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She Dreams in Blood (The Obsidian Path #2) by Michael R. Fletcher - Book Review

Write on: Fri, 19 Mar 2021 by  in Max's Reviews Read 1151

When I recently reviewed Black Stone Heart, the first book in The Obsidian Path series by Michael R. Fletcher, I was cautiously hopeful that book two – She Dreams in Blood – would be just as good as its predecessor. The second book in any series can be a hard task to complete for an author, both in terms of character and plot development, but also in pleasing the readers while maintaining true to the narrative. Not that it’s all about me (although I suppose it is for this review?), but damn if this isn’t one of the finest sequels I’ve ever had the pleasure of reading. 

With Henka at his side, Khraen continues on his quest to find the missing pieces of his obsidian heart, and in turn, the missing memories of his past. Through wild seas, strange jungles, and a ruthless world governed by a wizard’s guild, they’ll need to navigate their journey with purpose. Every action taken, every plan laid out, must be done so thoughtfully and for the sake of Khraen’s ultimate objective: to take back his long forgotten empire. But power means sacrifice, and in Khraen’s case, there must be blood.

What is acceptable in the quest for knowledge and power? Is there truly a difference between “good” and “evil,” or is it relative to the individual? These are two of the major questions that Khraen ponders in great detail throughout She Dreams in Blood. For Khraen, a man who has a goal, and whose only way of achieving said goal is through what most would consider terrible acts of cruelty and violence, these questions also haunt him with every step forward. I’m not sure that I’ve ever loathed a character for his actions so much as I do with Khraen, while at the same time, fully wanting him to succeed. I shudder to think what that says about me. 

The story is much grander in scale (both in terms of locale and the horrifying creatures and demons that are introduced) and darker in tone (I didn’t think the latter to even be possible). As Khraen’s (or maybe Henka’s? Or maybe Nhil’s) impetus pushes him on a continued quest to gather pieces of his black stone heart, and remember more about his past, so too do the stakes and revelations become much greater. Plot threads that seemed to be closed by the end of book one, manage to reemerge in new and exciting ways; other threads that weren’t quite tied off continue to flourish, particularly those of the relationships – both past and present – between Khraen and Henka, Khraen and Nhil, and Nhil and Henka. Shrouded in dark, ancient mystery, their stories – as well as Khraen’s connections with others – intertwine and drive the plot forward in both fun and terrifying ways. 

While the plot has grown more vast in all of its directions, the connections between characters run deep. A constant wave of trust and distrust envelope Khraen’s relationships with both Henka and Nhil; a budding friendship between Khraen and a new companion, Brenwick Sofame – possibly one of my favorite characters in any fantasy novel I’ve read – makes Khraen want to be better; and an unexpected encounter, and subsequent partnership, with someone once thought dead becomes the proverbial nagging devil on his shoulder, constantly questioning Khraen’s motives and loyalty. 

She Dreams in Blood is an impressive amalgamation of genres: epic, grimdark, and dark fantasy, mixed with kegs full of horror, and a touch of a humorous buddy cop adventure. Often dour and repulsive, occasionally inspirational and fun, always thrilling and thought-provoking – Fletcher has outdone himself in all of the ways his grimdark minions could hope for. 

Thank you to Michael R. Fletcher for the review copy. She Dreams in Blood will be published on April 16, 2021.

Last modified on Friday, 19 March 2021 13:38
Max

Max’s passion for fantastic stories began with weekly trips to the comic book store as a child. Now an English teacher at a boarding school, he is always reading. Max has written for sites like Geeks of Doom and SF Signal, where he created the Indie Author Spotlight. Max lives in Connecticut with his wife – who graciously embraces his need to display action figures all over the house – and daughter, who is inheriting her parents’ affinity for books.