Review by Shellie for Elisha Barber (Book 1 of The Dark Apostle) by E.C. Ambrose
Shellie’s quick take: A very readable, thrilling, and lurid historical fantasy set in a dark, medieval world.
Shellie’s description: Elisha Barber is the main character who carries the title of his profession as his last name. As the title suggest he’s a barber, which during medieval times was a pseudo-doctor of sorts. This immediately brings out horrific and cringe-inducing thoughts; and this book definitely delivers. It is of course gruesome work, but Elisha has the gift of a healer and is not as barbaric as some of the other “doctors” that he is forced to work among.
When the story begins Elisha attempts to assist with the birth of his brother's child. When a tragedy occurs he’s accused of murder and is faced with the choice of working as a surgeon in the King’s war or facing death. When he travels to the battle field, Elisha doesn’t realize that he has powers that are beyond his barbering skills.
Shellie’s thoughts: First off this book is VERY dark and can be shocking. It has details that can be considered gruesome which may not be to the liking of some readers (so potential readers are forewarned). However, the details are often medical in nature and readers who enjoy medical thrillers may like the book. I definitely did. I was completely engrossed from the first pages till the end, and even more so since it felt like I was reading a guilty pleasure. I liked the author’s writing style with gory situations only adding to the intensity of the story for me.
As a historical fantasy there are of course historical details from the 1400s England where it’s set. So there is an authentic feel to the book, even though the language is modern. However, there is no basis of historical fact for the novel. I was actually a bit disappointed to find that none of the characters are based on real people from the past. There is also a strong romantic thread, but it is certainly not a romance. I did like this aspect of the novel since the romance is twisted, which is another plus for horror and dark fantasy lovers.
I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy medical thrillers, horror, and especially dark fantasy, since it appears that the fantastical element becomes stronger within the second book. It’s a 3-star rating for this debut novel – I liked it. The second book has already been released in hardcover with the title Elisha Magus. I will be reading it hoping for more of the pure escapist pleasure that this first book in the series delivered.
Mass Market Paperback | 400 Pages | 3 Jun 2014 | DAW