Ironically, after I stated publicly that I didn’t have time to do book reviews I find myself doing a second one within a week. I just finished reading A.F. Stewart’s Ruined City, a book I’ve had sitting on my must read shelf since we left Australia. I was pleased, impressed and moved to make myself a liar (again) and review this book.
I have always enjoyed A.F. Stewart’s work. Her wordplay is instinctual and she reminds me of Poe with a little King mixed in. She is classically dark with a touch of the maniacal. I am of course speaking of her work. In life Ms. Stewart is a great support to authors both beginning and established. Her writing, however, is diabolical… and I mean that in the good way.
Ruined City, her latest work, is a thing of beauty. One of my few complaints of Ms. Stewart’s past work is the lack of continuity within a tale. The first book I read, Once Upon a Dark and Eerie, was well written but the micro short stories left me dissatisfied and hungry. The next I read was Killers and Demons, a much more filling book of longer tales that I enjoyed… but in Ruined City Ms. Stewart has an enduring work.
Ruined City is the tale of a cursed city seen over time thru the eyes of the inhabitants. From the servants to the king we are privileged to candid insights that guide us thru the connected tale of worry and woe. Even the demons themselves are not safe from our prying eyes as we witness the story from their perspective.
My favorite part is that of Elderen and Nisee, two lovers that enjoy their first kiss as the last thing they know. Fatally optimistic, they are a perfect example of how a positive outlook can overcome the worst of all situations. Even in death there can be hope.
Pros: A wealth of imagery brings the Sapphire Palace and the surrounding town of Elowen to shimmering life. The back story is detailed and believable. The characters are well fleshed out, even as it is being torn from their bones. The horror is nicely balanced with plot. There’s no sense of gore for the shock value. When blood spills in Elowen it moves the story forward. This tale is well-edited, concise and immersive.
Cons: There was one paragraph where I noted a typo that caused me to re read for clarification but otherwise I really have no complaints. It is a shorter read, but it is so perfectly balanced I think making it longer would just create drag.
I’d recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a more classic style of literature. Ms. Stewart’s writing is mentally stimulating and has the descriptive feel at times of a distilled Dickens – all the description without all the pages. Ruined City is focused, hard and brilliant like a cut jewel held up to the light. Every way we turn it reveals another fascinating plane to contemplate.
A.F. Stewart’s books are on Smashwords and in print are on Amazon. She can be contacted on Twitter, Pinterest, and Goodreads or thru her blog. More contact info is available on the recent spotlight I did on Ruined City before I read it.