When swallowed, some souls gift insights, wisdom, a path to understanding. Others unleash power, proficiency with a sword, and indifference to death. One soul assimilates with ease. But swallow a host of the dead and risk a descent into madness.
Estranged from his family over the murder of his wife, young Raze Anvrell wields his fists to vent his rage. Then a chance at a new life beckons, and he retreats to the foothills of the Ravenwood, the haunt of unbound ghosts. He and his mentor build a freehold, a life of physical labor and the satisfaction of realizing a dream. They raise horses and whittle by the fire until the old man dies, and Raze swallows his first soul.
When his brother reaches out, open wounds begin to scar. But the tenuous peace won’t last. While those who rule the Vales yield to the lure of their ambitions, slavers of Ezar roam the countryside, hunting for human chattel. While one man manipulates the law, another heeds the souls of violence howling in his head.
Raze too listens to his soul’s whispers, and as danger intrudes on his quiet life, he has no choice but to return to his father’s world and join the fight.
This is my first D. Wallace Peach book, but it certainly won’t be my last.
As a regular visitor to her blog, I’m familiar with Peach’s lyrical poetry that carries readers away to unexpected places – and this novel is no different. The world-building is magnificent, and the premise of people swallowing souls to absorb their characteristics is mesmerizing. With political maneuvering, power plays and alliances, arranged marriages, slavers – this is a complicated, dangerous world, and I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. Which was hard sometimes, because I wanted to linger over some of the beautiful writing.
This author has a gift with characterization. From the main characters to those who only survive a short while, all are so well-developed. I especially enjoyed the children. As with most tiny humans, their actions and comments are humorous and unfiltered, and I chuckled several times.
Soul Swallowers is an easy 5 stars for me – I finished the second half of the book in one sitting because I couldn’t put it down. Now to download the sequel!