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Book Review: The Garnet Dagger

I’m finally getting back to book reviews on this site. I’ll try to post a review every Thursday. A quick refresher on my philosophy towards book reviews: I won’t slam an independent author. I might occasionally criticize, or point out aspects of the book that didn’t appeal to me, but I won’t slam an author. I can usually find something good to say about every book – at least those I finish. If I really don’t like a book, I won’t finish it. Life is just too short.

Here’s a list of some things I will and will not ding for.

  • Excessive spelling errors: This is a no-brainer. Every book (even the traditionally published ones) has an error or two. Perhaps an author uses loose instead of lose. Spellcheck won’t catch that. Choose/chose. Same thing. But if a book has more than two or three actual spelling errors, then I know the author didn’t bother to run spellcheck. The/Teh is a common one and one that a spellcheck will find every time. More than a few legitimate spelling errors and I’m likely to stop reading before too long unless there’s a SERIOUSLY compelling reason not to.
  • Plot holes: Fixing all of your plot holes is hard. Perhaps you switched gears halfway through. Case in point: In Secrets in Blood, Evangeline wears a gold Italian coin on a chain around her neck. Originally, I wanted this coin to be a silvery metal. I’d even written it that way. But some research into ancient Italian coins netted me the knowledge that most of the coins of the era I needed were actually gold. So I changed it. But there was one instance (out of about a dozen) where I missed the switch. I had to do a re-release of the book and fix that and a couple of other minor errors. One or two of these and I’ll just read right by them. Dozens and I’ll ding for them.
  • Inconsistencies from characters: I read one book where the male protagonist was ex-Special Forces. Though the book had a bit of swearing in it, the male protagonist, who grew up in the United States with American parents, never used a single contraction. I don’t use a lot of contractions in my By the Fates books, but they take place in a more formal world. A book set in present day with an American military hero who doesn’t use one single contraction just isn’t believable. I dinged half a star for that. The rest of the book was so good that I couldn’t ding much more.
  • An ending I dislike: I don’t ding for this in general. There’s only one time I will. I read a book that was billed as a romance. The two main characters had at most fifteen pages together in the entire book and both of them died at the end. They didn’t even die together. How can you bill that as a romance? The only romantic part about it was one very tame sex scene and the occasional declaration from the narrator that she loved her missing fiancé. I dinged a star for that (but also noted that if the book had been categorized differently, I wouldn’t have dinged).

Now, onto today’s review!

The Garnet Dagger

Brock is an elf. Or he was an elf, until he encounters a vampire, waiting in a trap for an unsuspecting human. The elf is changed and is turned into the bringer of death or of salvation if he can find and kill a virgin witch.

Celeste is that witch. Imprisoned, her power kept in check by her captor, chance brings them together. By the time Brock realizes that she’s the witch he’s meant to kill, his feelings for her have him conflicted. Can he kill her and save his lands and his family? Or would killing her end him?

The action and emotion is high from the first few pages. The author has a gift for description and for keeping the pace of the book moving rapidly. This is a book you can read in a weekend. I read it in two days. I devoured it.

The ending is exactly as it should be. I won’t give anything away, but let’s just say that misdirection plays a role and plays it well. I was left very satisfied.

The only issue I personally had with the book was the phrasing used. The book is not written in complete sentences. We have prose such as the following:

Sun rose unhurried, as though to mock me. Time wasted while I waited for these humans to wake.

Then a bit later: Closed the door, I rubbed my arms inside my room.

Normally, if I found a book’s writing not to my liking, I’d simply stop reading. But the story held me. It’s such an amazing story. So I kept reading. As I did, I realized that the phrasing used actually makes sense. Brock, as an elf, is not supposed to have the most perfect grasp of the human language. He is a magical creature and as such, speaks as one. Celeste speaks much differently and once her character was introduced, I saw the difference between the two characters and it all made sense.

By the time I was about 30% of the way through the book, I didn’t even notice the phrasing which had irked me in the first few pages. I had to go back and verify that it was even still there. It was, but again, it just works.

I loved the characters. All of them. The evil ones were sufficiently evil and the good ones sufficiently conflicted so that you could sympathize with them. I loved the ending, the payoff before the ending, and the action sequences.

Well worth the read.

The Garnet Dagger – 4.5 out of 5 stars

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