Bryan Tann, Dark Lands, 2017
Bryan Tann’s novel focuses on a vampire hunter named Bryce Kreed, a no-nonsense enforcer whose means are questionable and disputed, but the results are outstanding. He is summoned from his post in Seattle to help out with Mistress Enya Blake in Pittsburgh, as she is under threat by an unknown group. Enya and Bryce eventually become close as they unravel the real reasons behind her threat.
Vampires are not the only species wondering around America in Tann’s novel, as the main villain tasked with killing Bryce is a werewolf, while magicians also frequent. This adds a new layer to the novel as different skill-sets and powers can be used to help out in various scenarios. And it’s this inclusion of other species which bring about one of the main surprises in the novel.
One of the best aspects to Tann’s novel is his characterisation of Bryce; from the early moments we see him until the end we get a nice character arc. Having been a killer for over 200 years we are presented with a thug-like man who simply enjoys the killing, but by the end he’s actively seeking forgiveness for his crimes and allowing romance into his life. Even when he feeds off humans for their blood, he picks out those he believes are sinners; his conscience eventually becomes a recurring theme. This added to his back-story we are given flesh out Bryce’s character and allow him to evolve as the story progresses to the point where we genuinely care for him in his fights, rather than simply enjoying his actions.
However, Tann’s character dialogue was a little off-putting at times. Bryce is notorious for his crude language and swears quite often, as do his enemies, and his phrases during their fights can be a little over the top. While that may be an entirely selective opinion, to me Bryce didn’t come across as cool or hard, he simply came across as a stereotype, which can never be good. Also it did make me think that with Bryce being over 300 years old his speech was very modern. Yes he could have adopted and changed over his lifespan, but I just thought it would have been a little bit more interesting to have Bryce drop a word from the 1700s now-and-then.
Another slight issue was with Tann’s frequent use of having one character’s actions in the same sentence as another character’s speech (for example: ‘“Mistress Blake, the Governors are already here and awaiting your arrival.” Enya offered the Thrall a kind smile’). In that example the spoken words were from the Thrall, not from Enya which is normally assumed in instances where a character name immediately follows a speech. This isn’t confusing or difficult, but in a few instances it did make me have a double take. The only other issue with Tann’s writing is a recurring trait that everyone growls when they speak in anger. Again it’s nothing off-putting but it was noticeable.
That aside Tann’s writing was very effective in telling what needed to be told. The story paced itself very well and the fight scenes were vividly detailed (as was the torture scene) so it was easy to picture what was going on at all times.
The Story of Bryce Kreed: The Enforcer: Dark Lands (The Path of Redemption Book 1) on the whole, though, was a very interesting book with enough twists and turns to keen you reading. As mentioned, the use of various supernatural creatures brought along a well-known name of myth to the story to add to the constant surprises, as was having the culprit being a secret and the histories of Bryce and Enya. The story is well structured, with enough happening in each chapter to keep you reading, even if there were a few minor tweaks I’d prefer weren’t in there.
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