerful gangster is scarily infectious. His intelligence, intuitiveness and capable attitude with any type of person do wonders for his growth. While he's certainly definable, Shan leaves a certain blankness to him that lets the reader slip into his role.
The Cardinal is a severe mystery. He's the god of the City, and the aura given to him is eccentric and lethal.
Writing - 5/5 Stars
Shan's writing is top-notch. Period.
Overall - 5/5 Stars
An amazing story from start to finish. It ends in a way you don't expect, but it's wholly, and evilly, satisfying.
I can't wait to dive into the rest of the trilogy.
Next Instalment: Hell's Horizon
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