(I received a digital copy of this book for free on a read-to-review basis.)
Gabriel is a revenant. He lives in a place called `Returning City', which is surrounded on all sides by a forest known as `Eden'.
Gabriel lives with his family - four other boys called Leute, C'hian, Call, and Baital. Each has their own thing that they are good at, and Gabriel is his family's fighter. Every so often he must go to the fighting circle in the middle of the city and fight an `other' - a revenant who does not have a family. If Gabriel wins the fight he gets food, clothing, and shelter for his family, if he loses they will go hungry, and will lose their clothes and house.
One night as Gabriel is going home, he is attacked by a woman called Ryvall and a gang of `others', he then finds his way through a secret door and speaks to a woman called Lamia, who tells him that Ryvall works for a thing called `Exile' who is killing revenants. She warns Gabriel that Ryvall killed her entire family, and that Gabriel's family is next.
After an unexpected summons to the fighting ring, Gabriel is asked to fight a member of his own family - Baital who is much younger and smaller than him. Gabriel can't bring himself to fight properly and loses on purpose, which sets other events into motion; and Gabriel finds himself unsure of whom he can trust, and unsure of what exactly is going on.
It now seems that Ryvall may be a friend, and Lamia may not be. When Ryvall cuts her skin black liquid flows out, whilst his own blood is red. Now Gabriel isn't sure who or what he really is; is he really a revenant? Is his family really his family? Who is killing revenants? Who is Exile? And what must Gabriel do to make everything right again?
That is an extremely simplified version of the beginning of this book, as there is far too much to try to summarise! To be honest I have to say that I was in two minds about this book in places, it is really complex and at times I felt confused, but even when I was confused I felt a compulsion to keep reading! This book is strangely addictive!
This book has an extremely intricate and complexly woven storyline, to the point where I would need to write an essay to even begin to tell you about Returning City, and the background to the story.
Gabriel is not your average protagonist, he doesn't really understand what he is, or how he came to be, but this doesn't seem to be an issue for him at all. He likes to keep things simple as much as he possibly can, he needs to provide for his family, and he does this by fighting. It's as simple as that for Gabriel, and when he finds himself drawing pictures of places he has never been he wishes that he could go back to when things were simple.
At times Gabriel had no clue what was going on, or whom to trust during this story, and I have to say that I was right there alongside him! The reader follows Gabriel along his journey, and learns things as Gabriel learns them, giving the reader an idea of how confused he feels, especially when he wonders if his family has turned against him. All the way through the book I was thinking `What the heck is he?', `What does that mean?' and just had to keep reading to try to find the answers!
This book really does keep the reader in the dark, the same as Gabriel, and while clues are given, it is almost like the story allows the reader to make up their own mind as to exactly what is going on. This is an interesting approach, and one that seems to work in this book.
There was a lot going on in this book, and I think it might actually take a second read through to truly appreciate everything that happens, and the multitude of forces that are fighting for and against Gabriel. This book requires real thought, is not easy to put down, and is not your average `vampire' story.
7 out of 10.
(Book Length: 5070 Kindle Locations)