After 40 years of peace, the land of Candor is once again in turmoil. The streets are painted in blood, monsters emerge from their lairs, legends and ghost stories hide a terrible truth, and terrifying beings are ready for their return.
An ambitious young king. A son in search for his father. A desperate sister. Three individuals whose choices, whose struggles and fears and dreams will shape their world. The question is, will they save and preserve their way of life, or will they doom Candor to eternal slavery and darkness?
With the first instalment of Keys of Candor, Casey Eanes and Seth Ervin went for a fast-paced, addictive story laced with fascinating lore and constant action and suspense, and in this department, they succeeded. There was not a boring part in The Red Deaths; it’s one of those books you read in one sitting, eager to follow the heroes and the antagonists in their respective quests. Your attention never falters, and before you realize it, you have reached the last page, wanting more.
However, even though it’s a truly enjoyable ride, there is something missing, as if the story needs more layers, more depth, more processing in order to be complete. The world-building is blurry; what you think is a fantasy setting becomes industrial, featuring many instances of modern (and futuristic) technology, without a sufficient explanation (and foundations). It dances between genres, indecisive about its identity. As regards the writing style, while it was smooth in general, there were some descriptions that felt rather awkward, and a few cases of head-hopping that led to momentary confusion.
Now as for the main characters, while not all of them were particularly likeable, they were interesting. Kull was an innocent soul thrown in a pit of vipers, unable to grasp the meaning of the events unfolding before his very eyes. Willyn was, well, unstable and despite her misfortunes I couldn’t actually sympathize with her because she was constantly blinded by rage. And then there was Seam, a megalomaniac king that committed terrible sins in order to achieve his aspirations. I can’t say that I connected with any of them, but they all had their own unique spark that made them distinguishable.
The Red Deaths was an easy, intriguing story that every reader will probably enjoy. I wish the authors all the best in the competition and their future endeavors.