Monday, 12 October 2015

Hell's Horizon by Darren Shan (City Trilogy, #2) - Book Review

4.5/5 Stars

As I cycled into the wind, a cliche whistled through my thoughts, and I grinned

- Al Jeery was on the case!


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 389
Chapters: 27 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: HarperVoyager

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Praise, praise, praise!

Hell's Horizon delivers a fantastic sequel to Procession of the Dead. It's hard to categorise this trilogy, it's a mishmash of genres that Mr Shan weaves effortlessly. I'm still a little surprised by the detective-style dark fantasy this book contains.

But damn if it doesn't work.

The murky trails and cast of misfits all build a full world that spins you in circles. The City Trilogy, in my humble opinion, is definitely underrated. 

Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Al Jeery is a loyal and capable Troop: The army of legal soldiers under the command of the mighty gangster The Cardinal.
But Al's dark life is about to become even murkier.
When a friend of his is killed and he's put at the head of the investigation, enigmatic forces plot to manipulate him.
Friends are foes and foes are, well, foes.
With no one to turn to, and the stakes rising by the hour, Al needs the entirety of his wits.
Or he'll fail and die...

Plot - 4/5 Stars

One of the biggest pros of this entry is in the way Shan spins its tale. Hell's Horizon takes place around the same time Procession of the Dead does, but the stories can be read separately. The way this makes the series' world whole and real is awe-inspiring. The City Trilogy boasts a fantastically fascinating mythology, and the author conveys this perfectly in both of the books above (and likely the final entry I've yet to read). 

I can't praise it enough. The dynamics and depth of the gangster-filled world of the City really makes this story. The way this instalment elaborates on its predecessor could easily rival the best worlds in fiction. 

Then you have to include Al's journey and character, which are great. The mystery-like progression that focuses on the ritualistic murder of Al's friend makes for an exciting thriller, while the more fantasy-based elements add mounds of intrigue and suspense. There's something big on the horizon, and we catch a glimpse of that here, ensuring the reader can't help but continue on to the final book in the trilogy.

There are a couple of cons. I thought at times there were too many threads and not enough answers. It doesn't help that some of these are dragged out. Conversely, though, things fall into place well and there are fantastic twists and surprises to reward you for your perseverance. 

Pace - 4/5 Stars

Aside from the areas that are stretched out, Hell's Horizon flows with a steady, exhilarating pace that picks up in the latter half of the story as things collide together. 

Characters - 5/5 Stars

If you've started with Procession of the Dead, then get ready to welcome old friends; if you haven't, get set for a captivating cast full of shades of grey. Each member of the team holds presence in their scenes. 

Al Jeery, our bad/good moral mishmash of a main, rules the roost. He's similar to Capac, this entry's predecessor's protagonist, in the way that he's capable and conflicted. But he's not as idealistic as Capac. Al is happy where he is and doesn't need or want to rise any further. Events conspire against him though, and we're treated to a glimpse of a future where the two characters will no doubt be thrown together. 

I love Jeery's connection to Paucar Wami, the illustrious assassin we meet in the first book. Wami himself is elaborated on and has a much bigger role, which is fun as hell to read.

There's The Cardinal, still as omniscient and eccentric as always. We have the wonderful Ellen and the ambiguous Priscilla. It's a wonderful new cast with nostalgic nods to those we already know (if you're reading the books in order).

Writing - 5/5 Stars

Strong and mature, with a hint of gallows humour.

Overall - 4.5/5 Stars

Does the next entry really have to be the end?

Previous Instalment: Procession of the Dead
Next Instalment: City of the Snakes

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