Monday, August 7, 2017

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark

The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark. Harper Voyager, 2017. Hardcover. 400 pages.
US release (left): August 15th, 2017
UK release (right): June 29th, 2017


Once again, 2017 proves to be a fantastic year fr fantasy with the addition of this incredible grimdark novel. This book was phenomenal, and I loved every single page.

This is true grimdark, meaning it is dark, full of gory details and violence, and spilling with characters whose morals lie int he grey area of life. The Court of Broken Knives a devastating duet of beauty and cruelty that weave together to create a breathtaking that is impossible to step away from.

The first thing that caught my attention in The Court of Broken Knives was the writing style, which embodies an extremely strong, almost poetic voice. The opening page is so striking and different from other books that I almost felt as if I needed to re-read it a few times just to take it all in. Off the bat, I wasn't sure if I liked it. I thought I did, but then I also felt that if the entire book was written exactly like that paragraph, I might get tired of it. As you can see, I didn't get tired of it. This book has an almost stream-of-consciousness-esque form at times, but the most prominent moments in which this occurred were also the most perfect moments to use this style. Violent scenes and high intensity moments were incredibly mesmerizing, and the Spark continues to use this style throughout the book, though it varies somewhat in style and intensity at various moments throughout the book. Together, it all worked to create something wholly unique and endlessly entertaining.

Another positive note about this book was that I was interested in each and every character in this book. We get the perspective of a four main different character, most of which are in third person, but one occasionally occurs in the first. I found that switch between first and third to be an interesting choice, but one that really stuck out in a positive way; it almost made me pay more attention and seemed to draw attention to certain points of the story.

I think the worldbuilding was done really well, and guess what!? There were dragons! Not a lot, I confess, but there were actual dragons in this book. Do you know how many fantasy books actually have dragons? Not nearly as many as there should be; dragons are a hallmark of fantasy and yet I feel as though so many fantasy books lack them, but I digress. In addition to the dragons, the world itself felt in-depth and carefully planned out, but it wasn't too overly complicated or confusing. I was able to work out who was who and what place was what and I really appreciated that.

Look, I can logically understand how people might not enjoy this book and its style, but I personally think it's brilliant. Some people complained that the plot was "too simple," but I really didn't get that from it. I thought the plot itself was interesting and truly fit the entire tone of the book perfectly. My impression from this book is that there is much coming in the next book, that this book has set up something none of us can guess -- of course, I have no idea what, but I can just feel it, and I know it's going to be good.

I know I've kept a majority of my review somewhat vague on the details, but I've done that on purpose because I really don't want to spoil any aspect of this book for you. I think the enjoyment level of this book is increased greatly if you go into it just knowing the basics and with an open mind to the story, the characters, the world - it's so much fun to explore, and I encourage you to do so!

As for Anna Smith Spark being dubbed the Queen of Grimdark, I think it is absolutely deserved and I wholeheartedly agree with the notion. This is a definitely a book that I will be rereading to savor and enjoy each and every page. Overall, if you like strong literary voices, grimdark, or fantastic immersive fantasy, then definitely pick up a copy of The Court of Broken Knives! Five stars!





You might also like:
Soul of the World by David Mealing
Kushiel's Dart by Jacqueline Carey
Red Sister by Mark Lawrence
Nevernight by Jay Kristoff


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