A Ritual of Flesh by Lee C. Conley – Review

A Ritual of Flesh by Lee C. Conley Cover
Art by: Cloud Quinot

Tomekeeper’s Marginalia: A RITUAL OF FLESH takes everything that was great about book one and pulverises it into a bigger, badder, bloody mess of a book. Everything is heightened and honed, with the action and horror elements deliciously amplified. It’s the perfect sequel, and to think that there’s more to come…


Grab a copy:

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Trigger warnings: Graphic violence, death



First off, thanks to Storytellers on Tour for having me along on another awesome tour, and also to Lee C. Conley for writing one hell of a series! Check out the tour page over at the Storytellers on Tour site.

If you haven’t already, check out my review of book one, A Ritual of Bone.

Review

A RITUAL OF FLESH is book two of Lee C. Conley’s ‘The Dead Sagas’ series and sequel to the outstanding A Ritual of Bone.

The setting itself is reminiscent of Anglo-Saxon and Norse culture, heavy on horror, violence, and dark fantasy — think The Last Kingdom re-imagined by Romero and Tarantino, and you won’t be far wrong.

A RITUAL OF FLESH kicks off almost immediately after the events of book one, and there is pretty much zero settling in time. In a Ritual of Bone, the horror and tension slowly clawed its way from one to ten, but here you’re dumped straight in at ten and dragged to a hundred in a scant few pages.

The world has quite literally gone to hell, plague stalks the land killing thousands if not tens of thousands, fell sorcery has been abused creating reanimated and ravenous dead, the living have been turned into feral bestial hunters, cannibals in the north, raiders, threats of war… and breathe.

Quite literally, every single kind of unwanted fuckery is afoot. Any single one of threats by themselves would make for a great book, but that there are so many and so masterfully blended together, it makes for an exhilarating and monumental reading experience.

What I particularly enjoyed was that each of the different ‘POV groups’ had experience with some, but not all, of the strands. This created a deliciously tangible sense of distrust between each group, and this lack of cohesion served as fuel for the fire causing many an issue down the line. Frequently while reading, I would just stop and berate a character, “Listen to them, get your shit together”, they obviously didn’t and so would earn a resigned “Well, they told you” a few chapters later.

This electrifying inter-personal tension is achievable thanks to Conley’s glorious characterisation. The cast is large but balanced and diverse, with everyone bringing both good and bad to the table. Between the two books, each character has grown with some subtle and not so subtle changes as they deal with their own individual losses and horror. The way they change and adapt carries with it a remarkable realism and adds to their depth as we see who remains true to themselves and who is willing to take moral shortcuts. While I loved them all in A Ritual of Bone, they feel so much more fleshed out here, making for great reading — and good eating…

As with the players, the stage has been beautifully expanded upon, with so much more depth and flavour added to the broader world. Conley’s world was already great, suffused with deep lore, studded with fascinating locales, and draped with sumptuous ambience, but it’s amplified magnificently in A RITUAL OF FLESH.

The atmosphere throughout is oppressive and laced with dread. The scenes in the streets of Arn were some of the best, and I really felt as though I too was trapped alongside the starving husks of its populace.

Conley’s writing style covers the entire range between brutal and hauntingly beautiful and is never anything short of evocative. Fight scenes are written with a swordsman’s eye and are as bloody and visceral as ever.

A RITUAL OF FLESH truly is a thunderous sequel, and I honestly cannot wait to see what comes next.


Book Info

Published: October 10, 2020 by Wolves of Valour Publications
Genre(s): Fantasy, Horror.
Author: Lee C. Conley | leeconleyauthor.com

Check out the tour schedule for A RITUAL OF FLESH below, and make sure to check out all the other great reviews, interviews, and features. Plus don’t forget to enter the amazing giveaway where you could win a signed hardcover or your choice of an audiobook or eBook.

A Ritual of Flesh Tour Schedule Storytellers on Tour

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