Reviewer: Andrea Murray
In Southwatch it’s important to keep the faith.
When the Temples to the Goddess north of Southwatch are burned and followers of Dione are murdered, Hierocrat Catherine, a bard of the Caelimane Temple, sets out to find those responsible and to bring them to justice. With only the help of a traveling group of minstrels and a retired fae investigator, Catherine must solve the mystery before more people are killed, but will she succeed when she finds herself pitted against members of her own Temple, rogue members of the Seelie Court, and a seemingly unstoppable army of undead?
This novel is part of The Darkside Codex, which is owned by Musa Publishing. It seems to be a collaboration of steampunk authors who’ve created a collection of stories about the city of Southwatch, a city with a dangerous, deadly pollution issue. However, while this pollution is in part manmade, it has been “enhanced” by the supernatural fae community as a punishment to the humans living there. So, reader beware; there is a lot of back information to this novel. Once I stopped trying to figure out all of the back stories and just read for the sake of reading, I enjoyed parts of this one.
The novel is a strange mixture of genres, and that both bothered and intrigued me. It’s dystopian, supernatural, steampunk, and somewhat post-apocalyptic. The people outside the monster city live in thatch-roofed houses while using droids and “mechanicals” in daily life. The protagonist, Catherine, accompanies a group of traveling minstrels in old-fashioned wagons then sports a bulletproof cat suit to search out a group of “undead” creatures. Maybe it’s just me, but I like when a novel has a clear setting with defined boundaries, and I had no stability.
However, I did enjoy parts of the novel. The writing was overall clear and easy despite all the eccentricities, and it had a ton of action. There were a few inconsistencies in the details and LOTS of description (maybe too much) of appearances and clothing. I wish it had been longer, and the budding romance between Catherine and her hunky Traveler had developed. I also had hoped for more mystery. I don’t want to give away the ending, but it fizzled a bit for me after a huge build-up. There just weren’t a lot of choices for the villain, and it was pretty surface-level sleuthing to figure it all out.