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Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Ashes of Onyx by Seth Skorkowsky

Official Author Website
Order Ashes Of Onyx over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Dämoren
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Hounacier
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Ibenus 

Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Redemptor Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Seth Skorkowsky
Read Building The Perfect Revolver by Seth Skorkowsky (guest post)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Raised in the swamps and pine forests of East Texas, Seth Skorkowsky gravitated to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. When not writing, Seth enjoys cheesy movies, tabletop role-playing games, and traveling the world with his wife.

FORMAT/INFO: Ashes of Onyx is 467 pages long divided over thirty-three numbered chapters and is a standalone bookThe book is currently available in all formats. It was published in 2019 by City Owl Press

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: As a huge fan of Skorkowsky’s Valducan series, I was excited to check his newest book. Ashes of Onyx begins as Urban Fantasy but it contains elements of High, Portal, and Epic Fantasy, mixed with more than a bit of Horror.  

Kate Rossdale is a sorceress, and she comes with a lot of baggage. She blames herself for the accident that killed her friends and made her lose her magic. When we meet her, she’s a junkie. She justifies her behavior in a way that makes sense (the need to feel magic again), but in reality, her addiction allows her to cope with grief, self-contempt, and guilt.

Things change when she meets Richard Harcourt, who reveals she hasn’t caused the tragedy that destroyed her life. In reality, the sorceress Kate considered a friend cursed her and stole her power. Before Kate gets her magic back, she must get clean. Not an easy task.

Ashes of Onyx shifts between subgenres and settings. Kate's team looks for answers across the globe and across worlds. Unraveling Skorkowsky’s world of monsters, magic, and all the strange in-between gives a lot of fun. Some of it is what you’d expect, some of it not. The mix of familiar and foreign kept me interested throughout. I mean, he makes it feel like this stuff could be real. 

The alternate worlds and their inhabitants are imaginative and richly described. While it'll appeal to some readers, others (me included) will feel the novel spends too much time exploring places. I prefer focused narratives and can't help but mention that in places not much was happening. 
Kate is a strong lead character. Fiercely loyal, brave, but also broken and lost. All things combined, she makes for a complex, charismatic and memorable protagonist. If the book gets a sequel, I will read it for Kate alone. Secondary characters feel distinct but I wouldn't describe them as particularly memorable.

CONCLUSION: Ashes of Onyx incorporates aspects of many genres ranging from urban fantasy to horror. Skorkowsky takes recognizable story beats and shapes them into a compelling whole. Fans of character-driven stories who prefer heroes with a grain of moral ambiguity should add this novel to their "should read" list. 


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