Review: Red Harvest Moon (The Wandering Knife #1) by Miles Hurt

Rating: 7.5/10

Synopsis

THE TABLES FOR THE HARVEST FEAST ARE SET.
AND THE GHULS OF URIZAN ARE COMING, UNINVITED.

Led by the colossus Krond, the flesh-eating ghuls are ready to blaze and burn across the lands of Soren. The village of Puttle lies in their path, where they will bring fire and death.

The Black Feather is an outlaw, an outcast, a Wandering Knife. But he is the only hope the villagers have in this dark hour. Bandit turned protector, the Black Feather is hired by the villagers to take up his sword against the marauders.

Krond seeks the Black Feather. The ghuls are hungry. And the harvest moon will shine red.

Review

Red Harvest Moon is a fantastic, exciting novel that sets the tone early on as a book that’ll appeal to fans of Japanese-styled stories – it isn’t afraid to wear its influences on its sleeve. What’s left is something that’s elegant, personal and a joy to read.

There’s a definite sense of theme and a strength of expectation set early on; Hurt melds inspiration from Japanese lore, culture and animation into the setting, the way the scenes are formed, poetic and deftly painted. From the way the golden leaves fall, to the overall colours and imagery that are on show, it’s a treat for the imagination. And as someone who has indulged themselves in that which influences this book, I found a lot to enjoy in it. There’s the stoic strong, yet – at first – unwilling hero. His sidekick and a number of characters leave an impression on the reader early on.

In short, the ghuls are attacking, a monstrous horde that eat humans and raze villages to the ground – they plan to leave nothing standing in their wake. And next on their list in the village of Puttle. Only, a reluctant swordsman, who was once a Loyal Knife but now a famous outlaw, will stand in their way. Along with a veritable assortment of villagers. The one thing I loved about the plot was how small in scope the stakes were. Usually in epic fantasy, we see the world at stake. Here it’s only a village; of course, there’s the promise that it’ll be much more if our heroes don’t step in. But the personal, small struggle is what makes this. It’s one villages stand against a monstrous onslaught. It’s rather quite refreshing.

The book was rather short and snappy, in which case meant we didn’t get too much focus on any one character as an arc. There was quite a few POVs that seemed to dance around the main one of Ren, and we see him grow, in a short space of time, and there’s a definite evolution. This is worked through nicely in flashbacks of Ren’s time as a Loyal Knife and the reason he isn’t such anymore. One thing that I struggled with was the deliberateness in the dialogue. Sometimes it felt like characters were saying things to move the plot, which got a bit unnatural. But often, it suited Ren and said a lot about his character, there was just not a lot of variation, but that’s from my point of view. It works for the story.

We were very briefly introduced to this world, an array of gods mentioned, the Adept, the ghuls, and those that Ren has in his past. There’s a lot that made this world feel very lived in and I hope that is explored at some point in the future. It’s a great starting point for what would make a very intriguing series and I hope Hurt continues to write the characters, or the world.

Overall, it’s a fantastic first in the series for fans of Japanese inspired novels, those who just want something shorter that doesn’t require you to invest time in a large series.

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