Monday, 16 September 2013

The Narrowing Path by David J Normoyle

The Narrowing Path (Goodreads)

I found this gem of a book on Netgalley and was struck by the cover: definitely intriguing. The blurb clinched the deal, luring me in . . .

Only the strongest, smartest and most ruthless will survive.
Every six years, the world draws nearer to the sun. In Arcandis, those who want to live must claim the limited places in the Refuge, a series of underground caverns cooled by the sea.

The teenage boys of noble birth are sent out into the city to demonstrate their wits and strength. Some prove themselves in combat, others display their empire building skills, still others attempt to kill off their rivals. Out of over a hundred, only six will be selected by the leaders of the great families and allowed a place in the Refuge. The rest will perish, one way or another.

Not only is thirteen-year-old Bowe younger and weaker than most of the other boys, he has no family to support him. He is expected to die on the very first day of the narrowing path. Instead he begins a journey no one could have anticipated.

Unable to resist The Hunger Games feel of it, I immediately requested it and am delighted to say that it delivered on all its promises. I started reading in the evening and found myself still awake at three in the morning when I turned the last page on my Kindle. I was so impressed that I filed it into it's own category under the author's name. I only ever do that if I intend reading more of an author's work. The rest of the books get shoved into a genre category.

Okay . . . so what made it so good?

The book is definitely dystopian (thoroughly brutal in fact) but it has a high fantasy setting! Anyone familiar with my blog will know that fantasy and sci-fi are my first loves. That said, one of my reading delights this year has been the discovery of some great cross-over books that mash different genres together - like this one - making for a fascinating read. As far as I can see, it's mainly indie-authors who are daring to write like this, and David J Normoyle has done it very well in The Narrowing Path.

The plot kicks off without too much backstory or preamble and we are in the world of Arcandis, following the fortunes - and misfortunes - of Bowe Bellanger, our young hero. I was instantly sucked in even though the first few pages bombarded me with names and titles and quite complicated aspects of Arcandis life. I admit, it could be an overwhelming beginning, but I was so intrigued by the action that I barreled through it and was hooked. 

Bowe Bellanger is a delightfully flawed hero with a giant-sized heart. He captured my sympathy instantly and although sometimes he made some really stupid decisions as he battled to stay alive on the 'path', I was rooting for him all the way through. Be warned though, this book is not for the faint-hearted: deaths - gruesome ones - occur every few pages. In that aspect it makes The Hunger Games look like a church picnic. 

Bowe also has some strange ideas about girls. But given his background and age, I found it quite acceptable. He is the perfect gentleman to the high class damsel in distress, but cannot cope with the tough, kick-butte peasant girl (whom he secretly fancies) who helped save his life a few times. I suspect this is going to be an area explored by Normoyle in subsequent books and I imagine young Bowe is going to learn some short, sharp lessons about dealing with women. I can't wait to read about them.

From that, you can guess that I will be reading the next two books in the series: The Treacherous Path and The Collapsing Path. You can bet on it.

So how many stars for The Narrowing Path? A solid four star read!

I will be doing an interview with David Normoyle on Wednesday when I will be giving away a couple of his books. It will be well worth stopping by for a chance to win.


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