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The Book of the Crowman (The Black Dawn) Mass Market Paperback – February 25, 2014
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Praise for the Black Dawn Duology:
"D'Lacey's passages are rife with urgency, and... its message on environmental issues, meticulous setting of scene, and successful intertwining of the characters' narratives makes for an engaging read."
“A bold beginning to a new duology from the brilliant D’Lacey – where two children embark on a search for meaning that is riddled with ambiguity about the nature of the saviour they seek and which, ultimately, provides a siren call to live in harmony with the land.”
- Alison Littlewood, author of A Cold Season
I highly recommend this to any fans of horror, post-apocalyptic type books. Loved it, loved it - I want the next one already.
-Thoughts of a Scot
"...full of powerful and beautiful passages that while written for this fictional Earth, are also very strongly advocating for us as a people to take better care of the Earth we live on."
-Wilder's Book Review
“Spectacular is the word I’d use to describe the novel. Nothing else can capture the reading experience.”
-The Founding Fields
"It's dark and it's grim, but it's also magical...wondrous, even."
-Beauty in Ruins
About the Author
Joseph D’Lacey is best known for his shocking eco-horror novel Meat. The book has been widely translated and prompted Stephen King to say “Joseph D’Lacey rocks!”.
His other published works to-date include Garbage Man, Snake Eyes and The Kill Crew. He was named the winner of the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer in 2009.
When not realising his fantasies on paper, he dabbles with Yoga and continues a quest for the ultimate vegetarian burger recipe.
He lives in Northamptonshire with his wife and daughter.
You can find Joseph online at his website as well as Twitter (@JosephDLacey) and Facebook.
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Top Customer Reviews
While there is no doubt that Joseph D'Lacey is a preacher, he at least couches his message in an entertaining framework. In fact, I thoroughly enjoyed Black Feathers, and had no trouble absorbing the environmental message contained therein. With that ecological message getting mixed up with some deeply religious symbolism and allegory here, however, I found myself drifting away towards the end.
Before we get to that, let's talk about what entertained me. The intersection of Gordon and Megan's narratives was both interesting and complex, with greater significance given to the narrative junctions after the fact. There were some incredibly powerful scenes here, both of a brutally violent and a breathtakingly intimate nature. Take, for instance, the scene where Gordon slips into strange campsite and discovers the cannibalism taking place. The young bodies trussed up, with heads and genitals removed, blooded but not yet skinned, make for an arresting image, and the eye-for-an-eye revenge that Gordon enacts is as cathartic as it is savage. Consider also the scenes with young Flora, the sickly, crippled, extraordinarily bright young toddler with a connection to the Crowman. She reminds Gordon of his humanity, and grants him the hope and the faith that he needs to continue, even as her plight breaks the reader's heart.
The twists, turns, and revelations entertained me as well. There's a point at which we discover the truth about the letters from Jude, Gordon's sister, which just about floored me, leaving me stunned and deeply impressed. There's a change in our understanding of Mr. Keeper that was as entertaining as it was surprising. There is a significant betrayal in the latter stages of the book that probably should have seen coming, but I still found myself surprised by its power. Finally, the character of Rag Man honestly shocked me, with the revelation that he's a character we already know and hate, and never expected to make a return appearance.
Unfortunately, a lot of that overshadowed by the heavy-handedness of the message. Black Feathers made it clear we were dealing with an ecological message warning of our impending doom, but The Book of the Crowman keeps pushing it, throwing it in our faces, and demanding that we listen. Something I didn't notice in the first book, but which severely tainted my enjoyment here was the Christian allegory. (view spoiler) It's not just that the religious allegory holds zero appeal for me, or that it does nothing to make me believe in the struggle, it's that it completely telegraphs the end of the story. Goodbye suspense.
As for the end, I found it completely unsatisfying, and not just for the reasons above. It felt flat to me, anti-climatic, and unfinished. It's full of hints and suggestions, but it offers nothing in the way of a concrete resolution. (view spoiler) In case you haven't guessed by now, faith and I don't get along so well.
I'm sorry if it sounds like I'm dumping on it, because it was an interesting story, well-written, with a really unique protagonist. It's just that The Book of the Crowman strayed too far from what I expected, and went too deep into waters I had no interest in being baptized by. From a thematic and mythological standpoint, it's probably a fitting end to the story, but from an entertainment standpoint, I found it personally lacking.
D’Lacey has created a beautifully written book that is in part an apocalyptic tale, and also a story with fantasy elements. Whether you love Sci-Fi or Fantasy, this is a book that lovers of all types of speculative fiction will enjoy. The tale follows a young boy and a young girl in a journey to adulthood. Their tales are told simultaneously even though they lived hundreds (or maybe even thousands) of years apart. The boy is Gordon Black. He lives in England during the apocalypse and is prophesied to find the Crowman. The Crowman is a spirit of the earth, and he represents all the human race needs in order to save themselves. The earth is dying from human abuse, and Gordon knows the only way to save the world is to help the Green Men, those a that have a bond with the earth. But the fight won’t be easy as he has to battle members of the Ward, which is comprised of men who want to continue to dominate the earth. Because of the prophecies they are hunting Gordon, and they will stop at nothing to get their hands on him.
The young girl is Megan Maurice, and she lives in a time long after the apocalypse, when the only people left are those that live entirely off the land. Her society is completely environmentally conscious, and works hard to stay that way lest they cause another Black Dawn. Megan is chosen as the last keeper: it is up to her to tell the story of Gordon Black and the apocalypse, and to make sure that everyone heeds the story of the Crowman. Megan and her teacher are both imbued with a kind of magic that let’s them see visions and travel to other times. If Megan can’t become a keeper, then Gordon will have gone through numerous hardships for nothing. But the Black Feathered path to becoming a Keeper is far from easy, and Megan does not know whether she has the strength to finish.
This book is an environmental novel at its heart, and its message is one that is extremely important. It is one of those stories that I wish everyone would read because D’Lacey writes in a way that brings real issues of how humans treat the earth to the forefront of his plot. But even if the message of the book does not move you, the writing certainly will. The author is brutal and honest, and writes in a way that makes his story come alive to the reader. His writing is flawless, and he can make even the darkest scene feel beautiful.
The plot can be a bit slow in part I, but in part II it really picks up, and it becomes hard to put the book down.
The only negative thing a have to say about this book is that the ending left me a little unsatisfied, and wanting more of an explanation. In a way though, the ending fit the story well, and left the reader open to her own interpretation.
Overall I would give this book an 8.5/10, which is the highest rating I have given so far! It is an amazing book, and I highly recommend it.
I received an advanced reading copy of this book from Netgalley and the publisher in return for an honest review.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the second and final (I think) book of THE BLACK DAWN.Read more