Release Date: 05 Mar 2019
Publisher: The Mage's Lantern LLC
Genre: Fantasy, Horror, YA
Page Count: 321
I received this book for free from NetGalley for an open and honest review.
“It seems Elisse has brought a hurricane in tow. Since he set foot here, the icy breath of the sea has begun to blow over the great sorceress New Orleans. Spits of rain threaten to conjure a storm, as if the boy, more than a human, were a dark omen of what awaits this land blessed by spirits.”Mariana Palova, The Nation of the Beasts
Originally published in Spanish, La Nación de las Bestias: El Señor del Sabbath, this book is now available in English. I don’t know Spanish to read and compare, but it appears to be well translated.
I have mixed feelings about this book. It started so strongly, and then dissolves into a whole lot of meh before picking up a bit again for the end. It was so dark and horrifying, I thought I’d found a real winner, but the level of eeriness dropped off and it became quite a slow read. That being said, I still would not like to be in Elisse’s shoes – it must be such a traumatising way to live!
Set in New Orleans, the atmosphere built up at the beginning is amazing. We delve into some voodoo and the setup of the main cast is similar to what I think of as Native American (I’m not very familiar with the culture, so apologies if I have this wrong). We also dive straight in and are introduced to the cast of characters within the first couple of chapters – hardly anyone new crops up later.
Elisse is searching for family and a way to fit into this world. From a young age he has been plagued by shadows and monsters, they follow him where he goes but never show themselves in the same place twice. At the age of 18 he has recently arrived in America, after being raised in Tibet and India, in an effort to find his father who fled Tibet leaving him in the care of a Buddhist monk when he was 3 years old. I found him to be extremely childish, behaving more like a 10 year old and lashing out if he didn’t get his own way. I understand this would probably be the characteristics of someone with the upbringing he had, but he definitely isn’t a character I overly connected with.
Although the supporting characters certainly appealed to me more and seem like they have such interesting stories, we don’t actually get to see much about them. They more just show up, have some inconsequential chats, and then poof away again for a bit. I’d love to see more of them, and with this being the first in a series I assume we will, but I needed to know a bit more than is given away in this book.
Alongside Elisse, we also read from another perspective. I won’t say much about it as all is revealed later in the book, but I really liked how these scenes were written and the change from first to second person that signalled the shift in perspective. I really hope this would be maintained in the subsequent books.
As I mention, this is the first in a series – the ending is rather abrupt and leaves you on a cliff-hanger just as the book picks up again after the slow middle. It kind of left with a “what on earth is happening now” vibe. I’d definitely be open to reading the next book if I came across it – I just don’t think I’ll be actively seeking it out.
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