After reading the two prequels to THE LIGHT OF DARKNESS high epic fantasy series by Catrin Russell, RIGHTEOUS DAWN and THE REDEEMED, and loving them, Book 1 of the series proper, THE POWER OF CONVICTION, was next on my list.
I thought the prequels had been amazing but what I found in this book was an adventure extraordinaire! But let me give you a quick glimpse into the story first…
Anaya is a senior priestess of the Temple Village and under Ekelon, the High Priest, whom we have previously met in the prequel The Redeemed, together with abused criminal youngster Edric who is also now a senior priest, we get to know life as a priest or priestess serving the Goddess and fighting demons and their Darkness with the Light of the Goddess.
This all sounds like a classic tale of good versus evil, if it was not only for all the shades of grey but also for all the other colours in the rainbow that show that life is never as straightforward as one wishes it to be perhaps.
Anaya meets demon Samael who has a very different view on the priesthood’s activities and the High Priest’s motives in ordering the slaughter of all demonkind. Anaya is devout to the cause, yet starts to question things progressively, the more often she meets Samael. Samael who keeps appearing and disappearing however the Darkness he wants, which is quite infuriating and made me wish more than once to kick some butt.
Besides these two, there are more characters that play important parts in the unravelling of the story, subplots and changes in POVs that are clearly marked so the reader never gets confused, which I find important when changing scenes, POVs and having time leaps within a chapter. Russell stirs these water excellently, however, so unless your brain doesn’t work at full capacity you will find it easy to follow the story and the different subplots and strands that weave together in the fabric of the story throughout the book.
Another thing I would like to point out that has particularly impressed me in terms of her writing skills and plotting are the fighting scenes. They are brilliantly crafted, precise, logical in their fluency of motion and never out of place. Keeping up accuracy while bringing the story forward at a rapid, urgent pace is something many authors have failed at and is, therefore, particularly noteworthy.
The third aspect that is worth mentioning in particular is the worldbuilding and concept of magic in this story. Fantasy stories can take a bad turn when info-dumping in the beginning to describe a world and set up the pictures in the reader’s mind. That can lead to overwhelm and overload on the reader’s part. I am happy to announce that this book deals with the matter in a refreshingly different way.
Descriptions are woven throughout the story and the images and information are built in the reader’s mind in a fluent and contextual manner that makes it easy to take in and enjoyable when one finds out yet another morsel of information about Russell’s brilliantly crafted and well thought-out fantasy world that can possibly most be likened to a sort of medieval setting with magic and demons.
Violence is graphic, sometimes gory without passing the line into the horrific (in my humble opinion), and the romantic scenes between adults, although quite innocent and slowburn, are nonetheless not fade to black. I would say, they are perfectly written for the context of a high epic fantasy novel. Romance has its rightful place as a couple of the subplots of this epic tale but doesn’t dominate the story, which keeps well in line with the genre.
Now to my personal experience of the book. I absolutely loved it! From the first page, I was drawn in, my mind leaving the mundane to firmly settle in Russell’s fantasy world. I fevered with the characters, read the narration out aloud to myself, stood, with book in hand, in the middle of the room, re-enacting the battle scenes and biting my nails at the folly of star-crossed lovers. I would message my friends who have already read this book about the events I was reading about, sharing my enthusiasm, my despair, even my tears.
Yes, I cried with Anaya and Edric, rejoiced with Vixen and clutched my heart with Eden and Lenda, an innocently sweet young couple whom you cannot help but love and wish to protect. They are so inherently good and pure of heart. I wanted to slap Edric upside the head a few times and kick the demon Samael’s behind several times as well. I don’t know how many messages I began with “OMG!”, having come to a twist I had not foreseen at all and the surprises kept coming!
The very last surprise, however, was the final sentence. It ended the story, yet at the same time, it felt somewhat like a cliffhanger, even though it wasn’t at all. So I snatched up Book 2, The Path of Salvation at once and read the prologue which had me in tears all over again right away. However, then I decided to better write this review first to observe the break in the story between books.
I cannot begin to tell you how much I crave to read more of this story, how thrilled and excited I am that all six volumes are on my shelf and waiting for me to work my way through them from cover to cover, spending sleepless nights yet again, because I just cannot put the books down, just like it happened with this one.
The love to detail in things, places but also people strikes just the right balance between beauty and overload, the author’s writing style adept in conveying urgency and speed as well as peace, slowness and tranquillity, as is required. Catrin Russell is not one of my two favourite fantasy authors for nothing. And for someone who usually gravitates towards contemporary romance or historical fiction, I might add that I am probably harder to please in this genre than a fantasy fan.
For all that, Russell’s skills in captivating her audience and making a story and characters, even an entire world come to life in a way that it literally tears me out of my seat to mock-fight and slay demons as well as read the story out loud to taste the story with all my senses, eyes, tongue and ears alike, is quite a feat. And she did it effortlessly. I am beyond impressed. But most of all, I am deeply grateful for such an amazing and exciting reading experience and the fact that I have five more books in this series to enjoy hereafter. Because let me assure you, this tale is epic!
Books by Catrin Russell
A KINGDOM SCARRED SERIES
DARKNESS DIVIDED SERIES
Deathfall Wraith (Prequel 1)
Follow Catrin Russell on Social Media
Catrin Russell is a Fantasy and Romance author from northern Sweden. Her books are all written in English and are mainly part of the Epic and High Fantasy Genre. However, she does use influences from Dark Fantasy, and a touch of Fantasy Romance.
Growing up outside a small town, basically in the middle of nowhere, Catrin eventually moved to Stockholm, where she studied computer game development and design. Meeting her soon-to-become husband online, she lived outside of London for the best parts of a year, before finally settling down in Piteå, back in Sweden. Since then, three children and two dogs have joined the family.
With a background in design and holding a degree as a registered nurse, she writes novels in medieval settings, with plenty of action and romance. She often brings moral struggles, or highlights issues in society, into her writing. Another subject that is often highlighted is mental health.
Catrin also creates concept art, bringing her characters to life on the screen, and her own cover designs, much of which can be seen on her social media pages.