Book Review: Scar Night

You know how I talked about that book I’m reading on my Nook? Well, this was it.

I actually picked up the second book in the Deepgate Codex series (Iron Angel) over a year ago on accident. You’d think I’d have learned that lesson by now, since the vast majority of books on fantasy shelves written by the same author are part of a series. Oops. Imagine how annoyed I was when I opened the cover at home only to see “…in this awesome sequel to…”

Anyway, I went back to the bookstore seven or eight times only to find the second and third books in this series. I finally gave up and bought it on the Nook because I wanted to read it so badly.

And then… it took me about eight months to get around to reading it. I’m awesome. I bet I could have found it in print by at LEAST July. Meh, I guess I got what I deserved, right?

Now, let’s get back to this book. I think I’m going to try a new layout for my book reviews, compared to the very loose and disorganized review I gave to The Coldfire Trilogy. Let’s see how this works out:

Scar Night
By Alan Campbell

Genre: I’d say dark, urban fantasy with a steampunk feel.
Writing: Four stars
Characters: Three stars
Plotline: Three stars
Themes: Three stars
Overall Rating: Three stars

One of the original reasons I picked up Iron Angel was because I had this idea for a steampunk novel and I wanted to do a little research. The book jumped out at me and had a steampunk feel, both in cover design and based on the synopsis on the back, so I decided to pick it up. Considering the idea I had was a steampunk based in my own world (and most steampunk novels are based in Victorian England), this seemed like a good option for me.

First and foremost, this book did have an excellent world built behind it. The city of Deepgate is a really vile, dark place with equally vile and dark characters. The mythology behind the city, and the history of its conflicts with both the heathens outside of the city and within themselves is an interesting draw into the story. The element of angels added on top of this world is also interesting, since the angels are less divine and more “humanistic.” Alan Campbell did an excellent job describing this world. You really get a feel for the complexity of Deepgate and the scenery involved in it.

However, for as talented as Campbell is at writing, there are some elements to his characters and his plot that were really hard for me to really get involved in. I’ve read a few other reviews on his work, and many agree (as do I) that the book busied itself with so many characters it was difficult to attach to one and really understand and relate to them. Additionally, in my own view, I had a hard time understanding many of the characters’ motivations. There were also many scenes where characters “suddenly understood” something, but I never got WHY they made that realization at that specific point in time.

Additionally, the end of the novel felt slightly rushed. Essentially, shit hits the fan and the book ends three pages later. It’s kind of a weird way to wrap things up, with MANY questions left unanswered. There were scenes that didn’t make sense to me–the way one of the primary antagonists is disposed of is so sudden and unrealistic I didn’t really believe it happened. You also never get to know if the other antagonist really dies or if he’s going to come back in the next book.

I understand this is the beginning to a series, but there’s a difference between tying things up with enough loose ends left to further the plotline and literally letting your readers wonder if the whole place goes up in smoke or not.

I mean, I’m left with two of the characters wandering through a desert–no one talks about the sheer volume of what they just experienced. I just wanted… more.

My final conclusion: I’m probably going to read Iron Angel even if I wasn’t totally infatuated with Scar Night. Alan Campbell is a good writer as far as his craft is concerned, and I think he could easily improve his plotlines and characters as he continues to write. I’ll see if he did better in the rest of this series.

It wasn’t the worst, but it wasn’t the greatest, either.

I guess that’s what I get, when the genre I want to read and write is so narrow.


Categories: Book Reviews, Series

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