Genre: Dark Fantasy/Grimdark
Author info: http://michaelrfletcher.com/
I have received a review copy from the author in exchange of an honest review. My opinions are my own.
A lot of reviewers call Beyond Redemption ‘The grimdarkest of grimdark’ and as a grimdark fan, I agree with them. It’s the epitomy of grimdark but far from depressing. It has plenty of twisted humor and dark satire between the lines. The best way I can describe this book is that it’s immensely dark and gritty with slivers of hope, witty philosophy and stunning black humor scattered around. The point of view characters are horribly vile and amoral, perhaps with the exception of the little boy, whose innocence turns out to be tarnished like everything else in the book. Everyone is batshit crazy except for the one sane character.
Even though the characters are all insane and horrible, you still root for them. Don’t ask me how that is possible, this book is a work of genius and makes you care about those awful cretins. You end up feeling sorry for them. There’s only one character I (and I think everyone else) hated, which is the gluttonous, greedy slug Erbrechen the Slaver. Erbrechen one is 1000 times more revolting than all other characters and I’d say I hated him as much as I hated Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter and Joffrey from Asoiaf/The Game of Thrones. None of the fantasy books I recently read featured such a horrible villain. Reading this book made me realize how much I missed reading a well written, awful villain I could hate like no tomorrow.
One of the female characters, Stehlen the kleptic, is all kinds of awesome. She’s hideous and messed up beyond any hope, and she’s a horrible cutthroat bitch with no shred of morals or honor, but she’s still an awesome character and I liked her. The other female character, Gehirn the pyromaniac, is equally hideous and even more messed up. She also behaves like a damn weakling but I rooted for her more than anyone else. Two thumbs up to Mr. Fletcher for this stellar accomplishment.
The most entertaining parts for me were 1)the constant bickering between the three main characters and 2) the bantering and plotting between the doppels of the other main character Konig. Doppels are the aspects of personality becoming real beings of flesh. Kind of like the multiple personality disorder, but they are fragments of the same person’s character and they have the exact likeness. But delusions make reality in this crazy world, so everyone else can see and hear those delusions, too. The doppels are creepy as hell but quite intriguing, full of surprises and great fun to read. I really hope Mr. Fletcher writes some short stories featuring the doppels.
The other thing I found great about Beyond Redemption is the totally unpredictable twists and turns. If plot twists and fresh, original stuff is your thing, you will love this book without question. If you like magic systems you will love it, though it’s a different kind of magic system than you see in most fantasy books featuring significant magic elements. If you hate magic systems you will still love it for the same reason.
The concept of death is also quite original and unusual. I can’t say much for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free, but you will have a lot of fun after the character deaths. That’s all I can say, you have to read and see for yourself.
The morbid adventures of Bedeckt, Stehlen and Wichtig are insanely entertaining and the action never lets up. There’s also deliciously dark philosophy and black humor to be found in this story. Hilarious and macabre dialogues, messed up events and the cleverly woven satire making this book a 2 am in the morning page turner. It ends with a cliffhanger with the promise of a sequel. What can I say, I’m dying to read the second book.
Verdict: Buy it ASAP! If you love grimdark and complex characters, you will be a big fan. If you don’t like grimdark, you might still enjoy this book a great deal cause it’s much more than just grimdark.
PS: Someone opened a rather interesting discussion thread on reddit as I finished writing this review. There’s a bit of controversy about the book and the author chimed in to answer some of the questions. Here is the link.