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Review – The Gutter Prayer

This book wade it to my most anticipated under-hyped books of 2019, and it appeared on NetGalley!! I almost freaked out! Almost…

This ARC was provided to me by NetGalley and Orbit in return for an honest review. Thank you!!

The Gutter Prayer

by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan

Synopsis by NetGalley

The city of Guerdon stands eternal. A refuge from the war that rages beyond its borders. But in the ancient tunnels deep beneath its streets, a malevolent power has begun to stir.

The fate of the city rests in the hands of three thieves. They alone stand against the coming darkness. As conspiracies unfold and secrets are revealed, their friendship will be tested to the limit. If they fail, all will be lost and the streets of Guerdon will run with blood.

SET IN A WORLD OF DARK GODS AND DANGEROUS MAGIC, THE GUTTER PRAYER IS AN EPIC TALE OF SORCERERS AND THIEVES, TREACHERY AND REVENGE, FROM A REMARKABLE NEW VOICE IN FANTASY.

My Opinion

Highlights
  • the originality
Overall

Overall, I enjoyed this mystery of a book. Loved the alchemy side and the magical side. I felt it was very original and well thought through. But I have never read anything like this and I’m having issues getting my head around it.

The Story

The story is complex but not overwhelming. It took me some time to figure out what was actually going on. The very first chapter is narrated by the building or something and builds up a heist. It’s weird and confusing. Then the following chapters they are running from the “police”. There is hardly any dialogue in those chapters which adds to the confusion. But I was intrigued at the same time.

As the story progresses it becomes so much more than what the synopsis is. The synopsis indicates that there are only three characters and it’s all about them. It’s not. It’s so much more than that. It’s about the whole city. It’s about the religions in the city, about the thieves in the city, about the saints in the city, about the ghouls and everything else living underground.

It takes some time to get an understanding of where the book is going. It’s like following a running dog you think is loose and running away, but it turns out it’s just after a ball or something. The story reveals itself slowly and I like that, I just didn’t like the confusion in the beginning.

World Building

The world building was a bit steep in the beginning, though I acknowledged that the author spread the information out across the chapters probably to prevent info-dumping, and I appreciate that. I still felt a bit confused for a while and couldn’t get my head around the world quickly enough.

It was an interesting place with an underground railway, magic candlemen guards, god bombs, alchemy, magic as a science and studied at university like maths. Very fascinating.

By the end, I felt I knew more about Guerdon, the city. I hope there is a map in the final print version because it sorely needs it It felt like an old place, but a soulless place. The soul of the place was with the religions and the underground creatures. Guerdon itself was just a structure but an old and worn and loved one.

I love the ending and how the town ended up being.

Magic System

The magic system was interesting in here. I don’t fully understand it, but there was “no foolish wand waving ” as Snape would have said. The magic was treated more in a way we treat science; it was studied and experimented with, something ever evolving and difficult to comprehend. There were several magical creatures and alchemists. Some of these creatures were the results of alchemy experiments gone wrong, or like Gullheads which are creatures created from the runoff of alchemy experiments. They form in the gutters where the bile and fumes get together. Then there were Stone Men who are affected by a contagious disease which slowly turned you into stone. There were ghouls and worm-men (looked like a man but was actually 1000’s of worms held together by a spell). And there were gods. Cruel gods, blood-lusting goods and kept gods. And saints; the representative of the gods. Lastly, there were Tallowmen; humans melted down into wax guards with a wick and an inner light, like a candle.

The alchemy side was interesting. It was mixed with politics and technology, not steampunk but something more original. We don’t see too much of the alchemy development side as the main characters are closer to the receiving end of them.

Most of the magic seems to originate from Gods and the book is heavy with religion (made up religion). There are godwars and several religions clashing against each other in this book. I found the different religions and the portray of the gods their power and the saints and their powers to be very fascinating. The saints don’t just have the power they reach up and drag the gods to them to get more power. Very fascinating.

Characters

The book is narrated by several people including the trio of misfits; Cari, Rat and Spar. But its also narrates by Jerri the thief-hunter, and several others.

Cari is the main character. She is the one most of the story revolves around. I was worried (as I always am) when a male author has a female main character. I worry she will be stereotypical and plain and bland or something not interesting. But luckily Cari wasn’t. I enjoyed Cari as the main character. She is very interesting but I can’t put my finger on why. She was impulsive and rude, but also considerate and caring. She has a certain connection to a higher power and is the main focus of a lot of people in this city.

Spar is a Stone Man and suffers from slowly calcifying cells. He is the son of the previous head of the Brotherhood of Thieves and is unhappy with the current leadership. I really liked him. He is caring and kind but also brave. He is a true Gryffindor.

Rat is a ghoul from the depths of the tunnels under the city. He eats corpses and has a lack of emotional abilities. I like him and find him funny at times. He has an interesting evolution throughout the story that I would have like to get more info on and I felt it was a bit short, but you can’t have everything.

I liked all the characters but I also felt I didn’t connect with them. They just told me a story, I wasn’t living that story with them. null

LGBT?

Nope.

Writing

There were a few stuff I can’t really place my finger on, but there was something that didn’t always fit together or add up when it came to the sentence structure or the paragraph structure. Or maybe it is something to do with the use of words. It’s more obvious in the beginning, and I’m unsure if it fades due to me being used to it or it fades from the text.

There was also some telling instead of showing usually for event or items that had been shown previously but only once then repeatedly told about later on. It almost felt like it wasn’t that important anymore. I would have like things to be more shown even though they had already been shown before. I just wanted a bit more of it.

Apart from that, it was easy to read an enjoy!

Summary

I enjoyed this read. It was not like anything I’ve ever read before. But it didn’t quite live up to my expectations. I’m not sure exactly why or which parts didn’t quite do it. It must be a combination of things which made it just OK but an enjoyable OK book. I was definitely not the biggest fan of the writing, but there was nothing wrong with the writing either. I don’t know…

I’m very happy Cari wasn’t a stereotypical character though.

Have you read this? What did you think?

4 thoughts on “Review – The Gutter Prayer

  1. This book sounds interestng, especially the magic system! Not sure if I will ever read it though..! (Since you say it is just ok haha)

    (www.evelynreads.com)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review, Ivy! I’ve seen so many rave reviews of this one, it’s refreshing to see that maybe it’s not a perfect book after all, haha. I will tamp down my expectations when I go in. Sorry it didn’t connect with you all the way, but I love your thoughts on it!

    Liked by 1 person

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