I’m unfortunately laid low with a debilitating migraine today, but thankfully fellow bookwyrm Paul (of Bookends & Bagends fame) has stepped in to save the day with his guest review of SERAPHINA’S LAMENT by Sarah Chorn, a book I read and enjoyed recently myself. Make sure to follow Paul on Twitter at @P1982E for all things SFF, history, astronomy and writing. My thanks to Paul for being the super hero he is and enjoy his review 😀
SERAPHINA’S LAMENT is a unique read, and as such, one that is difficult to adequately review.
There’s grimdark, and then there are people driven to eat their own legs due to hunger.
There’s lyrical writing, and there’s Sarah Chorn’s sumptuous narrative where poetry and allegory dance and weave like a pair of courting birds.
It’s extremely dark with gloriously embellished writing, so if that’s your jam, grab a spoon and dig in.
SERAPHINA’S LAMENT isn’t your traditionally set western fantasy and instead is eastern-European. It takes inspiration from the Holodomor genocide in which Russia brutally oppressed, starved, and killed tens of millions of Ukrainian citizens.
The story itself takes place in the city of Lord’s Reach and the surrounding villages, hamlets, and farmlands. We find ourselves at the end of the world, with everything and everyone dying — physically and emotionally — because of the ruthless control of Premier Eyad’s collectivist government.
While the world itself is horrifically realised, it is perhaps secondary to the characters themselves, who have the most profound depth. The central cast is lean with Seraphina, Neryan, Vadden, Eyad, Mouse, Taub, and Amiti offering PoV chapters, but this affords such a closeness, allowing Chorn the time to cradle their trembling souls as we bear witness to their flaring pain and guttering hopes.
The complexity of these characters is outrageous, as is the complexity of the story itself.
Everything is draped in layers of emotional fabric, edged with the grimy lace of questionable morality. Reading SERAPHINA’S LAMENT is an undressing of the most intimate and vulnerable nature, as these layers are slowly and delicately removed, edging us ever closer to the raw beating heart beneath.
This is a book that you could — and should — read multiple times as it has a lifetime worth of lessons and will yield new revelations each time.
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