Been looking forward to getting back to the Dead Sagas because the first book set things up so enticingly, and man, I was not disappointed. I won’t say Conley turns it up to eleven, but…
I think because this series feels so huge, book one took a while to set things up, albeit with that air of menace. But if Ritual of Bone was the suspense laden, drum and bass led introduction, Ritual of Flesh brings in Iommi on lead guitar and Osbourne on vocals and releases all hell on the poor folk of Arnar.
The setting and worldbuilding makes these books, for me, unique and stand out above the crowd. Arnar feels like an authentic Anglo-Saxon/Norse land, a fully realised society and landscape that makes sense and feels real. Thus, when the dead arrive, you feel like it’s all happening to real people, not some cheap scares that you don’t really care about.
We spend more time with the main characters, get to know them more and their paths begin to cross with one another. Some poor bastards simply don’t get a break, but this is fantasy horror, so these characters are gonna get pushed to breaking point. There are some great twists, shocks and reveals as well, and by the end you are excited to find out what is going to happen next.
Plot wise, well. Arnar’s gonna have a hard time of it with threats from all angles. You kind of know what’s coming. But I admire the fact that Conley hasn’t rushed his storytelling, so that when it arrives, it’s much more effective.
There’s at least one more book coming. Feels like there could be quite a few more. Looking forward to the next!