D. Donovan, Senior Reviewer at the Midwest Book Review, has a review of In the Company of the Dead in this month’s MBR Bookwatch (if you follow the link, press Ctrl+F and type In the Company of the Dead to find the review).
Otherwise, here is what she had to say:
“In a literary world increasingly dominated by staccato-quick scenes that mimic the haste of films without taking time to build foundations of support, it’s a pleasure to see something different within In the Company of the Dead. Some of the most notable fantasy authors create powerful reads with slower beginnings that lead up to a crescendo of gripping action – such as this story, which begins with orphan Ellaeva’s desire to avenge her parents’ death when she’s chosen to be the Left Hand of Death.
In her world (and during the course of her quest) the fine lines between justice and revenge blur, tainting a journey powered by grief and anger. All this is about to take yet another turn when In the Company of the Dead opens mid-quest and introduces new facets to her life’s purpose.
Much like the acclaimed fantasy writer Patrick Rothfuss’s productions, In the Company of the Dead evolves slowly for the first few chapters. There are maps, a good number of characters who interact with protagonist Ellaeva, a “David and Goliath” feel as forces clash and political and personal concerns become caught in the middle of wider-ranging issues, and several different heroes, including a wandering priestess and a military figurehead.
Fantasy readers who enjoy battle descriptions and conflict will be especially pleased with Ciara Ballintyne’s attention to detail as she describes some epic conflicts that embrace romance, ideals, and life purposes after setting the stage for a compelling world packed with realistic medieval trappings and issues that demand its readers become emotionally involved in the characters’ concerns.
While In the Company of the Dead is not recommended for leisure readers seeking a quick pursuit filled with more action than thought, it’s perfect for the fantasy fan seeking depth, who appreciates a slow build-up before the fiery action begins. Such an audience will find this perfectly fits the definition of an epic saga: sweeping, complex, and ultimately engrossing.”
About In the Company of the Dead
Only a fool crosses a god, but Ellaeva and Lyram will do anything to get what they want.
Chosen as a five-year-old orphan to be the Left Hand of Death, Ellaeva has nothing to call her own—nothing except a desire to avenge her slaughtered parents. Her duties leave her no time to pursue the man responsible, until both her work and revenge lead to the same place—the lonely castle where Lyram Aharris is serving out his exile after the murder of his wife.
Lyram is third in line for the throne, and when the castle is unexpectedly besieged, he fears his prince means to remove him from contention for the crown permanently. Ellaeva’s arrival brings hope, until she reveals she has not come for the siege, but instead she hunts the castle for a hidden necromancer dedicated to the dark god of decay.
Within their stone prison, Ellaeva and Lyram must fight to save themselves from political machinations and clashing gods. But as the siege lengthens, the greatest threat comes from an unexpected quarter.
For fans of Brent Weeks, Patrick Rothfuss and Brandon Sanderson.