Recommended Reads: Beyond the Realm of Night by Jane Dougherty

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Beyond the Realm of Night is the third and final part of the Green Woman trilogy. You can read my views on The Dark Citadel (Book 1) here and the Subtle Fiend (Book 2) here. Needless to say, I enjoyed all three.

The Blurb

At the end was darkness. Now it is time to go back to the beginning and rekindle the light.

Deborah, the daughter of the Green Woman, reaches her journey’s end only to find it has barely started. Escaping Providence was the easy part. Now, as her mother’s strength fails, the burden of the Memory passes to Deborah. The Garden is waking, the Iron Horde is massing, the Queen’s host is gathering. The Fianna have sailed the western ocean and Providence is alight. But evil has put down strong roots in the hearts of the citizens of Providence and Deborah fears she has not the power to tear it out.

If she cannot summon up the green earth magic of the tree, Abaddon and his Iron Horde will trample the new shoots of the Garden. For Abaddon has the power of death with him. The weapons to defeat him are life and love, but Deborah longs to join the shadowlands, and her love is dead.

This is the final volume of The Green Woman series, in which the broken pattern will be mended and the balance of good and evil restored. Or not.

The Review

With Beyond the Realm of Night, Jane Dougherty has created a fitting end to an epic trilogy. Picking up directly from where The Subtle Fiend left off, we follow Deborah as she comes to terms with her role to confront Abaddon and his evil forces and protect the garden, the tree of life, and the future of their world.

But as the two great forces get set for their final confrontation, it is the human stories that take centre stage. Over the course of the previous two books we have been introduced to a host of characters: citizens of providence, members of the Danann, the Fianna; along with Abaddon’s evil minions; and it’s now that all their interactions, their hopes and dreams, get played out.

This breadth of scope and complexity is the book’s, and the trilogy’s, great strength, but it’s also a weakness. With so many plot strands being pulled together, as often happens in these situations I found myself caring less as to what was happening in some of the sub-plots, especially involving the Fianna, which while interesting I felt they didn’t necessarily move the story forward.

That said, this is a minor quibble on what is an otherwise enthralling trilogy. As the book heads towards its denouement, Dougherty expertly draws all these threads together into a satisfying conclusion, without giving in to the temptation of they all live happily ever after. This is especially true for Deborah’s story. While it would have been easy to have transformed Deborah into a one-dimensional beacon of good, Dougherty kept her characterisation as a complex, feisty and sometimes difficult person all the way to the end, and for that she should be applauded. While during the final stages of the book, heroes and villains emerge, the majority of players are neither or both, which is how it should be.

Overall, I would recommend this trilogy to anybody with a love of epic fantasy with substance.

To buy Beyond the Realm of Night from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Beyond the Realm of Nigh from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Subtle Fiend by Jane Dougherty

The Subtle Fiend

The Subtle Fiend is the second book in Jane Dougherty’s impressive Green Woman trilogy. You can read my review of The first book, The Dark Citadel, here. For full disclosure, since writing that first review Jane has reviewed my book Second Chance, which she really enjoyed. This hasn’t affected my views of her writing in any way but I like to be open about these things.

The Blurb

When reality becomes a nightmare, only dreams can save the world.
Deborah, daughter of the fabled Green Woman, has disappeared, and Hera, another grey-robed schoolgirl, has become the hostage in her place. Hera fears she will be left to languish, unnoticed and forgotten, in her prison cell. But the honesty in her eyes touches a young Black Boy, her prison guard—Amon.
Amon is destined for a military career, but convinced of the innocence of his prisoner, he begins to question the laws and values of his city. In befriending Hera, he risks his life by standing between her and the most powerful man in Providence—the Protector.
The Protector’s new hostage will serve her purpose. After all, one veiled girl looks much like another. But if Deborah has joined her mother and her host of myths and stories, the sham will be revealed. To hang onto power the Protector determines to destroy the Green Woman’s allies within Providence by lighting the sacrificial fires of Moloch. When the flames have burned out none will be left, not even the child at its mother’s breast.
As the flames of evil leap and dance in Providence, Hera and Amon resolve to defy the Protector, with courage as their only weapon.  

