Disclaimer: The Shock of Night, by Patrick W. Carr, was provided by Bethany House in exchange for an honest review.
When one man is brutally murdered and the priest he works for mortally wounded, Willet Dura, reeve to the king of Bunard, is called to investigate. As he 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 his task, but the clues to the crime lead to contradictions and questions without answers, and his senses are skewed. People he touches appear to have a subtle shift, as though he can divine 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 dangerous conflict that threatens not only his city, but his entire world—a conflict that will force him to come to terms with his inability to remember how he escaped the Darkwater Forest—and what happened to him inside it.
I was excited to read a fantasy book for Bethany House this month, as normally the books I get are historical or modern Christian romance. The Shock of Night was a pleasant change of pace. As fantasy goes, it’s pretty decent. It has its flaws—I felt as if Carr was going too over-the-top at the beginning with his descriptions, as if he was shouting “This is a fantasy world! Fantasy! Fantasy!”—but overall I rather enjoyed the book as a whole. It’s expansive, and although the world outside the city is not explored, it does feel inhabited and fleshed out. I thought the combination of the murder mystery and “secrets of the past” plot was good, as just one would have bogged down the book and made it seem more mediocre. As it stands, the one plot compelled me to pay attention to the other in case something revealing happened, so it kept me on my toes and engaged with the characters.
However, I did find towards the end of the book that the plot became much more muddled and confusing. My engagement with the book drifted into bewilderment at what the characters were saying and doing, which was disappointing. Besides over-describing at the beginning, Carr also had a tendency throughout to not fully explain what his characters had just learned, so at one point (the point where it all started to fall apart for me) the main character realizes something and hints at it to the other characters, but it’s never fully explained what it is he discovered. I don’t like having to guess what plot points are when they’re revealed.
After that fumble, the book went downhill for me. As I said, things got very confusing, there wasn’t much explanation as to what was going on or what was happening and the terminology suddenly seemed too inhibiting to be useful. If you can forgive a confusing last ¼, the first ¾ of The Shock of Night are pretty good. It’s perhaps too confusing for me to fully appreciate or like it, but I enjoyed my time spent reading the novel—mostly.
My rating: 3/5
Genre: Fantasy, Christian
You can buy this here: The Shock of Night