From Jared Besse: I’ve had a blast reading through the 9 other finalists in this year’s SPFBO. Each one is enjoyable in thier own right and this one is no exception. Here’s a few of our thoughts about the book and an aggregate score for the blog! Hope you enjoy reading.
with the weight of her crimes. In a city where winter reigns amid the fires of industry and war, soot and snow conspire to conceal centuries of death and deception.
and the weight of a leaden sky threatens to crush her people. Katyushka Leonova, desperate to restore her family name, takes a job with Norylska’s brutal police force. To support his family, Genndy Antonov finds bloody work with a local crime syndicate.
with the weight of her dead. As bodies fall, the two discover a foul truth hidden beneath layers of deception and violence: Come the thaw, what was buried will be revealed.
Our Reviews & Ratings
Jared B: 8.0/10
A totaly brutal read. Very well written and with some amazing world building and cool magic. The action is consistently intense and I became invested in the protagonists. It is however, very grim and dark so make of that what you will – don’t go in expecting puppies and sunshine. While I really enjoyed the story, it felt like some of the motivations that weren’t made clear till the end a bit frustrating. This was an intentional choice by the authors, but is one my personal pet peeves in stories. Overall though, a great read and an easy recommendation to grimdark readers.
“If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?”
I usually feel skittish around books that are co-authored because it means there should be a high level of understanding between the authors in order for the reader not to feel that they were reading two books and I am glad to say Fletcher and Snyder did a great job at that! I have read one book by Fletcher before and enjoyed it and haven’t read any books by Snyder so I did not know what to expect but I was very satisfied by the end of this book.
The story follows two main characters: Katyusha and Genndy. Kat finds herself working with the police force and Gen is working with a criminal group. The book has multiple POVs and both were very well written -I enjoyed Kat’s chapter a little more and to be honest I don’t know who wrote her- The writing is very atmospheric, I felt that the world was cold and dark and both authors were great at showing rather than telling.
I really loved the prose, I highlighted a ton of quotes and paragraphs and I specially liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter. The writing is gritty and there was a great level of synchronization between the authors that just made the story flow!
“If a man is a book, as Lavrenti wrote, then war rewrote it from page one. “
The world-building is also top notch. As I mentioned before, it was very atmospheric but I also loved the magic system which is simple but very creative. There are stones that can store people’s memories and some attributes and when people wear them, they get the memories of whoever had them before. You can imagine the potential of twists and turns that this system allows and which the authors put to good use! It kind of gave me Sanderson vibes!
I thought the story would take me much more time to go through but I finished it in 3 days which just shows how addicting it really was. I loved the focus on grey characters and grey morals which was reflected in many quotes and scenes through the book.
All Kievan’s greatest philosophers are from Norylska because Norylska teaches us the one truth: Life is grey.
There are moments of black, when the dust from the smelting furnaces blanket the city in soot.
There are moments of white, after a fresh snow fall.
But they are moments. Grey is the natural state.
Summary: Snyder and Fletcher both did a great job in writing this with a killer prose, a very smart and creative magical systems, a cold and dark world-building and a story that kept me on my tip toes till the end. I really hope they get to collaborate more in the future!
I think this may have been the darkest book I have ever read. It truly captured the heart of grimdark. Norylska Groans hit the ground running right from the first chapter. I greatly enjoyed the two main POVs yet found myself looking forward to one over the other. The arcs for each character were wonderfully developed and I enjoyed the evolution of each. The setting was grim – I felt the desolation and pain. I found the majority of the book to be very well written with clearly defined motives. I did find the last 15% to become a little muddied and confusing when threads were tieing together. It felt like I had missed some key information or motives because I wasn’t fully understanding why things were suddenly happening. The ending was sort of a bit too abrupt for me – I haven’t heard anything yet but it left it open for a sequel. Overall, a brutal and dark story that kept me turning the pages well into the night.
David W: 8.75/10
I did not provide a full review for NG as I had already read a super early iteration of it for a blurb request, but here are my thoughts: Low fantasy with a pitch black edge, a super intriguing magic system, and a story that I crave more of.
Definite grab if you enjoyed Peter McLean’s “War for the Rose Throne” or are looking for a gritter “Gentleman Bastards”
FINAL SCORE (Rounded Up): 8.5/10