Wednesday, 17 June 2015

The Lake of Souls by Darren Shan (Saga of Darren Shan, #10) - Book Review

5/5 Stars

The dead are waiting...


Edition: Paperback
Pages: 220
Chapters: 25 (Plus a prologue.)
Publisher: HarperCollins

Book Links: Goodreads
                      Author's Website


Going into The Lake of Souls, and following the point I made in my review of the previous book, I was interested in how - SPOILER ALERT - Larten's death would affect the world and its characters. By the blurb we see that this entry focuses more on Harkat, and I was equally excited about one of my favourite characters - who in recent entries has been more supportive in role - getting critical attention. And both are pulled off brilliantly. The Lake of Souls does take a separate path to what we've been following in the series so far, but the author's sheer skill and inventive imagination promise you that this will not be a sub-par ride.


Synopsis (Not a copy from the book, but I always keep my interpretations close.)

Our heroes are reeling from the loss of Larten Crepsley.
Darren most of all.
His mentor, father figure and above all, friend, is gone.
And Harkat's close to follow.
With the return of his nightmares and creator, Harkat will finally have to take the perilous journey to find out who he truly is.
Only, even if he succeeds, he may not be returning...

Plot - 5/5 Stars

We pick up straight after Killers of the Dawn, and the crushing weight of such a climax is horrible.

Larten's dead, and Steve is the real Vampaneze Lord.

It's a little much for our young, half-vampire, Darren Shan. It's exacerbated by the fact that, despite the eye-opening revelations, the father figure of the characters died for nothing. 

They didn't kill the Lord, and they missed another opportunity to do so. 

The grief in the first 1/4 of the story is heartbreaking and palpable. It's as if the energy has been sucked from everything. 

Not to worry though, The Lake of Souls is full of adrenaline and action, not just doom and gloom. Darren and Harkat's new mission take them to an outrageously fantastical world. For me, this entry is perhaps the most fantasy heavy, and that's a good thing. There's magic doors to different worlds; huge toads, strange animals, cult-like settlements, a drunken sailor and above all, dragons. It adds a wealth of mythology and world building to the series, and what we had before was already superb! 

Storytelling is definitely the author's forte, and is something he can continue to create. You just have to take a look at future series of his: The Demonata (my personal favourite series of all time), Zom-B and The Thin Executioner (admittedly not a series). 

And that's only the ones I've read! There are more I haven't yet got my hands on.

The trials of the journey are also some of my favourite moments. The collection of such things like the 'holy liquid' and the 'gelatinous globes', and how they tie together, is genius. What works even better in its favour is the way everything comes together: We learn exactly the same time the characters do what's supposed to be done. It's satisfying as hell.

Harkat's true identity did catch me off guard, and I'm invested to see the bearing that has on the series.

Overall though, The Lake of Souls could easily have been adapted and stretched to fit more than one book, so to get everything that it gave us all at once is an absolute pleasure.

Pace - 4.5/5 Stars

Mostly, the pace is pretty consistent. There's tons of intrigue, suspense, action; but there is a little disjoint from the switch in focus the story takes. 

For a long time we've followed strictly the threat of the vampaneze and their Lord, that the shift - that isn't as sudden as you'd think, this thread of the plot has been alluded to before - can take a couple minutes to get used to.

Overall, it's not much different. The expansive plot and riveting cast have all your focus.

Characters - 5/5 Stars

Darren is not sidelined in this instalment. Despite the heavy investment in Harkat, the main plot is actually a nice parallel of Darren's journey after the death of such a close loved one. He's searching for who he is, what he's supposed to do. He's now been left to stand roughly on his own and face the overwhelming odds stacked against him. I love the reinforcement of Darren's development, but also the traits he's had from the beginning. His half-vampire status and the years of experience he's had have shaped him into a brave, intelligent warrior, but his fierce loyalty and refusal to abandon those beside him, even if it means the destruction of all vampires, is heartwarming.

Harkat is no slouch himself. The reader can almost feel his plight: The desperate need to find out who he was in life before being a Little Person. He mirrors Darren in a lot of ways, including bravery and loyalty. Harkat is also a prime example of the saying, 'don't judge a book by its cover', as his appearance would send the average person running and screaming, but Harkat, if any of those same people were in danger, would lay down his life for them. 

Mr Tiny still proves to be an effective evil (but also kinda good in this entry; his ambiguity at times is deliciously frustrating). He's sadistic, manipulative and disarmingly deceptive. There's definitely power about him, and part of me feels he may be the true 'big bad' of the series. 

There are other characters who play a purpose within The Lake of Souls: Evanna, Spits, Kurda, Debbie, Alice. Many of them aren't prominent, but seeing them and knowing they're there does the novel a huge service. They are unique, engaging cast members, and the potential for them in future instalments has me salivating.

Writing - 5/5 Stars

The Lake of Souls sees that final tone jump. One of the things I love about the series is that its themes and tones etc. adapt with the journey of the story and its main character. As Darren matures and grows and effectively reaches adulthood, so does the writing. 

Overall - 5/5 Stars

Yep, pretty awesome. 

Now onto the second last entry...

I'm excited and sad...

Previous Instalment: Killers of the Dawn
Next Instalment: Lord of the Shadows

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