Title: The Gutter Prayer
Author: Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan
Publisher: January 2019, Orbit books
Blurb: A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.
The city has always been. The city must finally end.
When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.
Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.
Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld.
Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.
Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon.
**Massive thanks to Orbit for the ARC, given in exchange for an honest review**
Wow, if this isn’t on your To-Read list already, I’d highly recommend rectifying that error, because friends: this book is unlike anything I’ve ever read.
Most notably for me, honestly, is the way this book is written. It’s in such a different style and voice than what I’m used to, and it did take some getting used to. I’m not sure if I can really describe it, but it feels like it sort of blends narration and stream-of-consciousness style (or perhaps train of thought) all into the same sentence, yet you’re not confused when you reach the end of it? I’m not even sure if that’s right or what is actually happening, but that’s how it felt to me.
As such, I really had to focus when reading this novel. I’m usually pretty good at tuning out the world and reading in any environment, but I needed quiet and solitude when reading The Gutter Prayer. Everything was so purposeful, from the way it was written, to the details described, to the order in which the information was given. I couldn’t afford to be distracted, by anything, lest I missed something important and ruined my understanding of the story.
And whoa, this story.
I think I have to continue with my theme of purposefulness. Every character played a role in this story, every single one. There were no throwaways and that was seriously powerful. Add in the fact that you’re seeing multiple perspectives from all different sides of power and suddenly, you have your feelings and opinions being tugged back and forth, your opinion never safe from being altered, shocked or your heart suddenly ripped out. Finishing this book, I feel both a little numb from how powerful and unexpected that ending was, but also slightly exhausted; like I actually experienced the weight of Cari’s journey alongside her, instead of simply reading about it.
Don’t get the wrong impression, though. After that ending and that last line, you can bet with 100% certainty I’m absolutely sitting over here, baited breath, to see what happens next. It was a beautiful story, prolly one of the most creative I’ve read. The creatures, the way society was built around them and the religious beliefs; the depth of the lore was just so real and I couldn’t get enough of it, truly. Some of it was so dark, too (and we all know how much I love dark), to the point that I was actually revolted, thanks to a single line (and I am almost never moved to such a response, so that alone is impressive).
I seriously don’t believe I can review this novel and do it justice. I definitely feel like I’m just talking in circles (so thanks for reading and sticking with me anyway). It made words like “intricate” and “depth” feel not grand enough to be proper descriptors, with characters who were fresh and vibrant and real, yet so burdened and broken, I couldn’t help fall in love with them. I was awed by creations like the Tallowmen and the Crawling Ones. And I don’t think I’ve ever read a book where the information was presented at the perfect time, without a hitch. There were a lot of plots working together and every execution of information to push those plots forward or tie them together was flawlessly done.
It was just…an incredible book; one that I feel I’ll have to reread multiple times to truly do it justice. This is an author you’re not going to want to miss. Absolutely not.