The Nine is a classic tale of revenge… when Hadrack is eight-years-old, he lives with his father and sister on a farm breaking their backs for the Lord of Corwick. Their life is a hard one, but it is simple and grounded in their belief that the Father and Mother have their best interests in mind. Yet, Hadrack’s world implodes when a new regime takes over and a new lord is installed along with that lord’s brother as the new reeve. Nine soldiers are sent to inform the villagers that taxes will be quadrupled… the reeve’s arrival is said to have been stalled and Hadrack gets a bad feeling. His sister Jeanna is back at the farm and Hadrack goes running. He finds the reeve in the midst of sexually assaulting his sister; he attacks and kills him.
Hadrack’s actions start a chain reaction of death and destruction for the village of Corwick. He watches it all hidden behind a group of trees nearby. And then he runs and runs, but vows to hunt down those Nine.
Cloutier’s writing turns the pages quickly. The chase and Hadrack’s eventual training are neatly described, each plot point steps up the tension towards the his play at the satisfaction of vengeance. He meets enemies and allies along the way. Kidnapped into slavery, he meets two friends in the midst of the chaos of the mine he is made to work in for years and years. These glimmers of hope keep his spark alive…
My criticism of the novella lies in the gratuitous sexual violence. I am in no way a prude and have read my fair share in the grimdark genre, but some of this went a little too far for my tastes. I was also a little let down by the quick and fruitless ending.
Good descriptive writing and a tight plot could not take away from the scenes that I thought could have been left out.
2.5-3- out of 5 stars
Thank you to the author for a copy for review.