Chasing Graves by Ben Galley (Mini Review)

Caltro Basalt has arrived at the port of Araxes. He’s ready to report for the job offer he’s received, a call from someone at the royal palace for his services as a locksmith (or more accurately, a thief). Yet, the ship captain’s tardiness has put the passengers on land a bit after sundown, and the gangs of soul stealers are out in force… Basalt doesn’t make it a couple blocks before being chased down and killed, brought back to the Boss Temsa’s shade factory, and dipped in Nyxwater to bind his life-force forever. A process that creates an entire economy of indentured workers at the heart of Galley’s beautifully-shaped world.

Now Basalt will have to find a way to navigate the world as a half-life, a slave to his master and the copper whip. He can sit and stew or maybe find a means to combat his situation.

With points of view from all rungs of the social ladder, Galley builds his world with great skill. Details of the soul economy, the dress and customs of the City of Countless Souls, and the language and beasts of every culture finding its way to this metropolis make for a complexly-drawn experience. Told through the eyes of the newly-minted shade Basalt, the shademaster Temsa, and many others, the plot includes powerful manipulations of both individual characters and all the peoples of Araxes.

Galley has created a first book with a rising plot arc, one that has in no way reached its climax, but has placed all the pieces ready for a rollicking second book. A couple shocking reveals in the final pages of Chasing Graves create much anticipation for Grim Solace, Chasing Graves #2.

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