Auring's Wrath (Leviathan Book 1) by Justin DePaoli - SPFBO 2020 Book Review

Write on: Tue, 07 Jul 2020 by  in SPFBO 2020 Read 3013

For my second SPFBO 2020 book review for BookNest, I review Justin DePaoli's Auring's Wrath.

*Minor spoilers ahead*

What It’s About:

Lyra is a huntress of the Grym Covenant who has never quite fit the mold; her inquisitiveness and masterful fighting skills set her apart from the other huntresses. Oskar is an adventurer with a personal secret he wants no one to know; in the meantime, he’s looking to make coin, find love, and hopefully save his parents, as long as these aren’t accompanied by too much risk. When the two cross paths, they are unknowingly set forth on a dangerous path neither could have imagined – a terrifying discovery of a centuries-old mystery involving god-like beings and ancient artifacts with world-destroying capabilities.

What I Liked:

Auring’s Wrath includes a lot of exceptional characters. The way in which Oskar portrays himself to others as selfish and annoying is simply a mask he wears to hide his true nature: a selfless, heroic leader; Lyra’s anger, confidence, and loner attitude are attributes she’s gained due to a harsh upbringing and past betrayals; the Barrowin, Neph, is a courageous and highly intelligent being who has experienced countless acts of discrimination, yet his loyalty knows no bounds. And these are just the main protagonists. There’s also the supporting characters like Hesse, the eccentric scientist who lives in a labyrinth and studies its various enigmas; and Monith, one of the elders of the Grym Covenant, whose secrecy and leadership can be both cruel and necessary. 

DePaoli has also attempted the difficult task of incorporating cross-genre elements. There’s a truly unique magic system that allows users to attune one’s body to different secretions found underneath the various dominions, and use these secretions to interact with different properties. For example, Lyra can attune metal, using the secretions to magnetize herself to her weapons. If she throws a dagger, she can then launch herself to connect with it midair. I’m not sure that I’m actually doing this awesome magic system justice with my description, but it is really cool. And then there's the science fiction element to the story that includes a virtual intelligence and eye melds that allow users to discover certain information about people and creatures that they come across. 

There’s a mystery in this story that has a lot of moving parts and a whole lot of potential, and that I found myself wanting to discover with the protagonists again and again; however, this also leads to the issues that I had with the novel.

What Didn’t Do It For Me:

While the mystery itself had me engaged, it felt convoluted for much of the story, and by the conclusion of the book, I felt like there were still too many unanswered questions. These questions included how the multiple elements (eye melds, virtual intelligence, other-worldly beings, ancient artifacts, and events that occurred in the past) all fit together. At one point, Oskar makes claims that everything that is going on is very confusing. Well, Oskar, I felt the same way.

Another problem that arose for me was what seemed to be a misuse of some of the characters. Certain characters who were introduced and seemed important to the overall story and mystery, ended up falling flat, while other characters who were important to advancing the plot, disappeared about three quarters of the way through the book. One of these characters was integral to making important discoveries and connecting the dots.

My final issue that I had with Auring’s Wrath was that of the major threat. Due to the fact that the antagonist known as The Collector isn’t actually introduced until about three quarters through, and then not shown until about the last 15 pages or so, the threat level never felt too high. I knew there was something scary out there (and The Collector’s minions were always around to make the protagonists’ lives difficult), but it didn’t feel urgent.

It’s entirely possible that many, if not all, of my issues with the novel will be addressed in book two, but it felt like somewhat of a disappointing ending to an otherwise engaging and fun story. That being said, I did enjoy much of Auring’s Wrath, and may even be enticed to read the second installment of the Leviathan series. If you like strong characterization, distinctive magic systems, witty dialogue and banter, and the potential for a truly unique amalgamation of genres, then Auring’s Wrath might be for you!

Last modified on Tuesday, 07 July 2020 16:45

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.