Review: SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD by Patrick Samphire

Publisher: Self-Published
Page Count: 460
Release Date: May 28th, 2020
Series: MENNIK THORNE, Book 1
Rating: 3.5/5 Stars – Liked It

Note: I was provided a free copy of the book by the author in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Mennik “Nik” Thorn is a down-and-out mage, possibly the only one that works for hire in the city of Agatos. It’s not a great way to live, but it largely keeps Nik free and clear of the politics of the three high mages and their followers. Unfortunately, when an old friend shows up and calls in a favor to ask Nik to break a curse on an item, Nik finds himself deeply enmeshed in a potential magical war brewing in the city. As the bodies continue to pile up and as the Ash Guard views Nik with increasing suspicion as their lead suspect, Nik’s going to have to figure out who’s really behind the murders – before he ends up a victim himself.

SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD is a blend of crime noir and epic fantasy. Aside from the fact that it takes place in a second-world fantasy city, I’d call it urban fantasy, akin to a certain wizard detective popular in that space. The crime noir feel is seeping throughout the book, especially in the early pages. While Nik isn’t an investigator per se, he does work for hire, and he does end up doing a lot of detecting in order to save his own skin (and that of his friend Benny, a thief that knows Nik from childhood). He’s got a ramshackle office where he meets clients, a reluctant “police force” ally, and he gets beat up a lot. In short, SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD has got classic hard-boiled detective tropes (thankfully without a femme fatale in sight) all seamlessly woven into a fantasy world full of magic and gods.

The author does a good job of painting the city of Agatos, from the seedy crime alleys to the gated manors designed to keep the riff-raff out. While gods are real, they are ever-rotating as civilizations rise and fall in power, and only rarely make their presence known. Your mileage will vary on how you get along with Nik; I occasionally found him trying a little too hard to be snarky, but that was the worst of it. Overall, he’s the kind of person that finds his desire to pay rent constantly at odds with his desire to do the right thing. Nik meets a fairly interesting cast of characters that I suspect will recur in future books, something I look forward to seeing. I could have done with more depth in Sereh, the eleven-year-old daughter of Benny. Nik gets saddled with her at various points in the books, and her only mode seems to be staring ominously with a knife. Don’t get me wrong, she knows how to use it and does so with great effect, but she only rarely gets beats of depth and emotion, and I would have liked to have gotten to know that character better.

Overall though, if you’re a fan of detective books, you’ll enjoy the ride of SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD. While parts of the book lulled (which I fully admit might have been me and the week I was having), the ending was a race to the finish line. I sat down with a third of the story to go, intending to read only a few chapters, and found myself staying up late to finish the whole book. SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD is a fully contained mystery, but with plenty of set-up for future complications in Nik’s life that shall definitely be interesting to watch.

7 thoughts on “Review: SHADOW OF A DEAD GOD by Patrick Samphire

Add yours

  1. I would not know this was a detective fantasy from looking at the cover, it screams epic fantasy to me. But I’m even more interested now because I love a good urban fantasy/detective story😁

    Liked by 1 person

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