Temper by Nicky Drayden

Posted On 3 September 2018

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temperTemper is a tricky book for me to review.  To be honest and upfront this didn’t work as well for me as Prey of Gods, Nicky Drayden’s highly creative debut fantasy novel.  Prey of Gods just blew me away and so perhaps I went into this one with unreasonably high expectations.   Anyway, not to get ahead of myself.

Why tricky?  Well, I cannot deny that Drayden has a powerful imagination.  The worlds she creates are stunning in scope and originality.  Her stories are like a breath of fresh air and in that respect Temper is a winning novel.  But, at the same time, for me, this felt very busy and in some respects the ‘thinking’ didn’t quite pan out. Basically, I had questions and I didn’t feel like answers were always forthcoming.  Maybe that’s intentional and the idea is to simply pick the book up, embrace the world and run with it.

The write up for the book tells us:

Two brothers.
Seven vices.
One demonic possession.
Can this relationship survive?

Imagine a world, an alternate South Africa, if you will, in which twins are predominantly the norm.  Split between the twins are seven vices and seven virtues.  Even with my poor mathematic skills it’s easy to see that this is never going to be an equal split between good and bad and the twins in the story Auben and Kazim share a very uneven distribution.  Auben finds himself not only the lesser twin but with six vices to handle he really has very little scope in terms of future success.  In this world twins share a very special bond even suffering from separation pains if they become too far removed from each other.  Throw a demonic possession into the mix and it looks like the twins from Temper are set to dramatically change the world in which they live.

I’m not going to elaborate too much on the plot as there are surprises in store – certainly for me anyways, I didn’t see the book going in quite the direction that it did and I found myself trying to read between the lines to figure out whether there was a message contained within.

I think the main issue I had was a certain ambivalence towards the characters.  They didn’t give me the ‘feels’ I wanted and it prevented me from becoming invested, to such an extent that I often struggled to gather the enthusiasm to pick the book back up once I’d put it down.  As with the first book I read by this author the writing is really good, the originality of the story and the world are really quite breathtaking and I got off to a good start.  The twins were unusual to read about, there was no hand holding in terms of setting and I like picking up a book where I have to hit the ground running, but, as the story went on I became less motivated and more perplexed.  This is a tale that is meant to be different and filled with other world type unusualness and with that in mind it could simply be that this was just a little too ‘unusual’ for my reading tastes.

To be honest, I really don’t enjoy negative reviews and so I’ll keep this one fairly short.  I certainly would not wish to put anyone off reading this one and I would definitely pick up more from this author.  That this one didn’t work out as well for me is, I think, simply one of those things and to be clear I didn’t dislike the book.  If this is your first Nicky Drayden book, whether or not you love this one, I strongly suggest you pick up Prey of Gods.

I received a copy courtesy of the publisher for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.