Author: Brendan Duffy
Release: February 6th 2018
Warnings: Rape, Animal death
I received a copy of The Storm King from NetGalley in exchange for a fair and honest review.
The Storm King is Brendan Duffy’s second novel, and while I haven’t read his first yet (House of Echoes) I feel like I can safely say I like the way he thinks. This novel explores a lot of different concepts, while also delivering a thriller that’ll keep you on your toes. Things start off with you being pretty unaware of the main character’s (Nate) past, but over time the details are slowly revealed, finally giving us the full picture.
Warnings first: Both of the warnings for this novel happen towards the back of the book. A main character is revealed to have been raped and murdered, and then later we see it happen through the killer’s eyes. It’s pretty quick, but it is brutal and will likely be upsetting to anybody that would prefer not to read something like this. Another character’s dog is murdered; you’ll get a little bit of a warning before it happens, but it isn’t terribly detailed and it doesn’t come up again (which frustrated me a little bit, to be honest).
What is a story? Is it fact? Is it truth? A blend of the two? Or is it something else entirely? These are questions raised by The Storm King. Based in a town where stories are the stuff of legends, it’s almost understandable how every major event ends up taking up a life of its own. The town is full of them, and even our main character can’t avoid getting pulled into them.
I love how the concept of a story is explored in this novel; how it can warp and change with each telling; how it has the power to ruin lives. So many different angles are studied and pointed out to us, but they’re done in subtle ways. In a way, that was the real masterpiece of this novel. The thriller element was interesting to be sure, but it was this examination that really hooked me.
Nate, the golden boy, has many secrets. Considering the worst day of his life became one of the town’s stories, I can’t really say I blame him for those secrets. The thing is though, when one keeps a secret so do the others. All of Nate’s childhood friends have secrets, and they’re haunting them still. That is how this story begins.
While this novel did drag at times, on the whole I really enjoyed it. It took me about three chapters to really become invested in what was happening, but once I did I was hooked. At first I was put off by not knowing the details of everything they were talking about, but as things got revealed that irritation faded. By the end I was practically gobbling up the pages, in order to see what happened next.
There are enough twists and turns to keep anyone’s interest, particularly once you get about a third of the way through the novel. Once you hit that point, it’s like jumping on a roller coaster. The events occur rapidly, bouncing from one to the next. Considering this, it’s really a miracle that Nate was able to put the pieces of the puzzle together at all, let alone in time (I know, I know, he sort of had some help in the end, but you get what I mean).
I loved Duffy’s writing style; it was detailed but not excessive, and while there were a few bits I feel we could have lived without (seeing the murder from the killer’s perspective really wasn’t necessary, since all the pieces had been laid out by then) I still greatly enjoyed it.