Thursday, September 22, 2005
Threads of Malice
Tamara Siler Jones needed someone in my region to serve as an advance reader and hype-generator so she sent me an advanced reader copy of Threads of Malice, to be released October 25. I read her first book, Ghosts in the Snow, earlier this year. The book was a thoroughly enjoyable read--good mystery, neat concept with the ghosts (the sleuth, Dubric, is cursed with the ghosts of murder victims who haunt him until he solves the crime). Tam did a great job of keeping you constantly doubting whether or not you should ignore the obvious suspect because he was the obvious suspect. While it's the first book of a series featuring Dubric and his team, it's not a necessary read to understand the events of Threads. But it does give you an excellent introduction to the world and the characters and you've got a month to wait until the next book is released, so go read it! On to my review of Threads.
One by one, young men in the kingdom's outer reaches are vanishing into the dark. So far, two bodies have washed up on the local riverbank. But Dubric Byerly, head of security at Castle Faldorrah, soon realizes there are countless more victims... for it's his curse to be forever haunted by the ghosts of those whose deaths demand justice. Only, these latest ghosts are unlike any Dubric has ever seen – their tortured bodies bearing witness to horrors beyond imagining.
The latest to vanish is Braoin, a seventeen-year-old painter whose mother came to Dubric's aid when he most needed it. All Dubric knows is that the boy is still alive. But time is running out, and it isn't only Braoin's life hanging in the balance. If Dubric can't untangle the twisted web of clues and lies and find his way to the killer, one of his own pages will be the next to die....
This is an absolutely phenomenal book. While Ghosts is more of a forensic thriller that happens to occur in a fantasy setting, Threads is a seamless blending of the two genres for a unique and engaging read. Dubric gets away from the castle and into the common areas of his king's lands, and I think that's what really pulls the fantasy into greater relief. There's such a richness of character to the land and society that Tam describes and uses for her story. The world's magical backstory takes on a greater role and adds a gruesome and far-reaching twist to the stakes of the crime.
Tam doesn't pull any punches in this book. She doesn't gloss over any of the awful details, and she puts her characters in real danger--no one is safe. That's a hard thing to do as a writer, and something most readers really appreciate. The mystery has a couple of layers, which allows you to solve some of it before Dubric & Co get there, but leaves a lot more to be revealed than you might think. This makes for a satisfying read on many levels. Also, the characters grow and reveal more of their depth in this novel, further enhancing the reading experience.
Threads of Malice is an excellent book that weaves a page-turning mystery into a complex fantasy world populated with rich characters. Ghosts introduces Tam's unique genre blend and story, and Threads pulls you in deeper, clearly demonstrating that Tam is an author to watch and this is a series to collect and give to friends. How many times can I say "highly recommended"? Go buy Ghosts and pre-order Threads (preview Chapter 1 and Chapter 2). Now, people! :)