Also, originally posted on Fantasy Book Review.
I received a review copy of Paternus in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Dyrk Ashton and Paternus Books Media for the opportunity. Like many, I found out about Ashton and Paternus by following 2016’s Self Published Fantasy Blog Off where this book was awarded third place by the panel of recognised and influential bloggers.
This story is completely unique. Written in third-person present tense, Paternus often reads more like a film script than a novel. It could be described as brutal urban fantasy, combined with a small amount of YA elements and mixed with all the demons, Gods, and mythological creatures you were too lazy to research at school. It starts off pretty slow, almost like Ashton is trying to find his voice. This section, for the first 120 or so pages is what some readers have difficulty with. It will switch between Fi and Zeke’s ‘will they, won’t they’ relationship that’s intertwined with a huge war dog called Mol and an overtly British and loving uncle – and also the Order of the Bull presenting what is simmering behind the gaze of the world with reference to the Gods of myths and legends who may very well have to re-wage a war that’s been on and off for centuries. These behemothic beings are half human, half animal, revered Gods and unbelievably powerful. They have human qualities, personalities, and relationships but I wouldn’t like to cross them. I’d say half of the first 120 pages reads like it could be a book dedicated to teenagers, but after reading further on I can analyse this was a misconception. This narrative is highly adult in nature so if readers aren’t put off by Fi’s initial point of view chapters then things will click and then lead us to a hugely dark and potentially dangerous world-defining experience. I’d have rated this section 6/10.
Urban fantasy to me is often lame and cliche. Topless werewolves, sexy vampires, needless love stories that interrupt the drama. Paternus is gritty. Vampires and werewolves are present but you wouldn’t want to spend Valentine’s Day with them. This is urban fantasy done right. It’s dark, adult, gruesome, and that being said, there is always a slight underglow present that hopefully, the team on the side of right will succeed. I believe this is the first of a trilogy so don’t expect complete closure. Paternus does, however, conclude with an enticing and exciting finale. It’s really tough to summarise but if I had to it would be something along the lines of: A mixture of the Iliad (for the myths), Dante’s Inferno (for the beasts), The Dark Tower (for the alternative world switching), and The Hunger Games (for young love in crazy circumstances). That description doesn’t do the depth of this tale justice but I’m happy with it. Paternus is a dark urban fantasy gem and if you can get past the first 20% then you are in for a treat. Highly recommended – it didn’t achieve 5-stars due to the slow start- that’s all.