By Mark De Jager
Stratus wakes up in a field with no idea who he is. All he knows is that his name is Stratus and he doesn't seem to be human. He quickly learns that he possesses an in-human strength, natural gift in magic and an insatiable hunger. Well that and the fact that there seems to be a raging beast inside his mind.
Infernal is a book that you shouldn't judge by it's cover - which I don't feel reflects the size of ferocity of the protagonist al all. The cover features a hunched medium sized guy in a cloak, not my image of Stratus at all and not an image the book presents either.
Regardless this is a welcome, refreshing novel within a crowded genre. Infernal is different, it presents a protagonist that is as far from a hero as can be, looking at the world through an inhuman mind. The author does a remarkable job of describing such an individual and using the lack of memory and inhuman character to reflect on the pitfalls and failings of the human condition and the problems with human society. Of course this isn't the first book to do so but Infernal does it well, using a dark humour and well placed violence to create a unique voice.
I loved Stratus, it's clear from the beginning that he isn't a man and that makes his sometimes otherwise uncomfortable actions more acceptable whilst also being a message about how we don't just anthropomorphize other creatures but also expect them to act within our narrow definition of right and wrong. Stratus does of course act as a vehicle to explore mankinds own strengths and weaknesses.
The quality of the writing is outstanding, painting a vibrant picture of the world along with the myraid people and creatures that we stumble across. The pace is good and the story entertaining, if a little linear. There is of course a bigger picture than just Stratus losing his memory and I'm eager to see where the author goes next with this story.
Infernal is a great book, it's dark but funny and hugely entertaining. It's also clever, gripping fantasy that makes strides to further the dark fantasy genre. Highly Recommended.
Written on 23rd September 2016 by Ant .