Before we get into the review, we should talk first about Sarah Chorn. Sarah is an author, editor, blogger, reviewer and editor at Grimdark Magazine. I don't know how she finds time in the day.
I wasn't quite sure to what to expect with Seraphina's Lament. The over looks like a dark fantasy and grimdark mix with a touch of horror. That's pretty much what it is, but it managed to have me invested in the characters and world in ways that doesn't happen too often. The story revolves around a group of characters who live in a world of oppression and struggle from a government that controls their lives and livelihoods. I don't want to say too much about this part of the story because it's something that unravels as you read, but you can feel the oppressive nature of this government and it's control over some of our characters. The odds are stacked against them and it's just hard to enough to stay alive. There is little hope at times. In the darkest of times you'll find glimpses of humanity, people doing their small part knowing in the big picture it's futile but still refusing to bend.
Sarah's writing style is very lyrical and poetic. I found myself writing down lines from the book because they were so well constructed and beautiful, sometimes even laughing during a really troubling scene because the word choices were just so clever.
When I was about halfway through this book, author and friend P.L. Stuart mentioned this book was as dark as Michael R. Fletcher's Beyond Redemption. At the time I didn't think it was that dark, but after finishing I can agree it's on par with that world in having you feel the hopelessness the characters feel. There is one death in particular that really got to me. While reading it my heart was pounding because we could see this death coming for a while now but you almost become accustomed to something happening to prevent this horrible thing from happening to a character you are invested in. But I also knew Sarah wasn't going to pull any punches and the world that has already been established set the table that this isn't that kind of world. The final moments of this character was something I didn't want to read but I couldn't put it down. When it was over, I had to set the book down and walk around for a few minutes.
There are different character arcs that we follow, but we spend enough time with each one that switching back and fourth didn't bother me. When we switch POV's too fast and too often I have difficulty being invested, but that wasn't the case here. The arcs all come together at some point and everything becomes clear when they do. The conclusion was very satisfying and left me feeling like I just read a story bigger than what I thought I was reading, left me with questions I didn't expect. This is one of my favorite books of the year, it will easily make my top 10 or even 5.
If you're a fan of dark fantasy, grimdark, fantasy or horror you should give Saraphina's Lament a try. It's available on Kindle Unlimited and fairly short for a fantasy book, about 344 pages.