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The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge

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The Carnival of Ash by Tom Beckerlegge
UK Publication: March 2022
Reviewed by: Book Worm
Rating: [★★★]

This ARC was provided by Rebellion (via NetGalley) in exchange for an honest review.

One word review – Dark. Three word review Dark, Dark, Dark

Synopsis from Goodreads: Cadenza is the City of Words, a city run by poets, its skyline dominated by the steepled towers of its libraries, its heart beating to the stamp and thrum of the printing presses in the Printing Quarter.

Carlo Mazzoni, a young wordsmith arrives at the city gates intent on making his name as the bells ring out with the news of the death of the city’s poet-leader. Instead, he finds himself embroiled with the intrigues of a city in turmoil, the looming prospect of war with their rival Venice ever-present. A war that threatens not only to destroy Cadenza but remove it from history altogether…

My Thoughts: I have seen a lot of reviews that criticise this book for not being a fantasy however I think that could be considered unfair. There are some fantastical elements to the story, there are fairy tale aspects and like many of the fantasies I read as a teenager this book is dark. There are no elves, dwarves or dragons but honestly for me that is not what makes a fantasy.

Initially I found this book difficult to get into as it reads more like interconnected short stories each canto seemingly picking up a new story from a new point of view it was only as we moved further into the book that I came to realise each new canto was building up a history of Cadenza and of the characters we had met previously. By the end of the book I was intrigued to know how it would all hang together and what the reader would learn and from that point of view I was not disappointed.

While it is not a new idea I did enjoy the use of  editing to show things only as the editor wanted them to be and boy did I like the editors once we learn who they truly are.

Who would like this? This book is dark (think early Dragonlance stories without the dragons) anything evil that can be done will probably be done but in amongst that is an intriguing story that builds up to a complete history of a place and people, if you are up for that kind of ride go for it.

We want to hear from you! Have you read this book? What did you think? 

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