THE BOY WHO WEPT BLOOD

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BOOK REVIEW: THE BOY WHO WEPT BLOOD / AUTHOR: DEN PATRICK / PUBLISHER: GOLLANCZ / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW

One of the features of Den Patrick’s previous novel, The Boy with the Porcelain Blade, was that the central character of Lucien wasn’t very likeable. Interesting and engaging, yes, but also sarcastic, vain and self-obsessed. Patrick’s latest work, The Boy Who Wept Blood is set ten years on from Lucien’s story, but this time focusing on the far more sympathetic character of Dino. The previous book left Dino in charge of protecting the newly minted Queen, and the book follows the adventures of a man more suited to swordplay than subterfuge.

Den Patrick continues to impress with his compelling world building and addictive prose. Landfall is a compelling setting, especially The Demense; the vast and labyrinthine castle where much of the action takes place. Patrick’s pseudo-renaissance world grows darker with each book as tendrils of something truly nasty wind their way throughout the entire work. This makes for some compelling reading, and the author’s gentle yet sardonic style makes the novel all the more delicious.

This is a world were peril, either physical or political, lurks at every corner and it’s quite fun to see Dino stumble through various encounters. Though the world is the same, The Boy Who Wept Blood is very different in tone and approach to the previous novel. Mostly this is because the central character is so very different. We still get plenty of sword fights, politics and emotional growth, but those expecting the shock value present in the last book will be disappointed.

The Boy Who Wept Blood is an easier novel in many regards, with some key tender moments. This makes the violent sequences all the more intriguing, and Patrick really does excel at the intricacies of a duel, operating his narrative on many levels throughout these key scenes. This is a strong middle book, but very much suffers from being part of a large story. Both the start and end of the novel feel like they’re bridging the gap between two books, one of which has not been written. All told, it’s a sound sequel, though like Dino himself, perhaps not as strong as the predecessor.

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