Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide by William Hussey (review copy) - The first in a terrifying trilogy, read on if you dare: Jake could now see the demon fully. Its body was a mass of steely sinew, its arms roped with muscle. Six fingers sprouted from its hands, each ending in lethal talons. The thing did not possess a nose; instead a large hole, bubbling with green mucus, occupied the middle of its face. Mr Pinch's tongue flickered between his teeth and slurped across his fat lips. He was hungry. When a violent storm rages around the little village of Hobarron's Hollow, a young boy is sacrificed 'for the greater good'. His blood is used to seal a mystical doorway and prevent an apocalyptic disaster known only as the Demontide. Twenty-five years later, another boy, Jake Harker, is about to be drawn into the nightmare of the Demontide. Witches and their demon familiars stalk his every move, and his dreams are plagued by visions of a 17th Century figure known only as the Witchfinder. When his father is abducted, Jake must face the terrible secrets kept by those closest to him and a shocking truth that will change his life forever... From Amazon UK
When I was originally asked to review this book, I was a little unsure; I hadn’t heard of the author before, and I was asked by Galactus, a digital design company which has created the website for the series, to review it. Not being approached by such a company to review a book before, I was a little wary as to whether or not the book would be any good, but the premise sounded pretty promising, so I agreed.
However, I was asked to have Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide reviewed by a deadline, which put me off a little more. Why? I’m not a fan of deadlines, and was so excited to read some other books in my TBR pile. Although the book sounded good, I wasn’t in the mood to read it, and the original misgivings about the book were still there. However, with the deadline approaching, I picked up the book – and now I wish I had read it weeks earlier!
I cannot tell you just how incredible this book is! I absolutely loved it! The book has everything the fantasy fan could possibly ask for, with a hint of most, if not all, of the sub-genres of fantasy. It’s like nothing I have ever read before!
At it’s heart, Dawn of the Demontide is an urban fantasy, but a dark one. There are a few tiny moments at the very beginning when I cracked a smile, but there isn’t much light relief in the form of comedy in this book. It’s dark, it’s edgy, and it’s dangerous. I wouldn’t say it was a horror, but it’s a fantasy with a tiny step in that direction.
Set in a made up English town, with some mentions of London, this book had a very real, believable feel to me. One of the things I loved, which also added to how real it felt, was the mythology. Jake is a huge fan of all things horror, and over the years of reading comics, books, non-fic, and watching movies, he has this vast knowledge of horror conventions, dubbed by a friend his “dark catalogue”, which he ends up falling back on to get him out of some scrapes. These may not necessarily be things we know ourselves, but things he has found out from the stories he’s read himself – which may not actually be in existence, but are surely based on some myth. I could be wrong there, it may just be that I don't know of these things as I’m not a fan of horror, horror fans may pick up and know some of the things Jake mentions. A lot of research has gone into Jake’s dark catalogue, and the fact that some of what he knows – parts of which the reader may recognise – is real, makes this story very believable.
There is plenty of action, but most of the magical kind. Although plotlines are not similar, I felt there was a strong Harry Potter feel to this book; the “quest” element, and Jake trying to work things out with the help of his friends. In some ways, it almost felt, in my opinion, that this book could have been written by J. K. Rowling herself, though down a darker genre of fantasy, in a completely unrelated plot to what she’s known for. The dark element of the novel also put me in mind of adult urban fantasies, gritty and dangerous, yet there was also something I can only describe as a slight hint of something that felt much like it could have come from a David Eddings’ high fantasy. But this book is most definitely YA. It sounds like a great hodge-podge of stories, but it’s not at all; this is just me recognising small similarities of styles or feels of the great fantasies I have loved over my many years as a fantasy fan. It was me recognising a great fantasy; something completely new which felt like something I knew.
For all this text, I feel like I haven’t said much at all, yet I’m not sure there is much else I can say. The plot is just fantastic and wonderful – if it was food it would be chocolate! Jake as a character is just so awesome, but I can’t really go into his character much. There’s suspense, there are awesome settings, there are just too many wonders and delights to mention! Basically, I’m in love! There is no other way to put it. I cannot tell you just how excited I am to read Witchfinder: Gallows at Twilight when it is released next year, January 2011. I have found myself a new favourite fantasy series, and can’t recommend it enough. You must read this book!
Thanks to Galactus for sending me a review copy.
Published: 4th March 2010 in the UK
Publisher: Oxford University Press
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Buy on The Book Depository (not available on Amazon US)
Witchfinder Books' Website
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