Sunday, January 05, 2014

Edi's Spotlight: Darkwalker by E L Tettensor


Dear Readers,
welcome to my second review in 2014. I work on my New Year's resolution which means in this case to write and post 24 reviews.
Is it good or bad when I quote myself? Normally I try to avoid that. But in this case I just use what I wrote on 14th of December 2013 about the discovery of the book I review today.

It still happens. I see a cover, read a blurb and know immediately that I must have a copy, a paper copy. This was the case when I discovered Darkwalker (pb, digital 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0451419989; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B00C5QULVK] by E L Tettensor which is the first book in the Nicolas Lenoir series.

For me it was a superb read and like a lot of other books I read within 2013, it deserve a review.  So I decided to share my opinion about the Hounds of Autumn with you which may give you some arguments why it is worth to get a copy and read it.

Book Store Information
In general my decision to read a book is mostly based on the cover and the blurb/synopsis delivered on the back cover. You do not get more information when you are in a book store. The world of books is changing which means I also will take in account blurbs and descriptions on GOODREADS and other places.
Here we go:

Darkwalker (pb, digital 2013)
[ISBN-13: 978-0451419989; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B00C5QULVK

"He used to be the best detective on the job. Until he became the hunted...

Once a legendary police inspector, Nicolas Lenoir is now a disillusioned and broken man who spends his days going through the motions and his evenings drinking away the nightmares of his past. Ten years ago, Lenoir barely escaped the grasp of the Darkwalker, a vengeful spirit who demands a terrible toll on those who have offended the dead. But the Darkwalker does not give up on his prey so easily, and Lenoir has always known his debt would come due one day.

When Lenoir is assigned to a disturbing new case, he treats the job with his usual apathy—until his best informant, a street savvy orphan, is kidnapped. Desperate to find his young friend before the worst befalls him, Lenoir will do anything catch the monster responsible for the crimes, even if it means walking willingly into the arms of his own doom…...
" [Source]

My Expectations
What more shall I expect as a most entertaining book with a Victorian setting and an antihero after reading following statement:
" E L Tettensor  likes her stories the way she likes her chocolate: dark, exotic, and with a hint of bitterness." [Source]

The Delivery
The 360 pages are divided into 26 consecutively numbered chapters and an epilogue. Narration is in the third person via several different point-of-views, whereupon the most parts are told from Nicolas Lenoir's point of view.

I As I mentioned above, I saw the cover, read the blurb and ordered a copy immediately. The paperback arrived a few days later and I had a closer look.
Nicolas Lenoir ,that sounds French in my ears. The clothing of the man on the cover is in Victorian style. I know this because I sewed something similar last year. But neither the cover nor the blurb offer any information where and when the story takes place. It is charming to see how I have been convinced that Darkwalker takes place in Victorian era. This raised my curiosity to a new level.
I belong to the kind of readers who can't resist to get more information about towns, rivers, countries, dishes, drinks and more used in a book. English is not my first language which is the reason why I need a dictionary from time to time.
That said I sunk into the first chapters.

Nicolas Lenoir is the broken man as described in the blurb. He works in Kennion. Together with Brackensvale - with around 200 inhabitants a real backwater hamlet, Denouth, North Haven and Berryvine they are known as the five villages. To my surprise none of these villages exist in England. So my assumption to get a story set in England has been wrong. Several years ago Nicolas Lenoir has been a legendary police inspector in Serles. A town in France? No. The only Serles I found is an Austrian mountain. Nicolas Lenoir likes to eat steak serlois. Does that ring a bell? It sounds really similar to serloin steak.  He has a marked preference for absinthe. Bingo!! Absinthe has been a famous drink in the 19th century. The people use horses and carriages for transport. They know flintlock and crossbows.  horses,

Conclusion:  E L Tettensor created her very own and unique world. She did it in a way that the reader feels familiar and smoothly peregrine at the same time. This is excellent because it intensifies the mesmerising effect of Darkwalker. Such a basement - which is sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time -  is the nearly consummate stage for an intensive, dark and emotional story and striking characters.

Darkwalker is not a one-man show. Based on all information delivered by the cover and the story, Nicolas Lenoir and a lot of other people are similar to us. In other words they are human beings. But there is also another, ancient race named Adali. If would play in our world it would be gypsy to act as Adali. They are a poor race as they are constantly faced with the prejudice to be vagabonds and thieves. Little is known about their culture and as we all know missing knowledge lead to distrust and hate. And when adjectives like magical and supernatural comes into play, it heatens animosity. It is a culture clash.
 The Adali are he exotic touch in Darkwalker beside Darkwalker. Darkwalker? Yes, there is .........   It is up to you to discover Darkwalker in Darkwalker.

