Thanks to Edelweiss and Henry Holt for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: Available Now
Synopsis: In a land where magic is outlawed, eight criminals led by seventeen-year-old Larkin, are sent on a mission to kill an ancient evil that plagues their kingdom. Descending into an underground realm filled with unspeakable horrors, Larkin and her party must use their forbidden magic to survive what lies in wait, teeth sharp and jaws deadly.
As she fights for her life, Larkin finds a light in Amias, a fellow outlaw with a notorious past. Soon Larkin and Amias realize their fates are entwined. The eight of them were chosen for a reason.
But as the dangers multiply and her band of felons are picked off one by one, Larkin must confront a terrible truth: they were never meant to return.
I need to start by saying Eight Will Fall will not be to everyone’s taste. To say that it’s dark is putting it mildly. I consider myself pretty hardened against blood and gore, but some of the scenes here had me cringing. Without giving way too many spoilers, let me just say that several instances of flaying are involved. Blech! Just thinking about it gives me the heebie jeebies! That said, the goriness isn’t gratuitous and it’s all part of the story. Which leads me to the phenomenal world building which is one of the most creative and original I’ve come across in recent memory. While the idea of “magic users” being ostracized by their society isn’t new, the entire magic system involving empaths isn’t something I’ve seen before. And, as Larkin and her team make their way deeper into the underground realm, I felt this growing sense of claustrophobia and outright dread that went beyond the monsters they encountered. Eek! Just thinking about it as I write this review is sending chills up my spine, and I read this book a week ago!
Larkin and her team are the type of flawed characters that I love. They start off perhaps not making the best decisions, but as the dangers they face increase, so does their friendship and trust among one another. Unfortunately, this makes it even more heartbreaking when some of them die. The romance between Larkin and Amias isn’t a major part of the story, but it was sweet and added to my constant state of anxiety as the author made it clear almost from the beginning that no one was safe.
The story itself grabbed me immediately and never let go. It’s action-packed and the fast pace is aided by a few surprising twists. I did think that although the bittersweet ending wrapped everything up nicely, it felt a little rushed. I read somewhere that this was originally planned as a duology before being scaled back to a standalone, so perhaps that explains why.
Overall, Eight Will Fall is a near perfect hybrid of dark fantasy and horror. Because of the more gory scenes I discussed earlier, I do not recommend this to anyone younger than sixteen. Otherwise, for those who like these two genres and have strong stomachs, I encourage you to try this. I guarantee it will be a memorable read.