Benjamin Blake yearns for adventure. Working in his uncle’s inn in a small town in rural England during the 1600s doesn’t bring much by way of excitement. There are smugglers and talk of civil war, but it all seems too far out of reach for him to grasp. However, when a renowned witch hunter and his captive – the delightfully malevolent Adefina Corvus – arrive in town one day, Benjamin’s journey takes an unexpected turn and he gets farther away from his old life than he could ever have imagined.
I should be clear at this point – this is a really good book. With a teen protagonist, it could be classed as YA fiction, but like all good YA books it transcends that category. The story and writing have many strengths – the foreboding descriptions of setting and scenery, the wonderfully drawn and complex characters, the interesting twists on genre conventions, the use of tension and dark magic within scenes – but what stood out most for me was the character of Benjamin himself and the relationships he builds with his newfound companions along the way. Benjamin is relatable as a reluctant hero who struggles to do the right thing in the face of his own changing nature and the evil that exists in the world.
Cain’s novel is an excellent showcase for the quality of indie writing that exists out there – its tightly written and edited, with a fast-moving plot, and an allegorical commentary on human nature. What’s more, I was in this world, fully immersed in Benjamin’s journey, and hooked on the story.
I highly recommend this book, and am very much looking forward to the sequel. ‘The Curse of Silver and Sunlight’, like the Grimoire book of dark magic within it, will cast its spell on you and come alive as you read it. Just be careful not to read it in the moonlight – you might find yourself wanting more…
(Book Review by Rob Stevens)