The Review

The Subtle Fiend is the second book in Jane Dougherty’s impressive Green Woman trilogy, concentrating predominantly on the politics of Providence, and what a nest of snakes that city is. With the forces of Abaddon and the Green Woman building outside their protective dome, prominent members of society manoeuvre themselves into position to take advantage of whoever, or whatever, wins out. Sides are chosen in the ensuing power play but it is the normal people, and the Dananns in particular, who bear the brunt of the consequences.

I really enjoyed this book, probably more than the first, because it concentrated predominantly on Providence. The city-state is a fantastic creation, described by Dougherty so well that I feel I know the streets intimately. As the book progresses Dougherty introduces us to a large cast of characters until halfway through the book I started to worry I’d lose track of exactly who was doing what, where, but while the novel isn’t for a person who likes a simple narrative, Dougherty manages to bring all the threads together nicely for the denouement.

Well, when I say nicely, I mean ruthlessly. This is a dark book and Dougherty doesn’t flinch at showing humanity at its worst. Given the timing of reading this book during the 70th anniversary commemorations of the liberation of Auschwitz, it wasn’t difficult to see parallels in what was happening in Providence. Some may feel the subject matter a little dark for what is essentially a YA fantasy, but I applaud Dougherty for not only confronting the issue, but handling it in a sensitive way without losing any of the horror.

The only criticism I have is that the Deborah’s story, which is integral to book 1, while not being ignored, had lost some of the tension from earlier. This is just a minor point however, and I look forward to seeing how Dougherty takes that storyline, along with what happened here, through to conclusion. Highly recommended.

To buy The Subtle Fiend from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Subtle Fiend from Amazon.com click here

Recommended reads are either independently published books – or those that are published via a small press – that I have bought and enjoyed. They are part of a commitment to ‘pay it forward’ to other independent authors by buying their work and promoting those that I have enjoyed, both here and on Amazon and Goodreads. I don’t accept submissions but instead focus on people who have helped or inspired me through their blogging or who actively support other writers, but I only recommend those books I have personally enjoyed. If you are an independent author I would encourage you to do the same and help pay it forward to the community. For more information please see my blog post here.

Recommended Reads: The Dark Citadel by Jane Dougherty

The Dark Citadel

The Blurb

Deborah has a secret
But she doesn’t know what it is.
The Protector does
And so does Abaddon.
Both of them want her destroyed.

A wild boy and a pack of wolfdog pups are all that stand between Deborah and destruction.
But Jonah and Deborah have forged a weapon that even the demon fears.
Love.

Between them, the pariah girl and the dog boy will change the world. Or die in the attempt.

 

If there is one genre I’ve so far avoided reading by self-published authors it’s fantasy. Not because I dislike fantasy, quite the opposite. I really love fantasy, and that was my problem. I was worried any books I chose would be derivative and not bring anything new to the genre. I should have known better.

In the Dark Citadel, Jane Dougherty has created a vividly layered, cruel fantasy world where the city of Providence acts as the last refuge of humanity against the demonic armies of evil. Yet even Providence has succumbed to the all pervasive corruption, where the heavily structured society where love and affection are suppressed by the rigid laws and a twisted, oppressive religion.

Out of this gloom we follow Deborah, a young orphan shunned by others because of her parents, who rebels against the fate mapped out for her. As she gets further into trouble, Deborah starts to learn more about her history, and the true history of her people. She decides to escape Providence and find her mother, a direct descendent of Eve, to change the world for the better.

I loved this book. Dougherty’s world may be bleak, but she has balanced the hope and despair with great skill to ensure the threat of disaster is always there but never overwhelming. Her multi-layered society is terrifyingly believable, especially the way the authorities use their twisted doctrine to ensure the population oppress themselves, and in Deborah she has created a wonderfully spiky, independent protagonist you cannot help but want to succeed – a great example of a strong, female lead.

If you enjoy you are looking to escape into a well-written, unique dark fantasy, you would be hard pushed to find a better book than this. I cannot wait to read the next two books in the series. Highly Recommended.

To buy The Dark Citadel from Amazon.com click here

To buy The Dark Citadel from Amazon.co.uk click here