Greeth by Charles LaFave
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
The world building in this novel could have been better. While it is a world set within our own, there are many elements that are unfamiliar. The reader is thrown into the story without any background knowledge and it leaves you a little confused. There is an entire culture of wizards, a ruling body called the Praesidium and wars that we learn very little about. Some knowledge is given to you in the form of flashbacks, unfortunately, they’re not specifically shown that way (for example, saying 3 years earlier or one month ago) and you start reading for a bit before you realize you’re not in the present anymore. It takes a little to adjust and could have been written more fluidly. But the flashbacks are important because they are filling in story holes and information about the world that the reader needs. While you don’t want to give the reader an info dump, when you’re creating an entirely new wizard culture with past wars, abilities and phrases it’s important to familiarize the reader with that world before throwing them headfirst into the story.
You immediately want to know – what types of powers do the wizards have? Are they all-encompassing or does each individual specialize in something like water or necromancy? Is the Praesidium in charge of all wizards around the world, or just in Japan and what exactly is the Praesidium? You encounter a few different wizards during the course of the novel, but those questions are never satisfyingly answered. The premise is unique and interesting enough to prompt the reader to want to know more. Unfortunately, the world building isn’t quite as expansive and detailed as I hoped that it would be. Locations are painted in beautifully, vivid detail and materialize in the reader’s mind even if they are unfamiliar with Japan.
Despite those concerns, I was intrigued by the story and by the time I was around 15% off the way through it I was really curious about what was going to happen. The main character had been approached by a mysterious man and offered a large sum of money if he would offer his expertise. His former girlfriend, Julie, was the more curious story as she had an unusual connection to her rapier and was potentially under attack by water wizards (who were believed to all be dead). The main character, Peter, is a wizard whose abilities have been taken away from him but must go on this harrowing journey.
** Warning: There is mature language and imagery. ** Curse words are used throughout the novel. The writing can be very gruesome and morbidly descriptive at times, so I would not recommend this book to younger (teen) readers or people who are squeamish. The author vividly describes the decomposed state of a hallucinated body a number of times, details horrifying destruction of bodies and other events that I would caution certain readers against. There is also a moment in the last few pages of the book that is a little unnecessary, in my opinion, and absolutely should not be read by teens. But that level of detail is also afforded to the people, places and events in the book which is definitely a positive overall even if it’s sometimes a little much. I would also warn you away from this book if you have a fear of insects and wish to sleep well tonight.
Overall, the book would fare better with a good editor who could cull the extraneous parts. While the plot was fascinating, some parts of the story dragged and could have been cut or shortened to help the flow of an otherwise engaging story. I would recommend this novel to fans of magic and horror, as the author seems to blend these two ideas together into his creation – Greeth. Again, I would not recommend to young adult/teen readers.
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