Ghosts in the Snow (2004)
Dubric is the head of security at Castle Faldorrah--a matter of self-preservation, since he is haunted by the ghosts of those who are murdered at the castle, until their killers come to justice. In the past there has been only an occasional killing, but now young servant women and girls are being gruesomely murdered, and not only the ghosts are after Dubric to find the killer.
Ghosts in the Snow is a combination fantasy novel and murder mystery--although a bit on the gruesome side. The murders are bloody and described in detail. Gruesome, but it shows the horror of the the murders, and how they affected the castle and the people in the castle.
I found this interesting as both a mystery and a fantasy. The world was similar enough to ours that the story required only minimal world building, but there were enough details dropped to draw your interest.
The mystery element was also good, although there were a few things I didn't care for. The murders were more gruesome than I personal care for, and I'm not particularly fond of reading the point of view of the hidden murderer. I suppose it's interesting in a way to see the kind of mind that could perpetrate such horrors, but it's not particularly my favorite. I'd rather have left that part out all together, and read only Dubric's point of view.
However, despite that, I still thoroughly enjoyed the story. The dialog was good, there were several sub-threads that I quite enjoyed. I also very much liked the characters. In addition to Dubric, there were plenty of minor characters who were nicely developed.
All in all, a good first book.
Threads of Malice (2005)
Valley of the Soul (2006)
Valley of the Soul is the third book in the Dubric Byerly mystery series. I read Ghosts in the Snow and enjoyed it, and decided to order the rest of series. Unfortunately, Threads of Malice was out of print, so I had to skip to Valley of the Soul. Although I missed events in the previous book, I was able to quickly pick up where we were and enjoy the story. Additionally, once I got into the book (it was put down a quarter of the way in, so I could read Dzur) I was unable to put it down until it was finished. (i.e. I was up way past my bedtime to finish the book. Thank goodness it was Saturday night.)
Dubric and his staff are sent to the village of Quarry Run, to investigate the mutilation of local sheep. This investigation turns up more than missing and mutilated sheet–it turns up the possibility that there is a mage (one who somehow survived the wars) loose in the village.
We earn a lot in this book, including Lars’ parentage, how Dubric’s wife Oriana died, and quite a bit about the mage wars and what brought Faldorrah to its current state.
The one thing I want to make clear about this series is these books are not just mysteries and fantasies, but also have a good dose of horror/gruesomeness, as the author describes the bodies of the sheep and mage’s victims, as well as the bodies of various accident victims, and the patients of local sanitariums. However reading about these things almost never bothers me, I found the realism a nice touch.
The world building continues, and becomes more and more fascinating as we learn of more details. The more I learn, the more curious I become about the disasters and wars that shaped the world as it is.
The mystery is also very good. There are twists and turns involving not just the mystery of what was happening in Quarry Run, but family intrigues, including Dien and Dubric’s families.
If you enjoyed Ghosts in the Snow and want to continue the series. I’m going to look for a good used copy of Threads of Malice but Valley of the Soul was a good book, and not hard to follow, even skipping the second book.
Rating: 7/10 s