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Saturday 10 January 2015

Masters of Blood and Bone, Craig Saunders

Review by Eli Adelholm

I really did not know what I was expecting when I requested this book from Netgalley – it certainly was not what I expected – but I loved it! I do have to admit I am a bit out of my comfort zone with this one. It has fantasy elements (there’s a wizard and all!) but truly it has more of a horror feel about it.

Set in present day England, it starts out very innocently with a fat man reading a book on a bench – and then it gets a whole lot of crazy.

The Element of Surprise

Masters of Blood and Bone, which is scheduled for publishing on February 3rd 2015, is my first encounter with author Craig Saunders and not a bad one at that. He writes in a very light and fluid style, each sentence leading up to the next, building suspense and drama just by the use of wording and phrasing.

This book is borne by the element of surprise. Aristotle once wrote that “the secret to humour is surprise”, and that is probably why this was such a fun read in addition to being a completely unpredictable journey. For me, every twist and turn in this book took me by surprise, throwing me off my feet. I didn’t know what to expect when I dived into it, and I never got that sense of knowing what the hell was going on until the very last chapter.

That is what I enjoyed most about the book; you had to think about it. It is not a straightforward story, where everything is directly explained. Some things you have to figure out for yourself.

A Cast of Crazy Characters

I especially loved the character Holland, who is a bit of an unusual hero; a fat man, revelling in his destructive lifestyle, a mortal who has a calm much greater than any of the immortals he is up against. He is a man who simply doesn't give a fuck.

“A man stands before a God, stripped bare, he’s either comfortable with himself or he can try for modest. Holland didn’t give a shit. He wasn’t modest. He was just cold.”

There is no doubt that the real strength of this book is in the characters. It is a small but intriguing cast; a fat mortal man, his immortal daughter, a rather stupid God, an insane wizard and a most unusual book. It does make for one of the most curious reads I have ever experienced.

A Humorous Horror Story?

I think my main problem with Masters of Blood and Bone was that it lacked the feeling of consequence. A giant war was waged across the world and whole nations were eradicated in a mad God’s quest. And yet, at no point do we get a feeling of exactly how bad it is.

It is more of a humorous read than a hardcore horror story. Which is both a quality and a fault. I loved the humour, but I am not sure how well it worked in the context of the story. It had a strangely happy ending for such a dire story.

Also, I thought that sometimes the horror parts were not really horrifying enough. There were some really macabre moments in there, but there were also times where things got taken a little too lightly. Especially when it came to Holland; his indestructible calm did seem a bit too exaggerated at times. He was the mortal one after all, yet he seemed to take things almost indifferently at times.

Source: Acquired as an Advance Review Copy through Netgalley.

IBR rating: ★★★

Recommendation: This might not be the book of the year, but I would still recommend it to anyone up for a quick and interesting read full of surprises.

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Item Reviewed: Masters of Blood and Bone, Craig Saunders Rating: 5 Reviewed By: Richard Saar
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