“Dagger and Scythe” By Emilie Knight

Well, this has to be the most unlikely love story in the history of the novel. The setup of the plot is that a certain god has a way to keep his humans in line; he has a coterie of undead assassins that go around committing random atrocities, thus frightening the faithful into submission.

Dagger and Scythe are two of the more fractious of these nightmares, and to force them into line the god decides to marry them to each other. In the iconoclastic style of this book, the marriage comes first and the love story happens after.

There is a great deal of creative description in this story, of settings, clothing, action, and gore. Although to be fair, the violence is hardly glorified, as the main characters begin to lose the thrill of their deeds.

To give an idea of the general tone, as a final good deed in the happily-ever-after, the two return a couple they had kidnapped, maimed, and tortured (in gory detail) to their home. With a sack of gold to make it all better. Gee, thanks.

The other fascinating thing about this novel is the style of the two main characters. In a stylized world of black-on-grey stereotypes, they are fully rounded, realistic characters, blazing out with colourful personalities. Like a couple of rather immature twenty-somethings, they act like teenagers and don’t understand why it isn’t working. It makes great romance.

This book could have been a total paean to pointless violence, except for the theme, which indicates that violence is wrong. Or maybe gratuitous violence is wrong. Or maybe only a little violence is okay, as long as you don’t enjoy it too much. Unfortunately, the weight of the scales tilts the characters far into the darker side of humanity.

Recommended for adults who understand the point of the story. To be kept away from younger minds who might enjoy the violence too much.

4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)


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