“He moves through the familiar graveyard. The ancient willow trees know him, and bend aside for him. He scales the cliff-side rather than take the longer, guarded path. The worm-men are looking for him; he can hear them calling to one another in horrible rattles too soft for any human ear to hear. There will be a reckoning, he promises them silently.”
To say that the hype surrounding The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan is intense would be an understatement. Anticipation levels have been through the goddamn roof since I first saw that gorgeous cover from the genius that is Richard Anderson. It just may be one of my favorite pieces that he has done! Oh, and the hype is warranted.
The Gutter Prayer is… well, damn. It would take ages to describe exactly what this is about and my opinion is that the less you know about this the better! Briefly, though. It features three friends, thieves, who get caught up in an ongoing magical battle. Shenanigans abound.
This somehow felt like kismet, reading this massive story during December. The magical holidays, when I usually binge the extended versions of Lord of the Rings. Something about an immersive fantasy during the dreary winter months just does it for me, even more than usual. Envisioning going far away on an epic adventure.
However, my reading pace has been atrocious lately, which may have affected how I felt towards the beginning. I think it’s a story that works better if you can read for lengthier periods of time, rather than a bunch of short sessions like I had. That being said, the last 100+ pages were fucking bonkers, in just the best way. I couldn’t put it down!
It’s evident that Hanrahan writes role-playing games, because he took all of the best things from RPG’s & made it into something even more mesmerizing within this fantasy epic. The world building is just wondrous. The characters are intriguing (I loved Aleena. She is such a badass!). The storytelling is phantasmal. It’s a book that I had to stop and turn around in my head for a bit once it had ended.
The Gutter Prayer is incredibly original. When I say original, I bloody mean original. It delights me when I read something that I can’t immediately compare to another piece of work. That’s a major bonus. Within, there is a smorgasbord of imaginative beings littering the universe. Monsters, humans, sorcerers, Lovecraftian ghouls, Gods, saints, Tallowmen (warriors made from wax), AND MOTHER FUCKING WORM CREATURES THAT FEAST ON THE DEAD.
Is it grimdark? Absolutely. But there are hopeful undertones as well. It’s one that I think most fans of dark fantasy will love!
“Rain drums on the warehouse roof like fingers on a coffin lid. The world’s buried alive by clouds.”
The Gutter Prayer was a brilliantly fucked up, unique, and intelligent debut. Even though this works incredibly well as a standalone, I have a feeling that the next book will be even better. There is a world of potential in Hanrahan with this as his debut novel!
Read The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan
(Massive thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)
**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**