4 out of 4 stars
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After inheriting his uncle’s property, Galen Bray is just settling in the small town of Magnum Caelum in Voulhire. To continue working at the forge, Galen needs to find iron. So, he sets course to the industrial town of Virko along with his friends, Rowan and Demetrius. The town is governed by Lord Venden Hrelek whose health is rapidly failing. After his demise, his son, Hans Hrelek, would be in charge of managing Lord Venden’s estate. The adventure begins when Lord Venden agrees to the iron reserve requested by Galen in return for a favor. Lord Venden suspects that his son has fallen into the influence of a demon and asks Galen to cleanse his estate of the darkness. Would Galen be able to rescue Hans from the darkness? Or would his attempt change the fate of Virko forever? We Are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko by Matthew Tysz is the second book in the We Are Voulhire series.
It would seem that the author has tried to make this book a standalone novel. However, I would strongly recommend the readers read the entire series in the exact order in which the books are written and meant to be read. Without reading the first book, it would be difficult for readers to appreciate Galen’s character, and the relevance of Rowan and Demetrius joining him in his quest.
In my review of the first book, I had noted that it was a bit confusing to place the story in a definitive period. In this book, Tysz makes it abundantly clear that the story is set in the medieval era. The character development is better in this book. The downside is that, as in the first book, readers are introduced to several characters at once. Keeping up with each of them can get frustrating. I wish the author had added a character summary at the beginning of the book. Galen seems to be the primary character, but in this book, the focus shifts to other characters such as Lord Hans Hrelek, Peter, Demetrius, Lord Kayden, etc. I was most intrigued by Lord Kayden’s character.
This book is comparatively darker and has a gloomy feel to it. With a power struggle ensuing between the merchants and Lords, the fate of Virko also now depends on demons and darker powers vying for control of the industrial town. There is treason, corruption, violence, and murders. The way Tysz has described the encounters with demons would give the readers a feel of actually being part of the scene, standing amidst the chaos in Virko. The author has cleverly woven the societal issues such as homosexuality, promiscuity, and sexual abuse in the narrative. The demonic powers add to the darkness quotient of the story. Apart from severe profanity, there are also a lot of sexual jokes, references to rape, and other forms of abuse. In a way, the author has successfully attempted to bring to light the darkness that resides inside corrupt hearts. The helplessness one might face for being different from society’s expectations is also intelligently handled through the characters. The ending of the book was overwhelmingly poignant. At the same time, by leaving the readers an image of the havoc wreaked in Virko, the author has ensured that the readers are intrigued and commit to the next book in the series. I was so fascinated that I have already completed reading the third book as I write this review.
I would rate this book 4 out of 4 stars. I did not find any grammatical errors. The book is professionally edited. After reading the first book I had thought that the series was geared towards YA readers, but the content of this book, as noted above, is not suitable for younger readers. The violence and references to sexual abuse might repulse even sensitive older readers. To the author’s credit, however, he has refrained from writing such scenes with graphic details, keeping in mind sensitivity of such readers. I recommend this book to fantasy lovers who do not mind dark stories.
We are Voulhire: The Fires of Virko
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