Author Jake Elliot is proving to be incredibly talented. His first book, The Wrong Way Down introduced readers to Popalia, a priestess on a mission to recover her order’s prized relic. Her bodyguard, Wynkkur accompanies her on the quest, leading them across the lands to the capital city. There they catch up with the thief who stole the artifact so many days before; and the story ends leaving readers on a cliffhanger. Crossing Mother’s Grave picks up immediately after the first book ends, continuing the story of Popalia, Wynkkur, and their new partners Seth and Raenyl.
Pursuing the trading caravan with whom the thief escaped their grasp, the adventurers are attacked by a group of orcs. With officers bent on their arrest behind them, and all out attack in front, they choose to stop and fight. Instead of an isolated battle, the fight is a catalyst, leading them deep into the heart of the earth where many more join their ranks, and they struggle to regain their freedom.
The Wrong Way Down is a good book, putting forth an entertaining story. It is with Crossing Mother’s Grave though that Elliot shows his true gift for storytelling. One of the best aspects of stories is the ability for the reader to get inside the characters and feel like they are a part of the action. Adding to the qualities that made The Wrong Way Down great is the outstanding characterization the author achieves. In the first book, all the players were introduced. In this second installment their full character is revealed. Foul-mouthed highwaymen, pious and indignant priestesses, and culturally oblivious elves comprise a truly unique crew. The author has a way of sticking relatively close to genre-defined characteristics, then playing around inside them so none of the characters come across as stuffy or like have been read a thousand times before.
From start to finish, Crossing Mother’s Grave never slows down. The laborious descriptions and pointless conversations that plague so much writing on the market right now is no where to be found. Instead, what is left is a tight, well thought out story that is a pleasure to read. For those thinking they need to read Elliot’s first book before this one, don’t worry about it, Crossing Mother’s Grave stands just as strong on its own; though it wouldn’t hurt to discover all the great writing this author has to offer.
Reviewed by Andrew Keyser
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