I received an advanced reader copy of The Deathless in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Peter Newman and Harper Voyager for the opportunity.
Newman’s first entry into a new fantasy series presents a world with floating castles which are connected by roads of crystal alongside which human settlements are erected. These Godsroads are safe passages between the floating fortresses of the great houses. Covering most of the created environment is The Wilds – a macabre and terrifying forested area full of unspeakable horrors, extreme darkness, shifting trees, and creatures such as the infamous Scurrying Corpseman and Whispercages. Certain segments of the narrative that were set in The Wilds were truly intense and felt like a nightmare right out of a Brother’s Grimm fairy tale.
The elite of this world are known as The Deathless and upon dying they are reborn using a family member as a vessel, essentially being reborn in a younger body to rule again. The Deathless have access to crystal armour which incorporates wings and Paralympian runners-like leg blades which grants them the power of flight and presents extra strength, endurance, and stamina. These warriors frequently go on hunts into The Wilds to protect the settlements alongside the Godsroads from the grotesque horrors of the forests and they are the celebrities of this world. We join the action as a rebirthing ceremony is taking place. It turns out that all is not well in House Sapphire and perhaps certain people do not want noble Lord Rochant to be brought back into existence. The Deathless starts off in fantastic fashion featuring assassins, betrayals, complex characters, and a meticulously crafted plot.
There are four point of view perspectives in The Deathless. Two characters are Deathless (Vasin and Pari) and the third is a highborn mother (Chandni) whose child could be used as a vessel for another lifecycle in the future so is extremely important and ultimately sacred. I will not mention the fourth point of view perspective as that could be approaching spoiler territory but it was probably my favourite, was featured much less than the others and was a really unique way of storytelling. The characters are outstanding in this novel. To begin with, I occasionally got Chandni and Pari’s scenes confused but that’s probably my incompetence and after a quarter of the book I had no such quarrels as there individual traits and personalities shone. The side cast are pretty brilliant too, one of my favourites being a loyal giant dog-like beast with five legs.
This is my first time reading one of Newman’s books but it definitely will not be the last. I will be following this series and reading each entry as soon as I possibly can. The Deathless is dark fantasy, adult in nature yet unlike a lot of recent books in this grimdark era, I found all the point of view characters likable and there is an underlining possibility of hope. It does feature moments of horror, terror, and unpredictability. I believe I am quite attuned to predicting the directions a narrative will take but I was unsuccessful with that venture here which makes the reading experience for me much fuller and more enjoyable. This story really pulled at my emotions and my heartstrings. Once I was a quarter of the way through and used to the writing style, which is excellent – Newman has a voice that is extremely addictive to read, I found this novel really difficult to put down. Newman has composed a stunning tale with The Deathless. Unpredictable drama tinged with horror and featuring the sort of grotesque creatures you wouldn’t want to meet late at night. Not forgetting The Deathless who are almost like superheroes with their armour, power, influence, and immortality. There was so much to enjoy here and it’s a book I’ll be thinking about for a long time. This is essentially a tale of two babies and I can’t begin to predict what will happen next – but I can’t wait.