Reviewed by Valeria Rinaudo
“I barely made it home, my body heavy and numb from the poison running through my veins. Then again I had been stabbed, scratched and punched in so many places, I wished the poison were stronger”: this is how The Beastslayer begins.
It begins with Niteria, the heroine of the story, a thief and assassin with a complicated, twisted personality. She comes back home after a violent fight with an evil wizard and his creatures in the name of a noble quest during which something went wrong. This led to an unexpectedly fierce revenge and, of course, to unceasing and brutal fights involving vampires, evil vampire-hounds, beautiful storytellers, repugnant dungeon guards, valiant lumberjacks and more.
It is also a story about a guest with silver hair, wolf eyes, and a magnificent body covered in scars – a mysterious, arrogant, yet attractive swordsman, the beastslayer.
I was impressed by this book, with its flawless narrative and dialogues. The detailed descriptions of the space and the characters together with an informal and very personal style makes you feel there, so much that you start feeling physically exhausted and striving for a deserved rest. The Beastslayer is a powerful fantasy tale that hits all the right notes. It is dark fantasy though, a grown-up one; it reminded me of Blade Runner with its darkness floating between violence, hope, and love, of course.
The author, Linda Radwan, is able to build a fascinating world made of different lands, each of them carrying different human qualities, and to build hierarchical relationships among different beings (vampires, wizards, humans). A prologue introduces the reader to the story’s past and an extra chapter at the end of the book gives a taste to the sequel to come.
As in all good dark stories, fantasy or not, the reality is cruel and for good people life is a continuous struggle between good and evil. For those “who dare to dream” I most certainly recommend this book.
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