Ghouls who feed on rotting flesh. People who slowly turn to stone, becoming living statues with incredible strength before they petrify completely. Minions made of wax, burning like living candles, capable of inhuman feats. Ethereal creatures that can absorb both body and soul. Beings made out of living worms, commanding powers so terrible that could melt the flesh from your bones. Immortal Gods who can alter reality. Take a stroll around Guerdon and chances are you'll stubble across half of those creatures at the same night.
"Change is simultaneously a fast and a slow process. The great forces of history are slow-moving and unnoticed by those surrounded by them, visible only in hindsight where they appear inevitable."
Grimdark is a loose term. A lot of people have tried to define this relatively new sub-genre of speculative fiction, but opinions vary. What makes a work grimdark? Does it have to be nihilistic, immoral or violent? Should the protagonist be an anti-hero or even a straight up villain? Does the world portrayed have to be a cynical, disillusioned or dystopian place? Should it all be grey and not at all black or white? Should there be no hope? Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers. And yet, if you ask those same people what they think about Prince of Thorns, The Darkness that Comes Before, or Beyond Redemption, you'll get one answer. Grimdark. They may not agree as to why, each one of them may list a different reason, but in the end all of them will agree that it's Grimdark. They'll just know. Because Grimdark isn't something that you can define. Grimdark is something you feel. Now if you go around and ask those few people who've read The Gutter Prayer, or if you're patient enough to wait a few years before asking thousands of people the same question, chances are you'll get the exact same answer. Grimdark. Pure, unadulterated Grimdark.
What makes The Gutter Prayer so special though isn't that it's Grimdark. It's that it's weird. And I mean weird in every kind of sense. The narrative is unorthodox. The plot is bizarre and grotesque. The characters are eccentric and the world is peculiar and borderline absurd. I uttered "whaaaaaaat", "oh come on!" and "what the actual fuck did I just read..." more times than I can count, and yet... And yet, when I finished I knew that everything was exactly as it should be. This was a crazy ride, the craziest one I've been in a while, and I wouldn't change it for the world. The only thing I could possibly ask for is "more".
The Gutter Prayer is, undoubtedly, the debut of the year, and I won't be surprised to see it sweeping every award next year, including our very own BookNest Fantasy Awards.
The Gutter Prayer is out on January 15, 2019. You can pre-order it HERE.