Review: The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan - 9/10*
With his imaginative characters, creative plot and twisted creatures Hanrahan proves that fantasy can still be original.
This is an exceedingly exciting adventure of thievery and treachery. It’s immediate and gripping. It doesn’t mess around and quickly launched me into an extraordinary new fantasy world. Hanrahan is an exceptionally talented writer, and I do not hesitate to say that this book will receive heaps of claim from readers and critics alike. It truly deserves it.
The story begins with an explosion, an explosion that ruins the heist the three protagonists, Cari, Spar and Rat were undertaking. They have no idea what has happened or why it has happened. They have been set up as the world descends into fire and chaotic madness. They have been left for dead and without any answers. It’s a sign of things to come, of the powerlessness they posses in a game where they are only considered as mere pawns. The plot only becomes darker as the world becomes richer and more vivid. There are secrets to be unearthed in the dark streets of Guerdon, and I was surprised on several occasions with the direction this took.
I don’t want to give anything away but let me say that this book contains some of coolest creatures I have read about in years. The Tallowmen are wax contructs made to resemble men and created by mages to carry out their bidding. And they are quite terrifying. They are such a great idea. Fantasy novels that depict new and interesting creatures, that are completely original, are always worthy of attention. Just think about it, how many original fantasy monsters are still being created? Not many, at times it all feels like the same regurgitated versions of the same thing.
So, I was delighted to read about new and interesting monsters that were accompanied by such successful and strong world building. This world is loaded with history, and it’s slowly revealed as the characters navigate its dark depths. It ticks all the boxes as the characters are also complicated and interesting individuals. Spar is plagued by a disease that will end in his ultimate demise as he slowly turns into stone, Rat is a ghoul that feeds off dead human flesh and Cari has a secret past that threatens to topple everything she is. And the dynamic between the three is electric.
Hanrahan is a strong new voice in fantasy, one that will resonate very loudly with fans of Scott Lynch. Both writers have a keen eye for detail when conjuring up their respective worlds, and they both know how to create complex plots that go in unexpected directions. They both write about thieves and cut-throats in a grimdark fantasy setting, so if you like The Lies of Locke Lamora then The Gutter prayer is certainly the book for you. I recommend it wholeheartedly.
There are simply not enough books that focus on thieves in fantasy, and this helps to fill the gap tremendously - A very strong 9/10
This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review, thank you Orbit!