First published in June of 2011, Canadian author Brent Hayward's second novel entitled 'The Fecund's Melancholy Daughter' found itself within ideal company with ChiZine Publications.
The once great city of Nowy Solum is slowly decaying from the inside out. After the Gods deserted the city, the citizens of Nowy Solum took to a new, more bitter and self-involved way of life. Within the confines of her great castle, the city's chatelaine spends her days and nights partaking in drunken orgies. Her father, the castellan, having been moved to the castle's dungeons long ago, now spends his time dissecting and modifying the local creatures for what could only be a questionable goal.
Outside the walls of the castle the people are made up of mostly poor and hardworking folk, as well as a large proportion of kholics, whose outcast status has led them to performing the most hideous and unwanted of jobs. For they are not like the hemos. Instead their blood is as black as coal, and their faces heavily tattoo from soon after birth.
When the chatelaine spots a beautiful kholic girl with her twin brother, she is instantly besotted by the kholic girl's unquestionable beauty. Taking the girl - Octavia - away, the chatelaine dotes heaviy on her; slowly but surely working on a new forbidden relationship. But her twin Nahid won't let his sister be simply snapped up just like that. Not even if it was by the chatelaine herself. Together with his hemo girlfriend, Name of the Sun, they succeed in a drug-induced revenge by removing one of the chatelaine's prized pets from her chamber - her cherub.
With the chatelaine's life quickly falling apart, news of a giant God making its way to the city gates is yet further misery to be bundled upon her. And sightings of the three women Gods (bless them) flying over the city is bringing its limited days to a final point. Finally, a limbless child by the name of path makes his way to the city in a sling over his father's shoulder. A child whose destiny is etched in the city's final days.
Gods will do battle. The heavens are open. The mighty will undoubtedly fall. Debauchery and corruption are losing their stangelehold on the once great Nowy Solum. And in the depths of the castle's dungeons, the great monster known as the Fecund is labouring over more life. There may be no hope left in the world. Only time will tell...
Hayward's tale launches head-first into the puzzling dark fantasy world that he has so intrinsically created here. Like a Salvador Dalí masterpiece transposed into words; the re-jigged and imaginatively formed world draws vague similarities to some of our own by-gone eras. The city of Nowy Solum echoes of the early life of cities such as Edinburgh - with its manic and grimy streets, a vast underbelly which is home to the poorer from its society, and ultimately the cramped, oppressive and claustrophobic nature of the city's construction. Indeed, the world that Hayward has elaborately created is not too dissimilar in feel and essence from that of Stephen King's epic fantasy world of the 'Dark Tower' series.
For the novel's construction, Hayward plays with a whole host of seemingly chaotic threads of storyline; intertwining, overlapping and masterfully dancing them around each other. Ultimately, these threads and subplots will of course converge into one. However, along the way, the reader is thrust about this haphazard and dauntingly surreal storyline with almost reckless abandonment.
Barley a page goes by without the reader having to decipher and ponder upon the novel's contents and its current direction. The great strength and clinging enjoyment of the tale is in its puzzling and wildly elaborate nature. Hayward's imagination is truly let loose throughout the length of the tale. The result is a living, breathing, and constantly shifting story that alternates between its many threads, mesmerising the reader with the constant outlandish acceptance of its own dreamlike premise.
Characterisation is staggered and more suggestive than carefully developed. This doesn't underplay the progression or involvement of the story in any way, but instead, leaves the reader to fill in the gaps and play around with the mystery of the characters to a larger extent.
The creation of the so-called 'Gods' is a magnificent jest on religion and a clever social commentary on the misguided conception of the idols man (hemos in this case) establishes, and the whole madness behind the tradition of worship. Intentional or not, the smugness behind the reality of the Gods is certainly well deserved.
The ending is as manically chaotic as the rest of the novel had been. The tale finales quite spectacularly in its own way; although there are a few loose threads that seem to have been swept aside to make way for the more dramatic and audacious storyline to come to its final fruition.
The novel runs for a total of 244 pages.