Book Review: The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan

book review

The Shadow Saint by Gareth Hanrahan

Publisher: Orbit

Publication date: 09 January 2020

Genre: Fantasy

Page count: 592 pages

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free, but may contain spoilers for The Gutter Prayer.

 

The Gutter Prayer tied for my #1 book of 2019, alongside The Bone Ships, and I was eagerly awaiting the release of The Shadow Saint. I was worried that the second book wouldn’t live up to Hanrahan’s incredible debut, however I should have had more faith! The Shadow Saint is a very different, but equally brilliant book.

 

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Enter a city of spires and shadows . . .

The Gutter Miracle changed the landscape of Guerdon forever. Six months after it was conjured into being, the labyrinthine New City has become a haven for criminals and refugees.

Rumors have spread of a devastating new weapon buried beneath the streets – a weapon with the power to destroy a god. As Guerdon strives to remain neutral, two of the most powerful factions in the godswar send agents into the city to find it.

As tensions escalate and armies gather at the borders, how long will Guerdon be able to keep its enemies at bay?

 

The Shadow Saint takes place a few months after the events of The Gutter Prayer, and the city is still reeling from the Gutter Miracle. The Shadow Saint doesn’t feel like a traditional sequel for a number of reason — it is a little more dense than the first book and we follow new themes and story lines. Most prominently, however, we do not follow the three point of view characters — Cari, Rat, and Spar — from the first book. Instead, the story is told mainly from the perspective of a spy with many names and identities, a washed-up younger son of the Haith nobility, and former historian Eladora Duttin — a side character from the first book and one of my favourite fantasy characters ever. At first, their stories seem disconnected from the plot of the first book and I was wondering if I had mistaken a companion novel for a sequel, however the points of view eventually begin to intertwine and each character’s motivations become more and more clear. In this way, The Shadow Saint is a direct sequel that manages to feel like it has grown well beyond the first book.

While The Gutter Prayer gave the reader an intensive look into the city of Guerdon as a setting, The Shadow Saint spreads beyond Guerdon’s walls. We get to see and learn much more of the wider world, especially in the context of the ongoing God’s War. The book still primarily takes place in Guerdon, however The Spy has connections to foreign saints and Terevant’s begins the story in Haith and his culture and traditions play an important role in his actions and thought processes. Eladora, while a resident of Guerdon, also adds a layer of rich context to the story with her connection to the Gods and the Keepers. Each of these characters is so wildly different and intriguing that I had no issue shifting between their points of view. Once their story lines begin to merge, The Shadow Saint kicks into high gear and is a masterpiece. The way that Hanrahan builds upon the world in the first book is wonderful and so characteristically unique.

I went into this book knowing very little and it was an absolute pleasure to unpick the layers of Hanrahan’s story. Beautifully written and expertly plotted, The Shadow Saint is a magnificent sequel and an absolute joy to read. If you liked the first book, you’ll love the sequel.

 

Want to pick up a copy of The Shadow Saint for yourself? YOu can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):

Book Depository | Blackwells

 

Have you read The Shadow Saint yet? What about The Gutter Prayer? What did you think? Let me know!

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