August : My Month in Covers

Hi everyone, hope you’ve all had a lovely August with lots of sunshine and socialising.  I’ve had a good month in terms of reading.  I’ve been a bit more focused and although I do have a few reviews yet to schedule I’m kind of on track so all good.  Plus I’ve provided my feedback on the second month of SPFBO books and chosen two books to read fully one already reviewed here and another review to follow tomorrow).  My next batch of books will be highlighted on Monday.  So, here is my month in covers:

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#SPFBO Cry Havoc (Jack Frey #1) by Mike Morris

SPFBO1

CryHavocCry Havoc was in my first batch of SPFBO books.  The feedback from that batch can be found here and Cry Havoc was the first book that I decided to fully read and at the moment is still in the running to be a potential semi finalist.

As the story begins we meet two young boys, Jack and his older brother Brendan.  They live with their mother in rather abject poverty and frequently resort to robbery in order simply to eat.  Their father is no longer around and their mother struggles to cope, seeking solace in a bottle of alcohol more often than not.  It’s easy to see that the two are going to grow up somewhat wild until fate intervenes.  Caught attempting a burglary the two are taken by the Black Dogs, a religious order of priests who learn to fight to protect Abios from invasion by their mortal enemies, the Nostros.

The Nostros are the monsters/demons of the story.  They share a number of similarities with vampires in both their eating and sleep patterns.  They have conquered the humans of the Northlands in fact Abios seems to be the only place that they don’t yet rule.  The journey across the waters makes it difficult for them as they cannot be caught outside during the hours of sunlight.

The story is told by two different characters.  Lin, a slave of the Nostros who seems to live in constant fear of either death by the hand of one of the Masters or by one of her fellow slaves.  It’s something of a dog eat dog world that the slaves live in, they spend their nights working exhausting hours for very little reward and with barely enough to eat.  Jack is the alternating POV.  In many respects he and his brother fell on their feet when they were caught stealing.  They are now fed, clothed and taught.  They have a roof over their head and a purpose – although this doesn’t stop Jack from railing against everything to begin with.

The two storylines will eventually cross paths although not for a good portion of the story when the Black Dogs become aware of an increased threat from the Nostros and are forced to take proactive measures.

I thought that Cry Havoc was a promising start to the series.  The writing was good once the author found his feet and although it did get off to something of a slow start the alternating POV chapters helped to keep the momentum going, plus the fact that I was curious about both characters also helped.

The characters themselves.  They feel like they need something more at the moment, they’ve not completely wowed me in fact I found myself liking some of the peripheral characters more – particularly during the action scenes towards the end of the book.  But, this is a first in series and without making it into a weighty tome it can be difficult to balance everything.

The world building.  This has a mediaeval feel to it in terms of modes of transport, dress and weapons – although surprisingly there are guns – which I wasn’t expecting.  I would have liked more information about the Nostros.  They felt a little under developed at this point.  They’re very unsavoury characters indeed, human lives being absolutely nothing to them, but I would have liked to feel more tension and fear whenever they entered the scene. And I think I would like a little bit more detail about this war between good vs evil.  Again, it’s that balancing act though and no doubt more information will be forthcoming in future instalments.

In terms of criticisms.  Wel, I enjoyed this but it does have a ‘first in series’ feel.  I have yet to fall in love with Jack or Lin and this lack of attachment did make me feel a little ambivalent towards their safety during the ensuing fight scenes.  That being said this certainly wasn’t a difficult read, I didn’t feel the need to DNF and it was a fairly easy page turner.

I would rate this as a 3.5 of 5 stars or 7 out of 10.

My thanks to the author for a review copy and for entering the SPFBO competition.  The above is my own opinion.