I love fantasy novels and steampunk, but I’ve always preferred quieter, more character-focused stories, so I was honestly surprised by how much I enjoyed action-packed One for Sorrow. It’s a busy mixture of spy/thriller/detective genres, and filled with unexpected twists and characters that are instantly loveable – or at least memorable! The main character, Benjamin Sorrow, could be seen at first as a bit of a cliché; he’s retired young, from his work as an agent of the mysterious ‘Society’, for mostly unexplained reasons since the death of his parents. When some unexpected events turn his quiet retirement upside down, he’s forced back into action and soon proves that his talents are as sharp as ever. Although it’s not necessarily new ground, Benjamin’s character is well-defined and has a pleasing calmness that sets him apart from other classic agents. He makes mistakes every now and then, and quietly sets them right; clearly doesn’t take pleasure in defeating the bad guys, but refrains from constantly agonising over the morality of killing them if necessary – which I found refreshing. The other main character, who is more of an antagonist than a protagonist (at least at first), is Borell – a thug for hire by the biggest stack of money. I found myself growing to like Borell more and more as the book went on, revealing more layers than I thought there would be. Though he starts out as nothing more than a killer in it for the money, I ended up rooting for him. He also tends to be the one to provide the comic relief, which is necessary in a book that’s so fast-moving and full of gunshots and stand-offs. Though there is a romantic sub-plot, it’s not very well-developed, but I think this is a good decision – it makes me want to read the next one in the series, and also it avoids any OTT love scenes or forced romantic interaction. I do hope that it becomes more of a plot in the sequel, though, as it could provide some pauses in the action. It would also allow us to get to know Lilly and Andris a bit better; currently their backstory and characters are less in focus and it would be nice to have some more female POV in a book that’s currently rather male-dominated. My favourite character (though she was only a minor one) was Mary, the housekeeper: she provides a comforting sense of home and familiarity, and any time she was threatened I was on edge until she got through it safely! Overall, the plot left me with more questions than it answered – though that’s probably a good thing! We only get the briefest glimpse of the villain of the story, and his grand plot is barely explained, though many of the puzzle pieces are beginning to come together. The overarching concepts, however – a device that provides incredible amounts of power and people who want to use it for their own ends – never becomes too complicated. I also found that the author never loses his sense of scale; though we are focused on a small group of characters, the awareness of the wider world he has created is always in the background. I really enjoyed One for Sorrow and look forward to its sequel!
This book was sent to me for review purposes. My review is honest and any ideas and opinions are completely my own.