Symphony of Ruin

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 18 Sep 2017

Member Reviews

An utterly gripping and thoroughly unique adventure that sets a new standard and will for a long time to come.
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Ghosts, Fae, magic, Alchemy and a monster from out of the catacombs bringing death to the city. It's all here! The story reads like a very well written Fantasy novel and got my interest right away. 

Remy is an Alchemist's apprentice and with the Alchemist away, he is left to discover what is coming out of the catacombs to kill people. He encounters ghosts and other creatures in the world of darkness, effectively an underworld journey.

Despite being treated like a lowly ratboy by the local hoity-toity, he gets on with the job and seeks to discover why one of their class got buried with commoners. Remy is a likeable character who lets the class insults roll off and applies his own wits and knowledge to untangling some confusing clues to what's really going on.

The story is fast moving and leads into a dark journey beneath the city that brings out some of our most primal fears. At times it reminded me of the surreal worlds of Roger Zelazny or The Deathgate Cycle by Weis and Hickman, though not in as much intricate detail. It was an interesting read and I think a new author to watch.
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(Taken from my blog)

Within a matter of days, I devoured the story of Remy and this strange dark world he inhabits. Rather than providing a typical Aladdin-esque story-line of 'street-rat turns hero', Christina Lay has clearly went to great lengths ensuring that Symphony of Ruin's main character is both an accidental, and extremely flawed one. From the get-go, Remy sips liquor with his friends, stolen from a man who'd taken him in, and of whom he has no real appreciation; he is willing to take advantage of the people around him, blatantly lie in pursuit of reward, and is rather uncaring upon sight of the people, who'd once been his friends, lying dead from a mysterious form of attack. Because of this, Remy is constantly thrown into situations where he has to act the hero in order to ensure that he can live another day - either because of frivolous spending, leaving him unable to support himself while his master is gone, or due the fact that people are threatening him, or the money he could make. Remy is so flawed and cocksure that it's almost comedic, and he stands out as an interesting example of an accidental hero who is doing the right thing for all the wrong reasons.
I rarely have comments on the individual elements of a novel (usually opting to provide my thoughts on the whole) but The City, a brooding little haunt where plagues, monster attacks, ghosts, vampire creatures, and supernatural plots seem far too common to it's residents, stands out as a character all on it's own. Life is just terrible for everyone here, even the higher ranking officials, and it's even at the point where Alchemists (basically wizards in this universe) have found a way to make a living from this fact. However, just like the main character, the dark and twisted elements of this place are portrayed in an almost comedic manner. Everyone is just so okay with others dying; the only consistent occurrence in The City being death. Why do they stay here? No person knows - even the nobility of this place are being killed off and requiring some form of exorcism due the ways they’ve been killed, sit atop magic portals to cult layers, and are victim of magical abuses. And, who will do something about this state? Not a person, unless there is a reward. Way to reflect the nature of humanity, am I right?
My only gripe, besides a singular typo, is that Chapters whip from one location to another, constructed like episodes or scenes of a television show. This isn’t all bad, I still very much loved Symphony of Ruin, but it had me confused at times - having to get a read on where Remy was, who he was talking to, what was going on. Honestly, I just feel that this was a stylistic choice I don’t see often and had to get used to. Not truly a detriment to the novel.
For a great, very strange, dark comedy that provides death and mystery at every turn - I suggest Symphony of Ruin. It is well written, well paced, and Christina Lay has given me one of the most interesting and fun characters I have ever had the chance of experiencing. It is entirely straight-forward and to-the-point, with no unnecessary filler, but it makes for a stress-free read. Not every fantasy novel needs to be as big as a concrete block to please or provide a compelling or entertaining narrative. Let Symphony of Ruin be a prime example of this.
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