Review: Sacaran Nights - Rachel Emma Shaw
Published: Independently by the author
My Rating: 4/5 stars
“In all the strange I travelled, none festered inside me like Sacara…”
After the great experience I had with this author, and her previous novel Last Memoria back in 2020, I overjoyed when Rachel approached me again with an ARC of her latest work: Sacaran Nights. I’d like to start this review off by a big thank you to her; not just for another great novel, but also for her patience and kindness regarding my delayed review.
Working on an ICU-ward during another peak of a pandemic, made me weary of anything with heavy death-themes for the past few months, making my put off this book again and again. Once I got started however, I was hooked. Sacaran Nights brought me an intriguing, vivid and capturing escape into a dark fantasy world, that I thoroughly enjoyed. While on the surface, it may seem like “a dark-fantasy about death”, that description is selling the book short. Instead it holds another layer about legacy, heritage and keeping our dead alive in one way or another.
Welcome to Sacara: a city divided and permeated by rot, decay and corruption. A city blanketed in perpetual darkness by a vulcanic ashcloud, where the only light comes from the bioluminescent fungi that litter the crumbling walls. A city where the shadows of the dead walk the streets, and the living will go to great lengths to protect their legacies from the corruption that lingers around every corner of their society…
Dagner dreams of leaving the stink of Sacara behind forever. Instead, after the sudden passing of his father, he’s trapped by an inheritance he never wished for, and forced to protect it.
Going into more depth would spoil part of the joy of exploring this darkly fascinating world and its characters by yourself. Shaw doesn’t hold your hand, or spoon-feeds you any of the lore of this world, and instead invites you to do some puzzling for yourself. She trusts you as the reader, and herself as the storyteller to be able to put the pieces together, and I can always respect that in an author.
Like Last Memoria, Sacaran Nights brings a bit of a layered experience that I love in my fantasy. Despite being set in such an alien and dreary world, Sacaran Nights addresses themes that will be familiar (and maybe even comforting) to all of us who’ve ever lost a family-member or loved one. Reading the Thankword by the author confirms that this is, again, a story from the heart. Whether you know this or not; it shows on the page and makes the book a bit better for it.
Sacaran Nights is an independently published novel, available on Amazon, via the link below or the authors website https://rachelemmashaw.wordpress.com/
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