E-ARC, 552 Pages
By: Rob Hayes
Rating: 🌟🌟🌟🌟 1/4
“Hah! Well, that’s life, isn’t it? You don’t ask for a lot of the stuff it throws at you, but you either look at it like a gift or a curse, and then figure out the rest from there.”
Never Die ★★★★★
Pawn’s Gambit ★★★★
Spirits of Vengeance ★★★★ 1/4
Spirits of Vengeance is the third book in the Mortal Technique series which is a series of standalones. There are connections to the previous books and characters that appear in previous book but it can totally work as a standalone with the aforementioned stuff working as Easter eggs.
The story follows Haruto, an Onmyoji who is cursed by the God of Death and whose main job is to hunt the ghost of his wife. Onmyojis are hired to hunt down spirits and are paid for that (Think Witcher). The problem is that there are five legendary and powerful spirits, namely The Onryo who emerged and want to stir trouble and release the most ancient and powerful evil!
I was contacted by Rob to read an ARC of this book and I immediately said yes because Rob is one of my favorite self published authors and one of my highest rated authors overall. I just love his ideas and the way he weaves them into gripping stories. It is no wonder that I loved the prose in this one because it felt atmospheric, funny and formidable!
I first thought the story is going to jump between two different POVs but it turns out that the main characters, Haruto and Kira meets very early in the story so we’re only following one story line. Hayes characterization is always what stands the most in his books, I mean we have an old cursed fighter who is trying to release his wife’s ghost along with his fluffiest yet deadliest companion, an Ungaikyō trying to discover what happened to her. Two old bandits trying to find redemption through different ways.
‘If you can’t fight your way out, talk your way out. And if you can’t do that either, start praying’.
I loved the characters and I really loved how unique they were. Guang has to be my favorite with his bad poems, fatherly affection, vegetable swearing and most importantly, his story telling. I believe those short stories that he told were a very smart, very good addition to the story and I just couldn’t get enough of them.
The world building is great, I am a fan of Japanese mythology in general so finding it explored in this novel made me happy. I loved discovering different Yokais such as the ungaikyō, jorogumo, Nuppeppo…etc! Also the magic system is very cool and there were some very decent fights that made us explore the different powers of characters.
The pacing is good, I thought the novel is a bit long but maybe because I expected it to be a bit shorter like the first two books. That being said, I wasn’t bored, it is just that I think of the first two books as movies and this one more like a series with side quests! The plot is a bit predictable for me, I predicted most of the major events successfully but I did not see the epilogue coming! It is not necessarily a bad thing because most plots are predictable for me and I thought the foreshadowing was good here and that the way the story headed was one of the best ones, so I did not mind this predictability!
“We live in a world of people passing their pain to others. It shouldn’t be that way.”
Summary: A very solid entry in the series and it topped the second book for me. The prose, characterizations and world building were all amazing and I really enjoyed the story despite some of its predictability. I am glad I was given a chance to read an early copy and it goes without saying that I am excited for whatever Hayes comes up with next!