Riddler's Gift Review
Author: Greg Hamerton
Publisher: Eternity Press
Review by: T.C. Southwell
Review published: Demon Lord Blog Spot
In a world falling
into chaos, a young girl has the potential to stand against the Darkness
threatening to destroy the last bastion of order and light in the world
in which she dwells. Tabitha's innocent discovery of her latent power
causes the wheels of destiny to turn.
The heroine is aided
by a handsome hero, and encounters an enigmatic Riddler who may be friend
or foe. Tabitha takes the role of a well-known and popular fantasy archetype
- that of the underestimated apprentice who is the overlooked source of
salvation, dismissed as inconsequential by all, with possible disastrous
results. Will she discover her power in time, or will she succumb to the
dark forces that endeavour to ensnare her in their evil web?
A thread of romance
starts early on, and adds spice to a dark tale of pursuit and anguish.
While Tabitha's self-doubt and uncertainties hold her back from discovering
her full potential, she does follow her heart without reservation, and
the concept of unshakeable love conquering evil intentions is a notion
of which I am particularly fond.
As is often the case
in the tales of undiscovered power, the heroine flees from her foes while
the brave and righteous meet grisly ends at the hands of dark forces.
Although the torturous ordeals of the evil protagonist, Kirjath Arkell,
may distract from his dark purpose, his debased personality is never in
doubt. He endures some particularly horrendous mishaps as he pursues his
elusive quarry through the pitfalls of fate and failure.
The plot becomes more
gripping in the second half, where storylines converge, potentials are
unearthed, traitors appear and discoveries are made. Hamerton's heavy-duty
prose lends itself to some harrowing descriptive passages of the truly
skin-crawling variety, which are apt to raise the hair on one's nape.
Evil is well portrayed as pitiless and ruthless, without any redeeming
qualities, as it should be.
The storylines take
many twists and turns, but the central theme of the young innocent caught
up in the harsh grip of fate lures us onward into the tangled web of treachery
and tragedy. As one who prefers fast-paced action, I found the story rather
slow to unfold, as a result of sometimes too-long narrative, which detracted
from its overall appeal. This did not spoil my enjoyment of the book,
The story reaches a
satisfactory and climactic conclusion, and most of the mysteries are solved,
though some questions remain, which makes the reading of the next instalment
of this story, The Wizard's Way, a must.
It's a well-drawn depiction
of a many-layered concept, spanning a world-wrecking catastrophe and the
tender entrapment of love that leads to weakness and failure when evil
uses such goodness for its own ends. Darker scenes could be better described
as horror, against which a counterpoint of music and song draws a magical
skein of light and upliftment, producing a balanced sense of good and
evil locked in their endless battle for supremacy. Hats off to Hamerton
for this portrayal of evil at its worst, offset by a tender romance with
all the elements of self-sacrifice and courage that go with it.
The Riddler's Gift
will appeal to more mature fantasy readers who enjoy dark adventure and
mystery with a dash of romance.