Rail City: The Dying Sun ~ my review


2 stars

Read between September 24 and October 2 2013.

Synopsis: A black wall cuts through the taiga, strides a sunken valley, and fills the night with screams and smoke. Sixty-Seven wakes. The blood sign has wrapped her legs in blue, and if the master sees he’ll break her with hammer and nail. She must hide it before anyone can see. Meanwhile the captain of Rail City ignores its politics to study demonkind. But when his demon dies, and he buys another by the name of Sixty-Seven, he finds her unbroken. This is heresy! Unbroken demons wield total power over nature. He must put the nail to her head before anyone can find out… But his wife turns up missing and her guard lies dead in the godmetal roads. So he bonds Sixty-seven with the stars. He must do this long enough for her to dream of his wife. But if people find him harboring an unbroken demon they’ll take her away and arrest him. Then his wife will die, he’ll be branded a heretic, and he’ll lose control of Rail City. But a dream fills Sixty-seven’s mouth with rocks, tightens a rope around her neck, and blinds her with the speckled night of a canvass hood. She has become Sura’s wife, and when the hood is removed distant trees crown a hill. And she wakes. Sura watches her, drumming his fingers on a treewood stand. Does she tell him what she’s seen, or let the woman die? If she tells, won’t he use the hammer and nail, after all?

Bookish things: Approx. 184 pages. The cover is absolutely stunning, even though it’s of a train.

Where to buy: Currently The Dying Sun is unavailable for purchase anywhere as John Elwood is re-releasing the book with extensive editing and updating.

My review: Rail City: The Dying Sun sounded really intriguing when I read the synopsis. It grabs you and makes you believe that this book will be full of awesome. Unfortunately this is not the case.

John’s writing was rather amazing. At times it was poetic in its descriptions and full of crystal clear imagery and at others completely mind-bogglingly vague. I have yet to see another author get it both so right and so wrong in the same book, in the same chapter and even in the same paragraph.

There was a lot of repetitive words (the windows were forever undressed) and at the beginning I thought I might die of overuse of similies and metaphors. Only two or three in each paragraph for the first chapter or so… just a few.

I loved the ideas in the story, the demonkind, the forced slavery, the ‘breaking’ it was very intriguing. I liked the magical elements to the demon nature and how they interacted with the people. It was both gut-wrenchingly horrible and yet thought-provoking too. I would love to see some art work based on these characters.

Hiromi was a complex character and one that I wanted to get to know more.  I didn’t really like Sura and I found the introduction to most of the other characters was too quick, a lot of prior knowledge seemed to be agiven. I did like the guy in the red kimono, except that he was forever being described as hawk-like which got repetitive and annoying.

Some of the scenes could do with a bit more structure, more grounding in location, as I felt sometimes that the story was being told and the scene could be interchangeable. Also, some sort of timeframe would have helped to make the story seem a bit more real too, I wasn’t sure how long days were, or nights, time seemed to be almost unimportant.

I may be a bit thick, but it took me until about 50% through the book to understand that they were on a giant train. I should have picked that up from the title and the cover, but on my kindle I don’t see the cover.  This only caused for my concept of where this was happening to be even further off. Perhaps a bit more of a clear introduction to ‘Rail City’ would have helped avoid this confusion.

An interesting story, but rather disjointed and confusing.

**I was provided an electronic version of the book in return for an honest review**


11 thoughts on “Rail City: The Dying Sun ~ my review

  1. I love that concept! A society who live on an enormous train, how cool is that? I’d be interested to know who built it and why. Where are they going?

  2. I love that cover as well.

    ‘Repetitive’ – a word that scares the life out of every author (apart from contrived). It’s a good tip to do a word search before publishing so the same description isn’t constantly repeated.

    Great review.

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