Book Review : The Shock of Night
The Darkwater Saga #1
By Patrick W. Carr
When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded on the streets of Bunard, Willet Dura is called to investigate. Yet the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers. As Willet begins to question the dying priest, the man pulls Willet close and screams in a foreign tongue. Then he dies without another word.
Willet returns to the city, no closer to answers than before, but his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, a twist seen at the edge of his vision, and it’s as though he can see their deepest thoughts. In a world divided between haves and have-nots, gifted and common, Willet soon learns he’s been passed the rarest gift of all: a gift that’s not supposed to exist.
Now Willet must pursue the murderer still on the loose in Bunard even as he’s pulled into a much more dangerous and epic conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world–a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his own tortured past if he wants to survive. (Courtesy of goodreads.com)
Adult Point of View
I highly recommend reading the ebook, a novella, By Divine Right, first because it will make the rest of the series make more sense! By Divine Right focuses on Willet and I felt a greater kinship with him that extends into The Shock of Night.
I’ve waited to do the review for this series because I wasn’t sure what I thought. I was so enamored with his first series, A Cast of Stone, that I had to give myself more time and a second read through to evaluate The Darkwater Saga more accurately.
I love Patrick Carr’s writing and the complexity inherent to his world building. In The Shock of Night Carr builds a new religion, politics, and a class system all within the framework of the plot. I feel like the story is character driven rather than event driven because the people carry the movement forward through their actions. I always prefer books where the plot is carried by the characters. I was surprised how violent The Shock of Night was because it is promoted as Christian fiction. I still feel that Carr should have a larger audience and his books should be published as mainstream fantasy.
There are four divisions of orders, each which emphasizes a different aspect of the same religion. The basic religion is based on a theology with a trinity godhead. The trinity is formed by Aer, Iosa and Gaoithe. So far, it has not been explained if the trinity is composed of three entirely different entities or if it a three within the one godhead.
1) Merum; they proclaim the liturgy without debate; wear a red robe. Their leader is the Archbishop.
2) Servants; the purpose of man is to serve man; wear a brown robe. Their leader is the Chief.
3) Vanguard: the purpose of man is to eradicate evil; wear a white robe. Their leader is the Captain.
4) Absold; the purpose of man is to forgive others as we are forgiven by Aer; wear a blue robe and are mostly attractive women. Their leader is call Grace.
The Vigil: all orders are under the Vigil, though all Orders are autonomous after breaking off from the original mother religion into sects. The Vigil members are responsible for containing the evil in the Darkwater forest.
Clast; drawing a constituency based on the anger that gifts are inherited and those without gifts are trodden down, without the hope of receiving their own gift. They seek equality – and revere the ungifted.
The classes are divided based on the inheritance of gifts. The nobility tend to have more gifts, and a purer strain of gifts. Merchants frequently display some gifts, while the poor are bereft of the gifts bestowed by Aer (the God). There is rising tension over the ownership of gifts because those without a gift tend to be impoverished.
It is a medieval society with a king, lords and ladies, merchants, and revees, the king’s police, in addition to the poor. There are other kingdoms who potentially threaten each other, but they don’t play into the plot surrounding the Kingdom of Collum. Bunard is the city where the king’s fortress resides.
The forest holds an evil that has been contained by a secret religious order, the Vigil. Those who enter the Darkwater forest and return are mad. They hold within their minds a vault that is represented by a dark scroll. When the Vigil, the secret order, tries to either read the scroll or destroy the scroll the person becomes nothing more than an empty shell. It is discovered that some hold this vault and then unexpectedly snap, becoming a vicious murderer.
The known 6 gifts given by Aer are beauty, craft (for the body), sum, parts (for the soul), helps and devotion (for the spirit).
The nine talents for man include language, logic, space, rhythm, motion, nature, self, others and all.
The temperaments of creation are impulse, passion, observation and thought.
Aurium is a rare metal. The significance of this metal has not yet been explained.
Some Main Characters:
Willet Dura: protagonist, he is the King’s Reeve, solves murders and helps the urchins and destitute women.
Laidir: the King of Collum
Elwin: Eldest member of the Vigil, bestows an unexpected gift upon Willet prior to his death
Robin: guard of Elwin, died protecting him
Ealdor: a member of the Servants Order, a friend to Willet, resides in a small church in the poor section
Lady Gael: betrothed of Willet, intelligent and witty
Pellin: the new leader of the Vigil
Peret Volsk: potential member of the Vigil
Bronwyn: the oldest female of the Vigil
Toria Deel: the youngest female of the Vigil and in love with Peret Volsk
Laewan: member of the Vigil
Rory: leader and guardian of the urchins
Bolt: a guard within the Vigil
Custos: ancient librarian, particularly loves sweetened figs rolled in crushed almonds.
I really like his descriptive writing.
“The subtle note of disapproval in his voice drifted to my ears as if he had to bribe the air to carry it to me.” (p. 24)
“I’d been worried about pawns while knights and kings were after my head.” (p. 242)
“The curtain I’d seen so often on Bolt fell across his eyes again, like a sudden darkness that takes a man unaware, like the shock of night.” (p.243)
I’m not sure that I like it as much as Cast of Stones, however, it is well written and fascinating. I definitely feel like Carr should be seen as a mainstream writer more than a Christian author. The Shock of Night is appropriate for a mature young adult (over 16 years old) audience and adults.
4 out of 5 stars
- the Mother
If you liked this one try Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn series and The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima.