In The Shock of Night, evil is breaking forth from the Darkwater forest, but only a few are aware of the dangers. In a world where some people are "gifted" with special powers, Willet Dura unexpectedly is passed a rare and forgotten gift -- a gift that allows him to see the thoughts and memories of anyone he touches. As the king's reeve, he sets about using his new gift to investigate a suspicious murder. The Vigil, a group of others with the same gift, warn him of the dangers of the gift, and help him learn to use it. Though they're not certain they can trust him due to an impenetrable vault of memories hidden in his mind, they will need his help if they wish to uncover what is happening to all of the people who visited the Darkwater forest.
The first book of The Darkwater Saga, the novel is trying to accomplish a lot of world building and historical significance, a difficult task even in its more than 450 pages. I had unanswered questions and some plot confusion, but perhaps all will be answered in upcoming books.
Published by a Christian publishing company, I was having a little trouble with the religion of this world. It is clear that many characters have a strong faith in Aer (God), and it even seems as though Aer may be a triune god (two other names are sometimes mentioned), but it really isn't clear. In future books of this series, I would hope to have more details if I'm to believe that this should really be considered Christian fiction instead of secular fiction.
The way author Patrick Carr crafts the "gifts" of the world he has built for this series is unique and was a major highlight of the novel. For Willet's particular gift, we get to see how he learns to store the memories he receives from others as books on a book shelf in his mind. This and other details of the specifics of how the gifts work and how Willet learns to use his is very interesting and sets this book apart.
Willet Dura may be an unreliable narrator, as he is unable to remember parts of his past and incapable of seeing inside the black vault of his mind, but otherwise he is a fun person to read about in first person. He makes friends with the poor and the ignored and uses everyone else's avoidance of these people to his advantage. His skills as an investigator are Sherlock Holmes-like, which I found enjoyable to read. I look forward to seeing him continue on this adventure in future books.
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Bethany House Publishers for this review. The opinion in this review is unbiased and reflects my honest judgment of the product.