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Dispatches from Terabithia

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Scar Night (Deepgate Codex, Book 1) - Alan Campbell In a city suspended over the void by chains of steel, angels hunt in the night…

The decaying city of Deepgate hangs suspended over the abyss by a mass of chains. It is ruled by a theocracy supported by the mythology of a god who will eventually return with a host of dead souls to kill his brother and save the world. The reality is somewhat darker, and this gritty fantasy is as blood-soaked as it is compelling.

The story starts as a dark mystery, attempting to find a soul thief in the city who murders innocents and bleeds them dry. Every eye is aimed at a mad angel named Carnival who stalks the city streets once a month for a victim to sustain herself, but the murders just don’t fit her pattern.

I’ve read – or attempted to read – this book twice. Both times, I’ve ended up quitting halfway through. I really loved the worldbuilding – this world is easily one of the most unique I’ve ever experienced, but also deeply flawed. The one thing I couldn’t get past in this book was, “Why?” Why on earth did these guys suspend their city over a giant pit? Where do the chains connect to? Why not build on the edge and just kick the dead over? I just kept yearning for an explanation, any explanation at all, no matter what it was, and it was a need that was never fulfilled.

I loved some of the characters – Dill, the innocent, hapless angel who has been brought up by the church to be an armed defender of the church but who spends most of his time pretending to be his ancestor, an angel who saved the world. I loved the story (and the backstory) of Deepgate’s resident poisoner. I appreciated the conflicted character of the head of the church, who is protecting a secret that would throw the entire world into question. I really appreciated some of the elements of steampunk that were occasionally included – the zeppelins, the war with a distant enemy fought with poisons and gas, the decaying city with parts that occasionally fell into the deeps, the scroungers… And I really liked elements of the story itself – betrayal, a social mythology built on a lie, and a lie that’s about to bite back… But somehow the execution fell a little flat.

If you’re up for a truly unique, gritty and bloody read, this is definitely a good book. But in a lot of ways, I think this would work better as a tv series, a movie, or a video game, instead of a novel.