I received an ARC of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity.
The Gutter Prayer is something very rare. It is a fantasy book treading new ground, forging its own path.
From the first page, the writing lets you know that this is something very different. Not only is the narration very unusual (don’t even ask me what this narrative voice is called), Hanrahan’s voice is so unique, it is truly hard to believe that this is a debut effort. Unpublished writers beware! Judging by the talent on display here, every aspiring writer should up their game.
The main plot has us following three thieves with a mission, only for everything to go spectacularly wrong. What starts out as a simple little heist quickly unravels, and I mean very quickly, into a rabbit warren of mystery, magic, dark secrets and horrific truths. I will not even begin to try and explain the plot further than that, as it is dark delight best left unspoiled.
This is a world conjured up by some mad genius in possession of mind boggling creativity. Layer upon layer of rich, detailed elements, fascinating history, vivid imagery and unique characters cements this as an original world that I absolutely, unequivocally, emphatically, would never want to live in. It is scary as hell. The creativity on display here would warrant a read of this book all by itself, if not for the masterful crescendo of tension weaved into the story, making for a real page turner and culminating in a unputdownable finale.
Gareth Hanrahan topples your expectations and perceptions like dominoes, page by page, until you are left with nothing but pure, unadulterated awe.
All right then. High praise aside, I did have an issue with the book that killed any chance it had of becoming a favourite of mine.
The truth is, I did not care for the characters much. They were well written, and interesting, but somewhere along the lines, the magic that writers do to make you feel for the characters just did not happen for me. There were one or two instances where I started to get the barest inkling that I was starting to care for a character when they were summarily killed off. Maybe that was part of the problem. Main characters met sudden deaths and were gone from the story just like that. Or maybe it was just a timing thing on my part. Gone before I could care and those still present were not as much to my liking. It is a small thing, but it can have a huge influence. I still liked reading about what they were up to, but just did not care about them like I should have. It says a lot though that I still rate this as highly. Either way, I suspect that this won’t be a problem for the majority of readers, so once again it’s more a case of it’s me, not you. 🙂
To finish off with I need to reiterate. This is a very special book my friends. The Gutter Prayer is an absolutely phenomenal debut and with this first attempt Gareth Hanrahan has proven himself exceptionally talented. If the authors mantelpiece (I hope you have one Mr Hanrahan) is not stacked with awards by the end of 2019 I will be shocked and dismayed, as this effort deserves it. Yep, it’s that good. This book will undoubtedly be one of the best fantasy books you will read in 2019 and heralds the start of something absurdly promising. While I had my issues with it, I do not hesitate to call it fantastic and a must read for all who love fantasy. Be sure to mark the release date on your calendar.
PS: There is a gorgeous hardcover of this book available from Goldsboro already. (Release date everywhere else is 15 January 2019) It has beautiful blue edges and to top it all is signed by the author. YES PLEASE! Link