A Prison of Flesh by Joshua Banker
1st DISCLAIMER: I received this book in exchange for an honest review.
2nd DISCLAIMER: I picked up this book not knowing it was the 2nd book of a series. My review is based off reading only this book and not its prequel.
So to start off, I’m a little unsure where to begin to be honest. The book begins to describe the crumblings of a city without actually saying how it crumbled. It mentions what theories people have and how they are accepting the tragic events (or how they refused to believe any of it happened) but glosses over it as an action of the ancient gods. [I do get that, maybe I can read what happened in the first book?]
We learn about three women, two of which will be the main characters early on in the story. Having several women, and very independent on top of that, being the focal point is a refreshing change! Jehn is a girl who seems to be in her college years attending school to keep her nose out of trouble. Her school is about to break for the holiday and Jehn is off to visit a friend of hers, Zoe, who is the other main character. I could pick up on their bond from the beginning, but I wish the author would have dropped a few more hints along the way to explain the history their relationship. We know Zoe is a bit older, enough to hover between friend/older sister/almost mother depending on what’s going on. As soon as Jehn arrives, both women are pulled off to be mercenaries on a ship. Zoe is hired and Jehn tags along in hopes of an adventure and supporting Zoe. They meet an on-and-off lover of Zoe’s and discover it’s his ship they’ll set voyage on. Their “adventure” belongs to a librarian (a historian to us) who is quite secretive about his true intentions. He claims he wants knowledge and history of previous civilizations, but is vague on the details and the amount of danger he’s putting them into. The third woman brought in the beginning of the story shows up at the very end of the book to help save the day, which felt a bit out of place.
While I liked the overall story, the pace in the first half of the book was a bit too slow. It wasn’t until the ship finally lands on an island, the librarian’s destination point, that the story actually picks up. However, once the book reaches this point, there is plenty of action, dialogue, and movement in the story to keep me interested. Perhaps this was because I didn’t have any previous knowledge from the first book to fill in some of the slower parts, but I digress. I won’t dive into the end of the story, but it was well rounded that if another book were to follow, great! If not, you didn’t feel like you were left on a cliffhanger either.
I was happy that the love interest in the story didn’t cause any weird twists and turns in the plot. The women were strong; they were challenged; had their own fears/obstacles to work through; and they weren’t twitterpated. 🙂 SEE Disney’s Bambi for reference. (Or just know that it means they weren’t punch-drunk in love.)
As for the writing style, I’m adding this at the end because it may not affect as many people as it did me, but the author wrote much of the book in the past perfect progressive tense. Every time I picked up the book, it took me a bit to get into the flow of it. The author is quite descriptive in their vocabulary, but I felt like it was just a hair off. I understood the picture they were painting, but it felt like the situation when you and a friend are trying to describe a color: You both know you want something deeper than blue, but your definition of “teal” is more like their definition of “turquoise.” You get it, and it doesn’t cause any real ruffles, but the connection just feels a bit off. As I said, it doesn’t affect the story, it was still quite easy to understand and relate to, but those were just a few pieces that kept catching my eye.
As a whole, I did enjoy the story-concept. It felt like we were learning about the gods of the ancient world, and more importantly why they don’t exist anymore. I will read the other books in the series (staring with its predecessor), and as long as you start from book 1, I do recommend it. 🙂 I’d give it 3/5 stars.