We Men of Ash and Shadow Review

E-Book, 296 Pages
Adult/ Low Fantasy/ Mystery
By: H.L.Tinsley

Read this as a guest judge (With FanFiAddict) for SPFBO 7. This reflects my personal rating and opinion and not the final score for the blog!

โ€œWe are men of ash and shadow. We endure the darkness so that others might see the dawn.โ€

This story follows John Vanguard, a mercenary who hunts criminals to atone for his past. We follow him as he tries to investigate the killer of two guards whose bodies are left awash on the banks of a canal. Tarryn Leersac enters the picture coincidentally and somehow Vanguard finds himself mentoring him.

I really loved the writing of this book. Tinsley has a very unique prose that is eloquent without being too flowery. I think it is not the uniquest of stories but the way it is told surely is! There is just the right amount of telling and showing and we are shown things in a very professional manner. I also like the fact that it was not super long, I do love a chunky book but every now and then I read a relatively short book that delivers a whole story in the right amount of pages and this book does that in just 300 pages!

Vanguard is a very interesting character, the characters in this book are kind of morally grey and I loved that Tinsely took the time to introduce each character properly and then laying their back story at some further point in the story which helps caring about them more. I am not only talking about the main two protagonists but almost all of the secondary characters. Tarryn is an interesting character and I did love his story specially at first -somehow it gets jumbled in the narrative in the middle- and I loved how the story ended too with the characters facing more challenges. The characters were introduced gradually and each in a memorable way that made fol;owing them a breath of fresh air!

โ€œI think that (Redacted) always believed if she showed the world enough kindness, that eventually it would show her a little in return. But it doesnโ€™t work like that, does it?โ€

The world is divided according to the social status, it is a world of low fantasy thing where the only magic is the protagonists ability to turn invisible. The world gave me Arcane vibes and it is a setting that I am not very familiar with! Despite the low fantasy settings, it was captivating to see how the author puts her own twists on thing like changing the stereotypical character of the brothel owner!

The story line is good, it is more like a mystery story taking place in a fantasy world. There were many moments of tension that made me fly through to see how will a certain event end and how it would affect the characters. I think some of the motives should have been clearer and there are things that I wanted more from. The story is told in a way that it could have been a standalone or a series -apparently it is the latter- but I went into it blind and did not know what to expect until I finished it!

“It is an unfortunate truth of the world that people will always want to soil beautiful things. They cannot simply let them be. It is why there will always be footprints in the freshly fallen snow. Flowers will grow from the earth and somebody will always want to pluck off the petals.”

Summary: I really enjoyed this story and thought it was a smart and nice prose. The characters force you to care about them and it has just the right length. The story line is not the most fresh one but Tinsley has her own touch for sure. I think I will continue this when book two is out!

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