As I write this review, it’s been a long time since a book has made me angry and upset for the wrong reasons. Before I even opened the book I was so excited having read the blurb. But that quickly disintegrated into dust as the more I read on. It wasn’t because of the story or world building, it was because of the problematic way in which the dark skinned main character was portrayed in the book.
The story begins with the main character Stratus suddenly waking up in an empty field. Both paralysed and within a body he feels isn’t is, Stratus is very much lost as to why he is there. He has no clue who he is and where exactly he is from. Even his name gives him no inclination of the mystery surrounding him. He is found by a deacon and a group of people who bind him taking him away. However, after being pushed to kill members of the group after being assaulted by them, Stratus makes a run for it. What follows is a journey of self discovery as Stratus tries to discover who exactly he is and why he came to be left without any memory of his past. He makes friends, but the beast inside of him only encourages him to make many enemies.
This is probably the hardest review I’ve ever had to write if I’m honest. Up until the problematic language started turning up I was genuinely enjoying it. I was very much intrigued at discovering who exactly Stratus is, how he got his amazing powers of strength and magical abilities. I also found Stratus to be funny without even trying at times. He was so lost in terms of his memory that those he met were also bewildered at his questions.
Stratus also meets interesting characters along the way from Prince Lucian, his bodyguard Tatyana Henkman who is a descendant of the famous by Stahrull Henkman who killed the last dragon. The world building interested me too due to its depth and reminded me a bit of The Witcher world.
But you know what now I’m going to talk about what really really disappointed me because that’s what matters to me the most right now and it overshadowed everything for me. Constantly and I mean constantly the author uses the characters skin colour in a negative and uncomfortable manner. At one point dark skin people are reffered to as “the blacks”. To make things worse, there is even a lynching moment where a minor character questions whether Stratus will turn white if hanged. Oh you think that’s bad? It gets worse because during the night another central character tells Stratus that he should smile in the dark because he can’t be scene because he’s black??? It’s also insinuated that all demons are black people??? Are you maaad faam????
From there it just ruined my reading experience. Although I finished the book, how the author had written a POC character made my blood boil. The constant need to remind me that the main character was black was just maaad to me because it was as if they’ve never seen a black person before? What makes me even more sad is that the world building was great and the premise so intriguing. But the language in depicting a POC was just fricking awful and I’m sad because those words hurt m. I’m still bemused that the publisher didn’t think “damn mate you think you should keep these things in? POC people exist in the real world you know.”
This book had a lot of potential but the language just ruined it for me. I don’t think I’ll ever read anything by the author again after this. What is also bewildering is that it’s a reissue?! Like did nobody think to realise how hurtful some of the things said are to POC? I’m guessing not tbh.
Thank you however to Hanna from Rebellion Publishing for sending me this book. I wish I could’ve written a more positive review.