Today I am reviewing ‘Along the Razor’s Edge’ by Rob. J. Hayes. After reading ‘Never Die’ and loving it, I was keen to read more, and I was not disappointed!
No one escapes the Pit.
At just fifteen Eskara Helsene fought in the greatest war mankind has ever known. Fought and lost. There is only one place her enemies would send a Sourcerer as powerful as her, the Pit, a prison sunk so deep into the earth the sun is a distant memory. Now she finds herself stripped of her magic; a young girl surrounded by thieves, murderers, and worse. In order to survive she will need to find new allies, play the inmates against each other, and find a way out. Her enemies will soon find Eskara is not so easily broken.
This book is a masterclass.
I could almost sum up my love for this book in that sentence. Along the Razor’s Edge is beautifully, skilfully written to create a dark, brutal and consuming narrative.
Sometimes, I struggle with reading first-person POVs, but not here. In part, I think because of the interweaving of flashbacks, and glimpses of the woman that Eska the MC has become and what she had endured. Knowing that she has survived to tell her tale and seeing how the past is woven into her present, and how the future has changed her view of those same events, was fascinating, and pulled me completely into her story. There is also the fact that Eska is such a fascinating character, she’s young and has already seen far too much of the world, but despite that, she is still a teenager. Her decisions, her emotions, and the way she interacts with the other characters are relatable, even when they are frustrating. Especially, with the added depth, of the older Eska reflecting on where she had gone wrong, on the fact that she was young, and too emotional, mistaking lust for love, for example.
This level of character development is not limited to just the MC. The entire secondary cast, from allies to antagonists and everyone in between are beautifully developed and believable. Whether you liked the character or not, you were invested in their part in the story.
The worldbuilding is superb and cleverly developed and revealed, layer upon layer being peeled back to reveal more throughout the book. We spend most of the time following Eska’s life in The Pit, which is described so vividly that it is impossible not to feel how bleak life is down there, the dark, the press of rock and loss of freedom. Yet, the flashbacks to her life before The Pit, and the flashes we are given of what is to come, build up an image of the broader world, in a tantalising way without betraying too much, and in stark contrast to The Pit. Not only has this left me wanting to know more about the world beyond The Pit, and about the magic system. But those glimpses mean that it is impossible not to understand Eska’s longing not only to escape but to have revenge for what was taken from her, even if her childhood/education were questionable.
The magic system is fascinating, and although we were learned quite a bit about Sources and Sourcerers through the flashbacks and what Eska herself talked about, it feels as though we have only just scraped the surface and I look forward to seeing this develop in the next book. My favourite form so far is Impomancy. The glimpses we were given of The Other World as well as Eska’s ‘relationship’ with Ssserakis, and her reflections on this form of magic, left me desperately wanting to know more and see the full depth of what this branch is capable of.
Along the Razor’s Edge was a darkly, intense read that gripped me from start to finish, perfectly paced, and balanced between past, present and glimpses of what to come. Honestly, I can’t recommend this book highly enough, and I am very much looking forward to delving into the second one this week.
Along the Razor’s Edge (The War Eternal #1) – Rob. J. Hayes (Self-published 30th March 2020) – ***** (5/5 Stars)
You can find more about the Author HERE
If you’ve read it, or read it in the future, please feel free to shout at me about this fantastic book. I will be reviewing the second book in this series ‘The Lessons Never Learned’ this Sunday (10th of March).