Monday, May 30, 2011
Review: On Dark Shores 1: The Lady by JA Clement
Life for Nereia, an orphaned thief living in the port town of Scarlock, has never been easy. Her parents died when she was in her early teens leaving her to raise her toddler of a sister, Mary, on her own. Nonetheless her inner strength as always gotten her through, allowing her to escape selling herself into prostitution and keeping her sister safely under the radar of Copeland, an uncle of sorts who controls all underground activities in Scarlock. When Copeland rediscovers Mary years later he tries to use her as leverage to force Nereia to participate in his latest scheme. Nereia decides to take Mary and run but Copeland won't let them go that easy, and has more depraved parts to his soul than even he himself suspected.
Clement's greatest strength as a writer is her characterization. It is amazing how well she can breath life into a character, revealing their every nuance in a minimal amount of words. The frequent point of view changes were cleverly used as well to create an even pacing throughout. The world building in this novel was also done well and believable through an almost minimalist approach. Initially the POV characters kept a very insular view, well suited to people who have never left a small town. While some of the other, more traveled characters, later on in the novel left some very tantalizing hints about the larger world that I would very much like to see followed up in future work. My only issue with this novel was the lack of a solid ending. While there is a conclusion of sorts to this chapter in Nereria's and Mary's lives there was a touch too much focus on setting the stage for the next book. This is however a minor blemish and could probably have been eased by shifting the order of a few view points.
Overall Clement has produced a tight, well written debut that whets the appetite for future installments. 8/10.