I have a great fondness for books—especially spec fic books—that deal with the minutiae behind politics and revolutions. (It’s possible that this is so because I wrote a sci-fi/dystopian piece about how language invoked a revolution, but I digress.) Keith Crawford’s Vile is one of the best books I’ve seen in a while that deals not only with a potentially politically (and otherwise) explosive situation, but the minutiae behind it. Oh, and it was spectacularly well written, too.
1. Thoughts on the plot
There is a lot going on in this book. Magistrate Elianor Paine goes to Shadowgate to bring back a Vile (the father or the children) to vote in the next election, ostensibly for one goal and quietly for another. However, there are things going on in Shadowgate that involve the long-gone threat of the Kindred, secrets between family members, and rivalries that divide the town. Every piece initially seemed like a separate thing, something that didn’t quite fit with the others but was still important. And then I read on.
The sheer capability of weaving each piece together so that one leads seamlessly to another, and when put together create a whole image is hugely impressive. I enjoyed going through the plot and figuring things out immensely. I would say that this was absolutely well thought out and well crafted. Basically, it was great.
2. Thoughts on the main character
For all her capabilities, Elianor Paine doesn’t initially seem like a likeable character. (Okay, yes, this is grimdark and yes, that means morally grey characters, but still.) She has her own motives and is a bit arrogant. However, the more I read about her and the other characters, the more I liked them. Oh, yes, they were absolutely morally grey and perfect for grimdark. (coughPersephonecough) But their motivations were so perfectly woven into the plot, and their backstories superbly well done. Basically, I enjoyed all of the characters, but especially Elianor. She was a perfect main character. Perhaps manipulated, but not dumb. And certainly very capable.
3. Favourite part
The revelations of all the characters as they finally figure out what is going on in their lives. This was done so as to be a surprise, and yet expected. I felt what the characters felt and I absolutely thrilled in it.
Actually, I don’t really have one. I think the language was well crafted, the characters entertaining and, if not likeable then at least intriguing, and the plot superb. I really want to know more.
This book is beautifully written. It fits perfectly into the questionable characteristics that make grimdark what it is. The minutae are described well and pieced together to form a whole that is the perfect start to a series. Definitely on my best books for 2020 list.