Author: Kirby Crow
Cover Artist: Kirby Crow
Rating: 5.00 of 5 Stars
Publication Date: 01/01/2016
Length: Novel (~ 50K-100K)
Genre: Fantasy, Alternate Universe/Alternate World, Gay, Menage/Poly
Marion Casterline is the highwarden of Malachite, an ancient, beautiful city floating in a shallow sea. In the aftermath of a brutal gang war, there is finally peace in the city, and new life every year through the sacred ritual of Aequora. Through Aequora, exiles, outlaws, and orphans can become citizens of Malachite. This ritual is vital to the city’s survival, because Malachite is populated only by males.
Jean Rivard grew up in the Zanzare slums at Marion’s side. As boys, they were branded into the violent Teschio gangs ruling the criminal underworld of Malachite. Known in the slums as the Prince, Jean became a spy, an assassin, and Marion’s lover. As men, they worked together to destroy the Teschio and crown Kon Sessane as magestros of the city, only to drift apart after the battles were won: Jean to the Black Keep, Marion to the grand halls of the Consolari.
When Marion announces his engagement to Kon’s son, Jean is hurt and resentful. Marion is leaving him and their past behind in every possible way. Marion also believes that he’s starting a new life, but when a charismatic rebel leader kindles a revolt in the slums, he realizes that the only man who can prevent war from devouring the city he loves is his very own prince.
This was my first book of the new year, and if this is anything to go by, this year is gonna be amazing. Seriously, I can’t believe how fabulous this was.
Fan’s of Kirby should stop right here with the review and just start the book. The less you know is always the better, in my opinion 😉
MALACHITE is a high fantasy with a setting that is so unique that you won’t find it anywhere else. Imagine an isolated island with a society of solely exiled men. Imagine power struggles, outlaws, and pirates, and think of struggling for survival and freedom to live in a safe place.
I won’t lie, the beginning of the book is rather epic—I personally even found it challenging—because we’re thrown right into this mess of a world, not only in the present but also in the past. There are names and places and races and, geeez, I’m glad I started taking notes when reading books a while ago. I have a bad memory for details, that’s why.
There is a huge pay-off, though, because the world Kirby creates is so alive and vivid. It’s like you’re travelling the streets and canals yourself. You experience the feel of the different houses and places and you don’t even want to go everywhere because not everything is safe.
30 years ago, there was a man, a gang leader, a legend who forged the lives of two of our main characters, Aureo Marigny. In chapters alternating between the present and several times in the past, we’re introduced to Marion and Jean. We get to know how they grew up and forged an unbreakable bond, and how they freed themselves and Malachite from the tyrant that was Aureo.
The life of a wolf cannot be retold as a lamb, but Aureo was neither, was nothing so ordinary. In his world, Aureo had been a Kraken: a beast of incalculable menace that rises with the storm, covers the land and savages man and nature alike before vanishing as quickly as it appeared. Unknowable. Invincible.
Today, Malachite is a safer place, but it’s still far from perfect. Not only is there a huge gap between the leading rich class and the poor remaining men of the gangs, there is a new secret player in Malachite who threatens to disturb the peace even more.
MALACHITE is full of intrigue, secrets, twists, and surprises. The tension and suspense is constantly growing and you never cease to want to know more, to get behind what is going on, what secrets the characters keep from each other and from us, the reader.
The main protagonists are Marion, Jean, and Tris, through whose eyes the story is told in alternating point of views and chapters. This is absolutely well done, because all of them have a distinct voice. It was great to get to know each of them—well, at least to get to know what they would tell you 😉 And I think it worked really well with the plot development.
Marion, Jean, and Tris have a very interesting relationship—and I’m not really talking about the romantic one here. How their feelings towards each other change and develop was so very fascinating to witness. Till the end I wasn’t sure where this was all going and it kept me at the edge of my seat.
To give you a few snippets…
Jean and Marion:
A cricket chirped near them, opening a chorus as they stood with the rain pelting them softly, locked together by their shared past, unable to find a future together.
Jean and Tris:
Jean pulled back and stared, his heavy brows knitting together. “Aw fuck, are you crying? Don’t do that. I can’t do anything about that. Stop it!”
Tris and Marion:
Tris sees me for the man I always wanted to become. He sees only the best part of me. When that happens to you, when that dream comes along, you can’t help reaching for it.
Well, if you want to know how the three of them come to a very satisfying place, you should definitely read the book, and I won’t spoil it for you.
The cast of important characters, however, is even larger. A very important role is also played by Kon, Tris’s father. We will see more of him and his partner Mica is the next book, as I could see from Kirby’s interview.
I think it’s extraordinary how different and realistic every single one of the characters is. Every important character, the villains, the minor characters, they give life to the setting that was amazing to begin with.
Near the end of the book, there was one part that I felt was a bit bumpy regarding the flow of the story. I would have loved to see two scenes between Kris and Marion that took place off-page, and the battle ended kinda a bit abruptly. It took me out of the story for a few pages. The rest of the book, however, was so outstanding that I still give all 5 stars and will put the first book I’ve read this year on my favourite shelf.
I hope you will give this gem a chance. Highly recommended.
Content warnings: dubious consent, violence, brutality off-page
This review is based on a copy purchased by the reviewer independent of any review copies offered.
I have a number of paperbacks, most of which are signed, to giveaway. Over the between now (11 Mar 2017) and 31 Mar 2017, every comment on the blog (this post and all other new posts), will be entered to win 1 of these paperbacks. There are also some misc swag items, so there will be a few packs of these to give away as well.
Thank you so much for your support over the last 4 years. Prism will be closing its doors on 1 April 2017. All content will remain available, but no new content will appear after 31 Mar 2017. As such all request forms have been turned off. Again Thank you,
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