THE GUTTER PRAYER (The Black Iron Legacy #1)
Written by Gareth Hanrahan
Published by Orbit, Jan 17, 2019
My star rating – 5 freaking stars!!
A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.
The city has always been. The city must finally end. When three thieves – an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man – are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.
Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know. Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city’s underworld. Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh. Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon. Find it on Goodreads
This book………. GAH!!!! It filled a void in my fantasy loving heart that I didn’t realize was vacant. Justine warned me of a few things before I started. 1 – it’s weird. 2 – it’s like nothing she’s ever read before. Well Justine, you were absolutely right on both accounts, as if I ever doubted you!! Yes, it’s weird, but not too weird. As far as being something that she’s never read before – THAT’S what sealed the deal making this a 5 star read!!! I have A LOT to say about this book. It might be my longest review i’ve ever written. Sorry, not sorry.
Before I get into the unique elements of this book, I need to mention the pacing. I have a feeling that there are some of you out there that will DNF or set this one aside. This book takes longer than normal to really get moving. I remember messaging Justine at about page 150 asking when the hell things were going to pick up and when I was going to figure out the endgame. Thing is – this is an epic fantasy and there’s a metric shit ton of world and character building that happens in the beginning. It’s not like info dumping – you don’t need to run away screaming! It’s all still insanely interesting and slightly terrifying. But by page 200 you’ll still be slightly confused and wondering where the story is going. By page 300 it was like a sniper creeped up on me out of nowhere, shot me in the ass, and I took off reading at lightening speed! I NEEDED to know how this continued and how all of these elements came to a head. If slow burning and detailed fantasy isn’t your cup of tea, then I suggest to stay away. If you’re like me and want to drown in all the details and be swept away into a world that might give you nightmares, then here you go!
It begins with a heist. Things seem to be going well until it all falls apart and our merry little group of thieves get separated. Rat, a ghoul, runs for his life to hide in the underground tunnels that spread underneath the city. Spar, who has a deadly disease that it slowly turning him to stone (more on that in a minute), tries to flee but his stone body is just too slow. He gets apprehended and sent to an island prison. Cari, a mortal girl (or is she?), falls from a vision and is taken to the prison along with Spar. From there we get a story about thieves, gods, power, academics, the rich, the poor, and a number of creatures that will keep you up at night. There are so many elements that all come together to make a story of “the days in the life of a city that slowly went to shit.” It’s good times!
But it’s the creatures and beings that are unique as fuck! Sorry for the F-bomb but I’m just that blown away by what Gareth Hanrahan created within this novel. I can’t mention them all (there are far too many to list here) but I’ll talk about a few of them to get you interested. We have ghouls that are creatures of the dark. They love the underground tunnels and feast on the flesh of the city’s dead. Yummy. Then we have the stone men who are humans that caught a disease that slowly turns them to stone. All I could think of was human sized versions of Rock Biter from The Never-ending Story (if you don’t know who i’m talking about then we can’t be friends….). Then we have men who are made of thousands of worms that take shape of human beings…… this one made my skin crawl. Most terrifying of all though – the Tallowmen. These were men made of wax; missing faces with flames in place of them. They were unnaturally strong and, if one was on your tail, there was little you could do to get away from them. The way he describes them was a thing of nightmares. Yet, at the same time, all I could do was imagine the Wicked Witch of the West screaming “I’m melting, I’m melting, what a world.” This is just the tip of the iceberg folks. There are so many more creatures than this and they all have a purpose within the city.
All of the characters were amazing!!! Some I loved, some I hated, some made me want to feel bad for them but then they would do something really stupid and I would hate them all over again. My favourite character though? Aleena!!!!!! She’s everything! She shows up in the beginning of the book and she was pretty cool. But then she comes back later and she was better than ever! She’s batshit crazy, fearless, hilarious, and someone you don’t want to mess with. I’ve heard that she gets a perspective in the second book and I can’t freaking wait!!! All the other characters were great too. There are so many people to keep tabs on but they’re very easy to remember and figure out.
I wish I could say more but this is really the type of book that you need to read to experience. I could tell you all about it but it won’t hold a candle (HA! See what I did there….. ) to reading it straight from the author. If you like epic fantasy, stories of thieves and gods, and an atmosphere with creatures that are slightly terrifying, then you NEED this book in your life!
Until next time, happy reading!