Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt 4)

By Adrian Tchaikovsky
Salute the Dark (Shadows of the Apt 4)

Started reading: 23rd February 2011
Finished reading: 3rd March 2011

Review

Rating: 9

For the past month or so the “Shadows of the Apt”, written by Adrian Tchaikovsky, has been my guilty pleasure. I’ve now read four of the books and I’m having a hard time putting them down. Which is strange, because at some level, it’s kind of embarrassing to admit that I am getting this much enjoyment out of a “fantasy” novel.

Yet, I am.

Shadows of the Apt has all the things that I demand of a book. The characters are real, the action is convincing and it has a compelling story to tell. Nothing seems contrived; the consistency is excellent. All well and good, nothing to be ashamed of.

Then you get to the book’s premise: a world where tribes of people (kinden) inherit the powers of specific arthropods. Or, put another way, giant killer insect men and the bugs they love.

Now do you see why I’m calling this a “guilty” pleasure?

Yet, Tchaikovsky actually goes places with it. There are also glimpses of humanity and surprising depth with themes of racism, classicism, and fears of the other. He also makes a very strong case for why we should pay attention to the world around us and engage with it. But, of course, this being fantasy, all of the heavy stuff is layered in with crisp and witty dialogue, fight scenes, sweeping battles, and hokey moments of giant killer insect men.

It’s positively electric.

And “Salute the Dark” is the best book in the series so far. Indeed, everything leading up to this has been build-up, where “Salute the Dark” is climax and resolution. It’s heart-stopping, mind-blowing, jaw-dropping, and incredible. Wars are ended, problems resolved, and people die.

It also shows that hokey stories of giant killer men can be immensely, incredibly satisfying.