I’m always happy to see middle-aged main characters in fantasy as well as plots that are built around real-life difficulties, such as financial struggles. I loved Thorben’s family and was sad that we saw so little of them since he heads off to go delving relatively early in the story. But thankfully, there was focus on familial relationships elsewhere in the novel as well. In contrast, romantic relationships, aside from Thorben’s existing marriage, were refreshingly absent.
One of the main themes in The Delving is good people being forced to do bad things (both bad in terms of actively harming other people and in terms of simply breaking the law). This translated to complex motivations and relationships between most of the primary characters. The antagonists, however, were conspicuously lacking in nuance. They were big, gruff guys who reveled in violence and had little brain power between them, which I found rather stereotypical and uninteresting.
I think The Delving would classify as horror fantasy, and I have to say that it did succeed in being quite creepy at times. The supernatural elements such as ghosts, zombies, and strange blood vines were used in an imaginative way that gradually revealed some of the history of the dalan while at the same time leaving me constantly scared for Thorben’s wellbeing.
For me, The Delving was a book that got better as it went. The beginning was slow. Once we got into things, I became more invested but still wasn’t hooked until later on when more of the supernatural elements showed up. And the ending was perhaps my favorite part, even though it was a bit predictable.
The Delving is a perfect October read, so if it sounds like something that would interest you, now is a great time to pick it up!