3 out of 4 stars
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Vaylavyne and the Depths of Drasharrow is a science fiction fantasy novel that is full of adventures, secrets, and mysteries. It is the first installment of an upcoming six-book epic Adult Dark Fantasy series by the author, N. J. Femia. This book brings us to a world far away from our own, a strange world that resembles our history’s civilizations.
The story follows the life of Somzoas Luigi Megini, a young man whose destiny soon becomes intertwined with the fate of the universe. As he took a vacation trip with his friends to Mexico, he encountered strange events that point towards an ominous prophecy. But after one fateful day, he was taken to a world full of ancient snake people called the Myzaarrans. The world is known as the “Depths of Drasharrow” and it is ruled by a powerful being called the Pharoah. After learning of the Pharoah’s prophecy to take over the universe, Somzoas, together with a guild of rebels, must act to stop the prophecy from happening. What dangers and secrets await him in this strange, new world? Will he be able to stop the Pharoah and find a way to go back home?
The author does a good job of building up the mystery in the book. He does this through the character of Somzoas, whose nightmares and visions subtly foreshadow the events in the novel. Even the physical characteristics of Somzoas (such as his purple eyes) serve to add something to the mystery’s intrigue.
The author also builds up the mystery through its world-building. He makes use of elements from Roman and Egyptian culture and architecture to evoke a sense of antiquity, which meshes with the prophecy-bent narrative of the book. He also adds medieval and modern institutions (like guilds and museums) to make the world more familiar to its readers, all while maintaining the awe and wonder of Drasharrow.
Unfortunately, my biggest issue is that the story feels dragged out because the author tends to use dry exposition to set out the story’s facts. This can be seen when the book describes the characters’ personalities and history by dumping out this information onto the readers. (The backstory of Somzoas is told as such.) This dry exposition also happens in conversations between characters, wherein one character simply dictates how the society in Drasharrow operates. Because of all of these, the reader is presented with too much information, and not all of them contribute to the flow of the story. This problem can demystify the fantasy aspect of the book.
Nevertheless, the author does great work of setting the world and its mysteries so that he can focus on other aspects of the story in the next books. Overall, Vaylavyne and the Depths of Drasharrow has the potential for a great sci-fi fantasy saga, provided that the author can make the world more immersive. After considering the aforementioned factors, I rate this book 3 out of 4 stars. I can recommend this book to those who are curious about stories with a mix of sci-fi, fantasy, supernatural, and mystery.
Vaylavyne and the Depths of Drasharrow
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