An Atomic Moo Book Review of Christopher Husberg’s New Novel!
Okay El Moochadoes, I just finished reading Duskfall (Titan Books, 2016) by author Christopher Husberg, and… I dug it. So get in a mode for magic and fantasy as I review a book about folksy elves, religious zealots, and an amnesiac pulled from icy waters only to start kicking ass across a whole continent. No, not Bourne.
So, I was only half joking about that “Bourne” comment. The book follows three main characters and begins with Knot, a man found floating in an icy lake with a few arrows sticking out of him. Knot has no memory of his past life, and is named “knot” by the elves that found him, because of his remarkable ability to… tie knots. The elves of this story have fallen on hard times, and are considered by most to be second class citizens, but Knot lives with them for awhile and even agrees to marry the daughter (Winter) of the elf that found him, which would have been great if strange men hadn’t shown up on the wedding day and started to kill everyone. During this attack Knot shows that he can do much more than tie knots, by quickly killing the attackers, and then just as quick, abandons his new elf-wife to go figure out why he’s so good at killing. When Winter learns of his leaving, she tries to follow, but on her journey she also learns she can do a type of magic, but only at the cost of a horrible addiction. Meanwhile, in another city a priestess learns that her sister has discovered some ancient scriptures and has been communicating with their goddess. Which would be all good and well, if that didn’t mean a holy inquisition wasn’t about to hit her and her family full in the face. The story follows from there and eventually brings the three main characters together on an adventure that will bring them all face to face with old gods and dark daemons! Which I think is a demon or maybe a goth kid with shitty parents… I don’t know.
For the most part I think Husberg did a great job of creating a new fantasy world. His spin on elves (called Tiellan’s) as a down trodden, and forgot folk was unique. I also really enjoyed his new take on magic as special mental abilities, and I think Winter’s story, of learning to use this magic while fighting addiction, were my favorite parts of the book. Husberg did a wonderful job a creating a dark, and cold, vibe for this story, and because of this the story had a feeling (for me at least) of a world where magic was sort of dying out, but you could still trip over the odd vampire every now and again. Then the weird stuff happens with Jane and Cinzia, and POW! World chuck full of magic again. Oh, yeah. About the vampire; I should also mention that I enjoyed the character of Astrid. As far as Draculias go, she’s pretty cool.
The only criticisms I have for this story (just two) are minor ones. First: I felt Knots back story, when revealed, was a little convoluted. I’m trying not to spoil much here, but I think he would’ve been a better character without the amnesia and later reveal of what makes Knot a Knot. I can’t say what it takes to make a believable character in fiction, but in a lot of these stories I read it seems (to me) like writers make way too many excuses to explain why their protagonist is an ultimate bad ass, and also a heck of a good guy. I think a vivid memory, and free will, would’ve made a much better hero for this story.
The other criticism is more of personal one, and though I’m totally going to muck it up, I still kind of wanted to explain why it soured this book for me a bit. At a certain point in this story I suspected the author was LDS (Mormon), and although his being religious doesn’t bug me, having his religion pop in the story kind of does. I was raised in an LDS family, and I even did my missionary work in Brazil. Shortly after which I left the church. I’ve spent the better part of twenty years getting as far away from that religion (or any) as I can, so having it swing around again (even in the form of fantasy story) kind of left a bad taste in my mouth. Well, brain. Anyways; I don’t think these elements would hurt the story for any other reader, and it shouldn’t, but… eh, kind of took me out of the story, and it was hard to get back into it after that. It also has me pondering my personal biases and how I’ll expect enjoyment from any off the shelf fantasy novel I’ll pick up, but how quickly I turn my nose up at stories that contain any of my own past/personal religious myths. Which means that since reading this fantasy story, I’ve been spending too much time in the dusty parts of my brain, and I don’t like that. Though, Husberg did do an amazingly progressive spin on the Joe Smith story, and using priestesses, goddesses, and a little inquisition, made for a better story than the crud I had to sit through in Sunday school.
All the same though, readers can find of copy of Duskfall at all major book stores now, or you can get your own copy online at Titanbooks.comM. Check out a complete synopsis below!
Stuck with arrows and close to death, a man is pulled from the icy waters of the Gulf of Nahl. As he is nursed back to health by a local fisherman, two things become very clear: he has no idea who he is, and he can kill a man with terrifying ease.
The fisherman is a tiellan, a race which has long been oppressed and grown wary of humans. His daughter, Winter, is a seemingly quiet young woman, but behind her placid mask she has her demons. She is addicted to frostfire – a substance that both threatens to destroy her and simultaneously gives her phenomenal power.
A young priestess, Cinzia, hears the troubling news of an uprising in her native city of Navone. Absconding from the cloistered life that she has kept for the last seven years, she knows she must make the long journey home. The flames of rebellion threatening her church and all that she believes in are bad enough, but far worse is the knowledge that the heretic who sparked the fire is her own sister.
These three characters may have set out on different paths, but fate will bring them together on one thrilling and perilous adventure.