Vile by Keith Crawford
Elianor Paine is a Magistrate of the Peace in the Kingdom of Trist and a republican secret agent. She has 6 days to subvert her investigation, supplant war-hero Lord Vile, then coerce his adult children to start a revolution, before her masters discover the truth and have her killed. Just how far is she willing to go? And can she change the world without changing herself?
“Vile is a very strong book whose distinctive style and flow makes it extremely readable. The action scenes are well-paced and the descriptions very vivid and memorable, from the backdrops to the characters. It’s a great example of the genre.” Rebecca Barker, Speculative Fiction and Fantasy Specialist for The Literary Consultancy
“With strong characters in a deep and complex setting, Vile is a story of a world standing on a precipice – and the people about to make it fall” Toby Frost, Author of the Space Captain Smith and Dark Renaissance Series.
Book Review by J.A. Warnock
Imagine the scene. A dark Edinburgh night, the castle looms large in the distance, lit from below in eerie red. The rain is bouncing off the pavement and the light of the almost full moon is shrouded by fog. As we part I am handed a Christmas gift beautifully wrapped and partly protected by a huge shopping bag. I turn to leave; your final instructions are almost lost to the weather… “There is a book to review but please ignore the cover”… I made it to the train looking every inch the drowned rat, rescued the sopping wet book from the bottom of the bag and tentatively pulled apart the first few pages. A student of the Durancon Academy in 2218, if they discovered such an ancient and curious artifact, could not have been more intrigued or protective. The cover, as dreadful as it may be, had done a fabulous job of protecting its contents. I found myself in an entirely unidentifyable future ending and my search for the start of Keith Crawford’s ‘Vile’ began.
Crawford’s writing somehow manages to be detailed and abstract at the same time. His readers need to be alert to metaphysical and philosophical nuances in a future and past that are not quite our own while, at the same time, could probably navigate the streets and passages so detailed are Crawford’s descriptions. Dates are important. The novel unfolds in dramatic sequence not chronological order so one must pay attention. There is however enough contextual information given to negate any need for flipping back and forth to keep up. You may doubt your faculties but you can trust the narrative.
‘Vile’ offers a sense of… I hesitate and try to decide whether to say cynicism or truth… I don’t like the connotation of right or wrong implied by either of them. There are fabulous notions of duplicity and superiority which make the novel immensely relatable. I particularly liked Elianor Paine’s assertion that substituting a mysterious word for something unknown is tantamount to witchcraft; she derides the dishonesty of an explanation that does not explain.
In the tradition of the very best fantasy writing, ‘Vile’ reads like history. Who should read it? In my opinion it has real cross genre appeal so if you are in the slightest bit tempted you should give it a go. Four Stars.
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