« The Ingenious » was a very good surprise ! I was a little anxious about this read because, if the book’s presentation appealed to me, I was afraid it’d be very dark, as fantasy tends to be, with graphic violence à gogo.
But fortunately my fears were unfounded: if the town of Athanor where lives the heroine, Isten, is for a huge part of it a pit of injustice and misery, and if the story tells about deaths and violence, nothing is unbearable, no gratuitous scenes of torture and death are offered to the supposedly avid reader!
A great read for people like me, who like imaginative fantasy books but don’t stand reading about atrocity.
The world imagined by the author is original and fun to discover along the story. The atmosphere is meticulously depicted (maybe a little to much on the grim side, as the descriptions about piss, vomit, rats, decrepitude, blood, filth are omnipresent) and makes for a credible and comfortable read.
Despite the world’s complexity (Athanor is a very special magical town and we won’t fully understand how much it is before the half of the book), the story is well written and easy to follow; not strenuous effort is demanded to remember complicated details (another frequent flaw of many fantasy books).
The characters are good, and the heroine is very likeable. Her psychology is coherent with her history of a chosen one who didn’t ask to be chosen as such, and who struggles to cope with her unbearable responsibilities and the consequences of that burden – her addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Magic is central in this book, but never explained in details, as « magicians » are the reigning people in this world, superior men who despise all commoners. Magic is described as a kind of an alchemy, powerful and mysterious, with beautiful metallic devices which give a slight steampunk vibe to the book.
A very good read, satisfying and intriguing!
(I thank Netgalley and Angry Robot for sending me the ARC in exchange for my honest review)