I’m sad to see the end of this fabulous trilogy, but Voidbreaker offers a thrilling and satisfying conclusion that has cemented The Keepers series as a new favourite for me!
Book: Voidbreaker by David Dalglish
Read before: No
Ownership: Review copy sent free of charge by Orbit Books. All opinions my own.
Content warnings: Violence, death and murder, in many creative ways; torture and murder of animals (cats and birds mostly); gore/body horror; mentions of slavery and sex slavery (major character was previously a sex slave, though not during course of book); recovery from sexual abuse; corruption in the church and interrogation of religion.
As always, it’s next to impossible to review later books in a series without giving away a few spoilers for the previous books – at the very least you need to be able to mention who’s still alive! So, while I’ll keep things as clean as I can, if you’re not caught up on this series, I’d click away now – here’s my review of Soulkeeper to tempt you to start the trilogy. And here’s my review of Ravencaller if you want to catch up on what I thought of the second book!
The story follows on immediately from the end of Ravencaller, and things are bad in the city of Londheim. Despite their desperate attempts to fight back, the human inhabitants have been forced to give up some of the city to the magical races who’ve returned to the world, and tensions are dangerously high. Devin’s late wife Brittany is back from the dead, which is causing complications with his new girlfriend. And Devin and his sister Adria have somehow ended up on different sides of the coming war… Basically, everything that’s been building throughout the series so far is coming to a head, and everyone’s futures are at stake! I’m going to avoid talking about the plot for the most part in this review, but I’ll just say this: things get explosively magical, and Devin and his friends will end up disrupting everything anyone knew about magic, religion, and humanity. It’s the most intense book yet, and it wraps the story up in a way that’s both unexpected and deeply satisfying.
This is a dark world, with a lot of terrible people in it and bad things happening, but what I love about these books is that they have a core of goodness and hope. Devin and his crew are fundamentally trying to do their best, and that gives the books a weirdly cosy glow that you wouldn’t necessarily think would be possible given the amount of grimness! I’ll try not to repeat my previous reviews too much, but I think it’s worth saying again that the ensemble cast and the way they interact reminds me hugely of a great tabletop RPG. Everyone has their own goals as well as what the main story needs from them, and I’m so impressed at how well they’re all juggled – even though this book particularly (and the series as a whole) is packed with action scenes, I still think this is at its heart character-focused fantasy, which for me is what makes it so strong. I’ve grown to really care about what happens to these characters, and as I’ve mentioned in my review of previous series, I think it really is down to how personal the stakes feel for everyone. I love that even though Voidbreaker doesn’t shy away from showing how truly depraved the world can be, there are also sweet and genuine moments for almost everyone – it’s a real balance, but it’s pulled off just right.
Speaking of characters, it’s got to be said: I love Adria. Her arc in this series is phenomenal, and I know I spent most of my review of Ravencaller raving about her, but it bears repeating. Her slide from frustrated priest trying to help people to terrifying cosmic power is so well-handled; she’s forced into choosing between two evils so often that it drags her along a path she’d never consciously choose, and I found myself right there agreeing with her most of the time, which is a fascinating position to be put in. She’s a real poster child for capable-but-perfectionist women, the kind who would really like a break from having to fix everything all the time but are pretty sure the world would fall apart if they let anyone else handle it – I mean, is it any wonder I find her so compelling?! Ugh, I’m running into the same problem I had with Ravencaller where I don’t want to get too specific and spoil things, but also I want to ramble on for hours about how fantastic her characterisation is. I genuinely think Adria will go down as one of my favourite complex women of fantasy ever! I also shocked myself with how much I ended up rooting for Janus, who was the main villain of book one and at that point seemed totally irredeemable. I won’t give anything away about how his story goes, but it definitely wasn’t what I was expecting (and am I wrong for slightly shipping him with Adria??). I love how masterfully Dalglish plays with our expectations of what exactly constitutes a ‘monster’ or a ‘hero’.
This is a wonderfully satisfying conclusion to an enthralling trilogy, and I’m so glad I took a chance on this series – it honestly didn’t seem like it was going to be quite my thing to start with, but it’s ended up becoming a real favourite. I’ll be recommending it to anyone looking for a new and unusual fantasy series – I think this would be a great bet for fans of the Dragon Age games or Gareth Hanrahan’s The Gutter Prayer, or anyone who likes tales of good people making hard choices in the face of creepy gods and monsters. Voidbreaker pulls the whole series together and absolutely sticks the landing. And personally, I’m going to be adding all of David Dalglish’s earlier books to my TBR – luckily, there’s plenty! Five out of five cats!