Silent Hall by N. S. Dolkart. Book Review
Five teenagers leave their island for very different reasons. Soon after, they discover that the world they left behind has disappeared forever, because everyone they knew has died from a mysterious plague. The wanderers manage to find sanctuary in the wizard Psander’s fortress, but is not long before their patron sets them off to complete tasks that will change them all, more than they could have ever imagined.
This is a very special debut novel because the quality of writing takes this tale way beyond a simple fantasy adventure. The style of writing is interesting because the story is told from the perspective of all of the five main protagonists, and therefore makes for some interesting perceptions of the world of Silent Hall and the people in it. This type of narrative also has the feel of a narration by someone sitting with you as you both huddle by a roaring fire. This creates the type of distance between you, as the reader, and the characters in a way that gives you the space to get a grandstand view of all their enthralling adventures, while feeling as if you’re in the thick of the action.
The interactions of the teenagers are wonderfully subtle as they come together in individual conversations to share confidences with each other, or as a group to take part in decision-making which affects the future of all of them.
The five characters each have different qualities. The extent of these is gradually revealed and forms part of the rich texture of the story, rather than dominating it. Each of them has strengths, but also weaknesses which shift and change as the story moves on, and they are able to see their way through by working as a tight knit group.
As teenagers, they have the same kind of issues that developing adults must face, and yet must deal with crises that would test even the most experienced hero. But they begin to build the type of strong bonding that is usually only found in a family, which is essentially what they become.
It is not only the quality of the writing that makes this novel exceptional. Silent Hall is a book which fits comfortably into the adult fantasy genre, but will also appeal as powerfully to a young adult market.
At over five hundred pages this is a book which rewards with good old fashioned story telling that relates an epic story on a very intimate scale.
Silent Hall was courtesy of Angry Robot via NetGalley
If you want to dig deeper into the techniques of fantasy writing, then the next post is an in-depth interview with N. S. Dolkart on how he created the imaginative world of Silent Hall.