Book Review: Snakewood by Adrian Selby

Who here is tired of me reviewing books yet? Yeah, I’m not tired of it either. I was really intrigued by the synopsis of Snakewood.

Mercenaries who gave no quarter, they shook the pillars of the world through cunning, chemical brews, and cold steel.

Whoever met their price won.
Now, their glory days are behind them. Scattered to the wind and their genius leader in hiding, they are being hunted down and eliminated.
One by one.
I  did read through to the end, but there was a lot that this debut novel suffered from. It also did several things passably. Let’s start with the good. The world building is interesting. If you pay attention to the small details there is a rich a vibrant world hidden in the prose. The initial mystery of what happened was also enough to keep me reading through to the end, even if some of the reveals about specific characters felt terribly telegraphed. On the flip side, maybe those reveals were just foreshadowed really well. If I ever re-read, I’ll have to look closer to determine. Whelp, that’s enough praise.
The book itself is too long for the story it’s trying to tell. There were several portions that just felt extraneous and I felt like the story could’ve improved from some precise trimming. Losing about 10% might have helped speed up the pacing so that it didn’t feel like so much of a slog to get through. My other major complaint was the characters. You can call them realistic characters, but none of them were likable characters. The protagonists that the novel works with don’t really redeem themselves in any way by the end of the tale. It’s hard to care about them when they’re all equally as bad as the antagonist that’s hunting them down. Finally, a minor complaint: the voice of the different characters didn’t really differentiate themselves enough for my liking. Different points of view told in the first person narrative all ended up blending together a bit.
So who should read this novel? Someone who has patience for a long winding narrative and unsympathetic characters presented in a novel and fairly interesting manor would probably enjoy this novel. Fans of low fantasy and novels that are presented as found text may also enjoy this novel.
Who shouldn’t read this novel? If you’re looking for a straightforward narrative with lots of magic, you should probably steer clear from Snakewood. I would also avoid the novel if you’re looking for something with a quick pace that leaves you wanting more after each chapter.
And now, just some final thoughts. This wasn’t a terrible book. I feel like it set up a lot of promise for a future novel with a subplot that wasn’t resolved in the current novel. The world is interesting, and I think Adrian Selby is going to offer some good quality in the future.
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