Review: The Boy with the Porcelain Blade
I had THE BOY WITH THE PORCELAIN BLADE (Amazon) in my Amazon.com cart forever. Several months. So of course, I had it ordered and bought it from a local Barnes and Noble. I’m a pretty fast reader, and THE BOY is not a very long book at all. I knocked it out in about an hour and a half, including rereading a few chapters.
THE BOY is a dark fantasy written by Den Patrick, that revolves around the politics in the aptly named land of Demesne, a pseudo-Franco/Italian land set in a darkly romantic view of the Renaissance. The story follows the exploits of the Orfano (orphan) Lucien, and the main plot over the course of a few days. This is an exceptionally dense and complex book, and written with a gothic mastery that belies the authors pedigree.
The main plot takes place over a few days and deals with Lucien causing an upset inside the established hierarchy of his home and causing conflict to spring between the houses. Every other chapter is a flashback, chronologically leading us from Lucien’s first experiences inside Demense to the present day, and adding and unraveling the plots and threads of the four major houses, and the King and his Majordomo.
This books is an exceptionally dark book, violent and full of language. Patrick uses Italian throughout the book for great effect, and the verbal barbs the characters throw at each other truly causes the book to feel like an exploration of what we imagine deadly politics must have been like in the 1600s.
The characters are smartly realized. I need to call out the fact that, while Patrick’s plot is a bit cliche (rescue the maiden, fight the villain), his characters are far from it. Although Lucien’s ladylove was in peril and danger, you never felt that Lucien was saving her because she couldn’t save herself, but because he was driven to for love. You felt everyone was capable in their own way, and the surprises Patrick holds in reserve never felt forced or like deus ex machina.
Overall, the book is a fast, quick, and expertly delivered read–that I can’t praise enough. I’ve already recommended it to everyone I can, and I’m eagerly planning to read the second book this weekend. A fantastic pseudo-debut from Den Patrick, and I can’t wait for more.
- Recommended Age: 16+
- Language: Lots of f-words and others
- Violence: Yes, it happens, it's bloody, and quick
- Sex: One scene, somewhat graphic