Of Sand and Malice Made by Bradley P. Beaulieu. ★★★
Of Sand and Malice Made is a short prequel to the fantasy novel, Twelve Kings of Sharakhai (which I have not yet read) and follows the heroine of that book, Çeda.
Going in, I thought Of Sand and Malice Made was a novella (it’s only 175 pages). As it turns out, the format is closer to three highly related short stories. Çeda, a young pit fighter in the arena, crosses the path of an ehrekh, Rümayesh. The ehrekh is a creature made long ago by the god of chaos, and this one is living in Sharakhai, stealing human’s memories.
Perhaps it was the nature of the book’s format with its three different parts, but I had a lot of trouble with the pacing. For such a short book, it took me an unusually long time to finish. I would read a few pages and end up putting it down, sometimes to read something else. If I hadn’t intended on finishing it for a review, I likely would have quit less than halfway in.
I never got much of a feel for Çeda or the other characters. Çeda felt like she was often reacting to the plot instead of driving it, and I would have liked to see more of what motivates her outside of her reactions to specific plot points.
The most intriguing thing about the book was the world building, but it can be hard to read something solely for the world. There’s hints at some interesting mythology, and the city did manage to feel vivid and lifelike for such a short book. If there’s one good thing that came out of reading Of Sand and Malice Made, it’s that I’m now more likely to finally getting around to checking the full length novel out of the library.
I received an ARC of Of Sand and Malice Made from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.