Welcome to the final day of the Carrion blog tour! Below you will find my book review for this novel by author Graeme Cumming. I will not be revealing any spoilers in my review.
Many thanks go to Love Books Tours for putting together this tour and for letting me join in alongside other great bloggers. You can find information on the author and where to get a copy of the book at the bottom of this post.
Content Warning: Domestic violence, uxoricide, physical violence, misogyny, objectification, sexual assault and rape (women and children), death, blood and gore (humans and animals)
Choose your words carefully. Words have power.
A sheet of black filled his vision as hundreds of birds dived at the cottage, pointed beaks thrust forward. From this angle, he couldn’t see many of them striking it, but the few he did see held nothing back as they hammered into the shutter. The scale of the attack was beyond anything he’d seen or heard of. And bloodied casualties littered the ground: skulls shattered, wings broken, innards spilling from them. The fact that so many of them continued with the onslaught in spite of this filled him with even more dread.
Salin has always wanted an adventure and, when the opportunity presents itself, he grabs it with both hands, taking his friends along for the ride – whether they want to or not.
With strange lands come strange creatures that stand between them and their goal. And that goal is the same for someone else, a man who believes the prize is worth every sacrifice – especially when the sacrifices are made by others.
The future is about to change. But who for?
Carrion is a trip. As it follows Graeme Cumming’s debut novel Ravens Gathering, this reviewer expected horrific characters, characters to root for, surprise plot twists, and immersive setting descriptions. All of which were delivered with just the right pacing and amount of dialogue.
The characters, setting, and world parameters are rooted in fantasy (sorcery, mythological creatures), and the story also features thriller and horror elements. It’s not exactly “our world” but it is certainly recognizable, which gives those thriller and horror elements even more weight. From the mundane task of cutting wood to descriptions of landscapes, physical descriptions of people and creatures to the nitty gritty details of action sequences, the descriptions are straightforward yet all-consuming.
Using shifting perspectives between chapters, Graeme Cumming keeps the pace at a satisfying level—not too quick as to reduce the importance of certain moments in each chapter, but not slow and dull either—while effectively mounting tension and anticipation, which are crucial for presenting the surprise twists and exposure of certain details. In some fantasy stories, there’s a tendency to throw so many plot points, characters, settings, and big picture ideas, but in Carrion, the small and specific bubble of characters and setting allows the build up, stakes, and consequences to not overwhelm the reader. So as the reader learns along with the protagonist, and gets perspectives from other characters, many of the actions and plot points become more reasonable and clear, which allows for belief in the story and in the hope of the protagonist succeeding in his quest. Even in the slow moments of time there is no monotony; being thrust into the characters’ reality and journey makes those moments when they bare their heart and feelings all the more affecting.
The story mainly features a group of four friends, with one of them leading the way to the story’s purpose. The conversations, arguments, and realizations among them felt real in each moment as well as generally realistic. They acted how a non-fictional person would act in dangerous or confusing situations. Even in the aftermath of the climax, the ripple effects in their friend group were not sugar-coated, which is not a “risk” a lot of authors take with this beloved use of friends within a narrative.
Finally, it has to be said that when Graeme Cumming writes a villain, he really writes a villain. And the villainous character in Carrion is evil to the core. This is the where the story may not work for readers who cannot sit through intensely graphic and evil descriptions (see content warnings above), but feelings of total disgust for this character effectively intensifies the stakes of the story, the successes of the protagonist, and what is possibly to come in the future.
So for a fantastical story that blends horror, hope, sorrow, friendship, realistic consequences, beautiful settings, and intense action, Carrion just might be for you.
Graeme Cumming lives in Robin Hood country, and has spent most of his life immersed in fiction – books, TV, movies – turning to writing his own during his early teens.
With his interests in story-telling sparked by an excessive amount of time sitting in front of a black and white television, his tastes are varied. Influences ranged from the Irwin Allen shows (Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, Lost in Space, etc.) to ITC series (The Saint, The Champions, Randall and Hopkirk (deceased) and so many more), so the common theme was action and adventure, but crossed into territories including horror, fantasy and science fiction as well as crime and espionage.
This diverse interest in fiction continued with his reading and his discovery of the magical world of cinema. As a result, his stories don’t always fall into a specific genre, but will always maintain the style of a thriller.
When not writing, Graeme is an enthusiastic sailor (and, by default, swimmer), and enjoys off-road cycling and walking. He is currently Education Director at Sheffield Speakers Club. Oh yes, and he reads (a lot) and loves the cinema.