Review: “Mourning Cloak,” Rabia Gale

Pros: Beautiful descriptions; fascinating characters; intense imagery
Cons: The cities/peoples got a little confusing
Rating: 4.5 out of 5

Rabia Gale’s Mourning Cloak (Taurin’s Chosen Book 1) is a short but intense read. Kato Vorsok, who works simply mixing drinks, guards his home and business with an unusually expensive array of magics. That precaution seems sensible when a dark creature, a mourning cloak, comes looking for him. But unlike others of her kind, she knows his name and speaks with him as though she has individual memory and identity. He senses a link between her and his dead wife, Sera, and when she escapes from him he feels compelled to follow despite the dangers that lurk in the night. His hunch regarding her seems justified when she protects him from another mourning cloak who tries to kill him, and he takes her to a temple of his people despite the fact that he’s been disgraced in the eyes of his religion. Years earlier he’d led an army against the mysterious creatures that have a history of hunting and killing his people, only to fail and run. Now he’s going to need to stop running–to confront that failure and face his grief over the loss of his wife.

The writing style is vivid and intense. I have strong visual images of the world in which Mourning Cloak is set, and that’s always impressive. The characters had a great deal of personality, and fit quite a bit of history into the small strokes that were outlined as the story went along. I love the dark, intense building up of a world in which danger lurks around every turn and horrible creatures prowl the night. There’s a whole ecosystem of critters and specters built up. If anything I would have liked to see more of the day-to-day as the story began.

The only real difficulty I had was that there wasn’t much information on the peoples/cities, and I had to cobble together the scraps that were there. Again, a little more day-to-day information might have cleared that up. It’s intense when a story concentrates only on danger and upheaval, but it’s a risk. Sometimes the reader ends up missing useful context.

I really enjoyed this novel, and look forward to reading the follow-on next!

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