Before I add a few words to  Nicolas Lenoir, it is worth to talk about two three other characters. The young boy Zach reminded me of the Artful Dodger, a character from Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens. Mark my words. I said reminded and not copy. It is a talent to create a unique character in such a way that you as a reader get the impression that you know something about this character. Zach is a trigger for some events and has his own story.
I talked about the Adali. On of them is Lady Zera. She tries to establish a position in human society. She is intelligent, eloquent and witty. But she is also afraid that any  Adali rumor will have a negative impact on her way into society.

Nicolas Lenoiris a police inspector. He works together with Sergeant Bran Kody. The young man is in many ways like an image of the young Nicolas Lenoir when yonder entered the police.  You may imagine what it means to work together with a broken man whom you constantly remind of the past.

Nicolas Lenoir who is heavily laden with events of his past which he tries to drown  with a lot of green fairy which is another expression for absinthe. He does not treat Sergeant Bran Kody well. To be honest this is an understatement. Nicolas Lenoir is no friend of the police routines he has to follow and he makes no secret of it. I know another brilliant detective who used drugs and doubted police methods. No, I will not name the detective I have in mind, If you can't guess then follow THIS LINK.  I admit that I did not like the inspector in the beginning. I even thought I would not like him until the end of the story. But that changed .........

Again as she exercised her world building, E L Tettensor  did a great job with her characters. They are sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time. I have been impressed by the character development especially of Nicolas Lenoir.

Now it is time to speak about the plot. At first sight there is a "whodunit" crime novel blended with dark magic. But there is so much more. There are people who either try to find their place in society or to find their place at the job or to find a home ..... Furthermore there is Nicolas Lenoir with the burden of his past, the current events and an unknown future.  And there is the Darkwalker ....

It is a real joy to read how E L Tettensor  cope with the cornucopia of themes, topics and emotions . Believe it or not all the stuff mentioned is interwoven and delivered with a Victorian and slightly gothic touch. Not one thing works without another. Dialogue, inner dialogue, action, descriptions are wonderfully composed and delivered in a prose which fits perfectly.

I do not beat about the bush.  E L Tettensor  pulls no punches. The story itself is a dark one. People are hurt physically and mentally. Nevertheless the use of violence is not exaggerated.

Finally you should know that Darkwalker has a real end which let you leave the story satisfied BUT with the urgent need to read more about the past and future of  Nicolas Lenoir  ,,,,,,, and   .... Darkwalker .... and .... the history of the world E L Tettensor has created ... and ....,,

The Inevitable

I did not like the story!  I LOVED IT!!

E L Tettensor  delivered a strong debut with Darkwalker. Plot, characters and world  are sophisticated and down-to-earth at the same time.

You want to read a dark crime mystery with Victorian flair, an intriguing main character,  thoroughly world building and an satisfying end which leaves you with the urge for more
Darkwalker is your book of choice.

These are my totally subjective closing words

I can't wait to read the sequel. Do I have to bother the author in order to get a date for the next book? NO!
E L Tettensor has been so kind to deliver this information in her GOODREADS profile:

"The sequel to Darkwalker is due December 2014." [Source]

 E L Tettensor delivered more information about the sequel in an interview over at My Bookish Ways.
"The sequel to DARKWALKER, tentatively titled MASTER OF PLAGUES, comes out in December 2014. I’m really excited about that, because it’s a very different kind of mystery than its predecessor. Hopefully, Lenoir will be making an annual appearance after that."

That will be a wonderful Christmas 2014 for me.
What about you? 
Keen to read Darkwalker (pb, digital 2013) [ISBN-13: 978-0451419989; Kindle Edition ASIN:  B00C5QULVK] by E L Tettensor ?

In case you are still not convinced then I recommend to discover the world of E L Tettensor and Nicolas Lenoir by
- visiting the official website,
- reading and excerpt and an essay by following THIS LINK,
- reading the interview over at The Bibliosanctum -
- reading the interview over at My Bookish Ways
- following the author on Twitter
- following the author on GOODREADS


Rosalie Skinner said...

Darkwalker looks wonderful. What a great review. :)
Another one added to the list to be read.

ediFanoB said...

Dear Rosalie,
thank you for your kind words.

I loved the book and the review is the result.

I'm sure I will not run out of proposals for your to read list :-)

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