Sent to me by Titan Books in exchange for an honest review.
Release Date: 12/09/17
Publisher: Titan Books
Format: Paperback, 304pp
Summed up in a word: Surrealistic
I feel I can always turn to Titan Books if I ever need a decent fantasy read and Split Feather proves this fact. This is Deborah A. Wolf’s second book via Titan and it is most certainly an interesting read. Exploring some fantastic ideas and themes within the story of a lost soul looking for her spiritual and physical home. I wasn’t sure where DAW was taking this series in the first act but I was impressed with the end result by a mile. Split Feather isn’t what it seems on the surface and it is filled with plenty of cool, fantastical and outright horrific imagery and a brilliant story that will keep plenty of readers glued to the page.
Siggy Aleksov sees demons and talks with creatures she knows aren’t really there. Taken from her family as a child, she is dogged by memories of abandonment, abuse, and mental health issues. Siggy suffers from a hot temper, cluster headaches, caffeine addiction, and terminal foul language.
She complicates her life even more when she saves the life of a talented assassin sent to kill her. Deciding to get the hell out of Dodge, Siggy travels to the Alaska bush to find out who she really is. The answer is more fantastic that she could have imagined—and she can imagine a lot.
I have to say that my experience of reading Split Feather had plenty of ups and downs. The premise caught me immediately and I was excited to get into a story of demons, badass fighters and fantasy elements. Split Feather is all these things but it really feels like a set-up novel that is going to go on to bigger and better things; not the glorious blast of the gate I was hoping for. DAW has done a great job of getting me to invest in Siggy’s character and her journey of discovery; but via as story that took too long to establish and finished just as it was getting exciting. I understand this was done for anticipation and suspense for the next instalment but I feel a little more of that ingenious fantasy writing could have been included within Split Feather to keep me sated until the next adventure.
Split Feather follows Siggy Aleksov and her quest to find out the true roots of her family. Having been discarded as a child and cast into the perilous fostering system, Siggy has grown up an outcast in her own life. Also she is cursed with the ability to see and be influenced by other worldly demons. After saving the life of an assassin sent to kill her and narrowly avoiding another murder attempt, a reeling Siggy receives a message from an old man claiming to be family. Siggy is desperate to know her true origins and after being forced to leave town by her would be killer, Siggy makes her way to Alaska to meet her grandfather. What she finds in Alaska will change the course of her life forever and after many trials and tribulations, Siggy begins to understand what she is meant to do with her life. This story takes us beyond the safety of reality and into hell and beyond. I was impressed with the story in Split Feather but I have to admit I was rather annoyed it was cut short at the end.
Deborah A. Wolf is a stand out fantasy writer in 2017. Split Feather is a testament to her abilities to write memorable and well mapped out fantasy novels with complex plot components and brilliant mythological foundations. I am genuinely excited to read another instalment as the ending of Split Feather got me really pumped up. By the end of the novel the story was turning out exactly as I had been wanting but as these elements came into fruition, it ended! So harsh. I could have done with another act to sate my desire for a more complete and pleasing story, but I am happy to wait.
DAW writing is confident, complex and at times incredibly badass; DAW has put a lot of thought into Siggy’s character and how she develops over the course of the tale. The pacing was neat and DAW was able to create a bold and unforgiving story that blew me away in the third act. It did take about half the novel for DAW to really hit her stride but when the novel hits its sweet spot I was blown away. I was pleasantly surprised that Siggy’s mythology was completely personal to her and not just another story re-purposed for her own plot line. I did some digging because I was interested in exploring the characters within but they are completely original and I am fascinating by them. The second half of the novel is by far the best as it takes what DAW had been slowly building in the first half to another level. If you have/are reading Split Feather and are waning slightly I implore you to stick with it as it certainly pays off.
Siggy is an easy character to align yourself with. Siggy has had a hard life and it is only getting harder. She is literally battling her own demons and on her good days she can fend them off with ease; on the bad days her demon is able to creep into her mind and play around a bit. I was compelled by Siggy’s character. A fighter but also vulnerable and challenging. I was with her all the way on her journey and it was certainly a journey to remember. I am seriously trying not to go into too much as I don’t wan’t to ruin the essence of the novel. Character wise I was a bit disheartened that all the really interesting individuals on had fleeting appearances and I sincerely hope they show up in further entries in the series.
There are plenty of settings, atmospheres and themes to dig into here. As I said before this was a tad more mythological than I was originally expecting and that was a welcome and fantastically original surprise. Siggy is out of her depth in Alaska but as events unfold she learns that there is much more to her heritage than she could ever have imagined. The story takes place in many different settings so be prepared for one HELL of a ride. There are some hard themes included but they are only touched upon superficially so DAW is focused her writing more on delivering a ferocious tale of demons, killers and mythology that most fantasy readers will adore.
Overall I highly recommend Split Feather but I caution you that this is mainly a set-up novel that I am sure will pay-off down the line. DAW is taking the fantasy genre by storm and she is certainly working her way to becoming a household name. I am seriously excited to see what DAW can deliver when she settles into that confidence she has shown with her first two novels. Try Split Feather, it is a fantasy adventure that shouldn’t be missed.
About Deborah A. Wolf
Deborah A. Wolf has some personal knowledge of life as a barbarian warrior, having grown up in a wildlife refuge in Alaska. She later worked as an Arabic linguist for the US Army. Before Wolf’s formative years in Alaska, she spent some of her early years on a deserted island. She has a love of different cultures where she can use those settings to create giant monsters, as well as flora and fauna. Deborah currently lives in northern Michigan.