Shockingly Good Fantasy - The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr [Review]

The Artist Librarian reviews The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr, a thrilling mystery set in a medieval fantasy world.
I think I've just found a new favorite fantasy author!
Title: The Shock of Night (The Darkwater Saga #1)
Author: Patrick W. Carr
Published: 2015 by Bethany House Publishers

About the Book:
"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."
The Artist Librarian Review:
I've heard amazing things about Patrick W. Carr's work since his debut novel, A Cast of Stones, was released in 2013.  I hadn't gotten the chance to get to any of his books, so I immediately jumped on the opportunity to review Carr's latest fantasy novel (and the start of a new series).  Now I'm asking myself what took me to long to give his books a try!  The Shock of Night is a thrilling mystery/crime procedural set in a medieval fantasy world.  Full of political intrigue, action and swordplay, and mysterious powers, this novel has high crossover appeal to not only Adult/YA, but also the general fantasy market as well.

Willet Dura is one of King Laidir's reeves: A detective of sorts, the medieval kingdom of Collum's equivalent to a modern-day police investigator.  As someone who grew up reading mysteries and watching crime dramas on television, I thought this was a unique touch I hadn't encountered in any of the previous fantasy novels I've read.  While called on to solve murders and other crimes, it quickly becomes clear to Willet that there is more at work here.  In this fantastical world, people can be "gifted" --charisms from the god Aer which magnifies specific natural talents, abilities, or traits of an individual.  Though often passed on from parent to child or mentor to apprentice, when Willet discovers he has been given one of the most powerful and uncommon gifts, he is thrust into the midst of intrigue and danger.

Carr's writing is incredibly immersive.  While including enough elements and world-building for a full, medieval, fantasy feel, he doesn't get bogged down in minutiae that a lot of fantasy authors can get caught in.  The history of this world, concepts of gifting, and the political intrigue between nobles and between the different religious sects are intriguing and can't wait to see what's revealed next.  He also masterfully incorporates flashbacks, first person and third person narratives in a logical fashion.

While published by Bethany House, I think this fantasy novel could easily cross over into the general market.  The spiritual thread isn't an obvious allegorical route that can often be used in Christian fantasy, and it could be considered part of the world-building since it's not "preachy."  I'm looking forward to reading more of Carr's Darkwater Saga in the future, especially since this novel ends with a more than a few loose ends!  I'd highly recommend The Shock of Night to teens and adults that would enjoy clean but mature medieval fantasy with a mystery component.

Also, if you're wanting more of Carr's work, check out By Divine Right, an ebook prequel novella to this book.  I've just downloaded it to my Amazon Kindle App, but I believe it should be available at other ebook retailers (currently it's free)! 

What or who is the best new-to-you book or author you read this year? 

Content notes (not exhaustive): I'd consider this a clean fantasy novel, though I wouldn't really recommend it to young children.  Typical fantasy violence (skirmishes, dead bodies, one brief torture scene, characters put in zombie-like states, etc.), but never graphically depicted in detail ... oftentimes characters fall unconscious from pain rather than it being described.  Think the Lord of the Rings/Hobbit live action films, nothing that would be R-rated.

About the Author:
"Patrick W. Carr was born on an Air Force base in West Germany at the height of Cold War tensions. He has been told this was not his fault. As an Air Force brat, he experienced a change in locale every three years until his father retired to Tennessee. Patrick saw more of the world on his own through a varied and somewhat eclectic education and work history. He graduated from Georgia Tech in 1984 and has worked as a draftsman at a nuclear plant, done design work for the Air Force, worked for a printing company, and consulted as an engineer. Patrick's day gig for the last eight years had been teaching high school math in Nashville, Tennessee. He currently makes his home in Nashville with his wonderfully patient wife, Mary, and four sons he thinks are amazing: Patrick, Connor, Daniel, and Ethan. Sometime in the future he would like to be a jazz pianist, and he wrestles with the complexity of improvisation on a daily basis."
[Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.]
Shockingly Good Fantasy - The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr [Review] Shockingly Good Fantasy - The Shock of Night by Patrick W. Carr [Review] Reviewed by The Artist Librarian on 12/24/2015 12:26:00 AM Rating: 5

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