Most creatures are predictable. Humanity is not.
Captain Sonja Bluwahlt is the kind of woman that monsters hide from. Slaughtering wyverns, beasts, and horrors is all simply part of a slayer’s job description. It’s not until the Brothers of Eternity show up that she discovers the true monsters walk among us.
The definition of righteousness and villainy bleed into each other as Sonja tries to understand the Brothers of Eternity. An old relic is all they desire, but it’s what—and who—they are willing to sacrifice in order to obtain it that terrifies her. The relic holds a dreadful secret, one that should never be uncovered by mortals.
Surviving becomes secondary to success, for if Sonja and her slayers fail to stop the Brothers of Eternity, a new breed of horror will be unleashed upon the world. A greedy, blood-sucking breed that knows no restraint.
I have kind of mixed feelings about this book and I think it may just be that I’m not the ideal reader for it. I did enjoy it though!
The Holtur Curse is the second book in The Holtur Trilogy, but you don’t have to read the first one at all to pick up and understand this sequel. This book feels a lot like a classic hack and slash sword and sorcery novel, maybe with a tiny bit more sword than sorcery.
At first the characters seemed very single minded–protect Holtur from any monstrous threats. Because, you see, Holtur seems to be a bit of a mess and is always attracting all kinds of nasty creatures that want to attack its people. Wyverns, leeches (wraith like creatures which are later revealed to be like vampires), and other sorts of terrible beasts all seem to attack with some regularity. And, for the most part, they remain pretty single minded. We do get to spend some time getting to know our main character, Sonja though, spend time with her family, fellow slayers, and sometimes lovers which provided a little more depth of character. I suppose for the type of story this is the character development is fine, but generally I enjoy a little bit more focus on the characters and their growth. Not to say there isn’t any growth, because there is, but some of it feels like an abrupt turn-about rather than learning and growing. Still, there are a few times when things felt more nuanced–Sonja having to battle with her own feelings regarding what makes a monster when certain things are revealed later in the book–and I felt like those parts were well-written.
One of the things I loved about this book was the very casual feel to things in the setting and world-building, especially the main character’s sexuality. Sonja sometimes enjoys the company of men, sometimes women, it’s no big deal. And it’s not only our main character either. This felt pretty refreshing, especially for something that feels so classic in the genre. I also appreciated that it didn’t overwhelm the reader with world-building and just let us know the things that were relevant to the story at hand.
The action and pacing was great. I do think one of the major positives is that the battle scenes were engaging and well-written and there were plenty of them to go around. Lots of gore too, so don’t go into this one squeamish. Our characters did have time in between to pause and catch their breaths (or have a pint of ale as it were) which was nice, but sometimes I felt like ‘wait, all hell is breaking loose and you’re going home for a family dinner?!?’. The only thing that through off the pacing a bit for me was a subplot about Sonja’s brother and his new girlfriend. I kept thinking something more would come of it, and perhaps it does in the other books, but couldn’t quite figure out the emphasis on it in this one.
Overall, even though I don’t think this was my type of book, I still had fun with it. If you enjoy epic battles with lots of carnage, tons of monster slaying, stories about folks that fight hard and enjoy a good time, The Holtur Curse may be the book for you. 3.5/5 stars.