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Greaveburn by Craig Hallam Review
'Greaveburn' is a Steampunk-inspired gothic fantasy novel written by Craig Hallam, and published in 2012 by Inspired Quill publishing. This article is a review of the book, including plot, world and characters, with an overall star rating.
The book starts with an exciting prologue which sucked me into the story. It was tense, and cunjured up many questions that made me want to keep reading. Being shoved right into the action is one of the best ways to start a book, burning the reader with curiosity and interest before they even reach chapter one.
The book is set in the fictional city of Greaveburn. Hallam's description of the town throughout the book gave me a vision of it having a dark cloud over it, where conspiracy, abuse of power and rebellion hid in every shadow. Hallam captured a dark envisionment of the city, with its huge cathedral, the wall, and secret parts of the town. It suggested a city shrouded in mystery and corruption.
The only small disappointment was that it gave the book the feeling that Greaveburn was the only place in the world; although another town was mentioned in some dialogue, it still felt as if the main city was the only place in Hallam's universe. However, this caused an effect of loneliness, and being outcast in an inescapable domain, and might very well have been the intention of the writer.
- Craig Hallam | An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction.
An author of Speculative Fiction, speculates about fiction. (by Craig Hallam)
The story wasn't a typical hero-beats-villian-happily-ever-after. The story was original; there were many unpredictable plot twists and turns, the characters steered away from stereotypes, and the story flowed in such a way that it was a book I didn't want to put down. I found the ending to be slightly sudden - the rest of the story had been a constant build up of tension, and the last few chapters seemed to have been fairly rushed. However, the overall story was extremely enjoyable, and the ending was not disappointing.
Hallam usually delivered great descriptions and engaging dialogue. He used similes more often than the average writer, and although these were clearly to convey imagery, they were sometimes a little hit and miss. Action scenes were always well-written; Hallam's use of varying verbs and nouns caused it to be exciting and kept it interesting. He didn't use the same stale words as some authors tend to do, but broadened his vocabulary and kept the flow of the writing consistent and fresh.
The characters were always interesting, and weren't predictable stereotypes. The main female character, Abrasia, wasn't a beautiful princess, but a plain girl with more personality than over-emphasised physical beauty. Hallam's different approach to a female character was refreshing and interesting, and made me want to know more about Abrasia as a person.
The 'villain' character, without giving too much away, was a good indication of why this novel qualified as 'steampunk', and was a deliciously mean character was almost insane with evil. The other main characters in it had their own unique personalities, motives and fears that all caused chaos to erupt in the city of Greaveburn. The tale was full of surprises, tension and was vivid in parts; it contained vast imagery, such as the descriptions of the cathedral or the state of Greaveburn's streets in post-action scenes.
Upon finishing the book, it is really indicated, too, that you have to 'pick your own hero' - it's not immediately obvious who was altogether a 'good' character, or 'brave' or 'just'. The story, like the best of its kind, was open for interpretation. I had my own opinion on who was the hero of the story, which seems to have differed from other readers. Being able to discuss who was the hero gave Greaveburn that unique edge.
Overall, this book was an entertaining and enjoyable novel that I would gladly read again, and recommend it to anybody who enjoys fantasy, steampunk and gothic style novels. Hallam's original style, engaging world and memorable characters pursuaded me to give this book four stars out of five.