Spawn of Dyscrasia, by S.E. Lindberg, IGNIS Publishing LLC, Dyscrasia Fiction ™ 235 pages. Front cover by Ken Kelly.
Well, I’m impressed. This is an entertaining fantasy novel that—I would argue—rises to the level of art. I judge that in a couple of ways. First, the actual prose here is simply lovely. It has the kind of poetry and descriptiveness to it that I constantly seek for but seldom find. Note: by lovely I don’t mean that it is sweet and bucolic. Quite the reverse. There are plenty of gore-rich scenes, enough to do a horror novel proud. But the language is so vivid and rich that you can just revel in it. At least, I did.
Second, the thing that really raises this book to the level of art is the fact that the author creates an almost entirely alien world, with many surrealistic elements, and yet never lets the imaginative veil of the story slip. There’s never a moment when you see through the strangeness of the created world to catch a glimpse of the mundane world behind it. This is the equivalent of an actor maintaining a character they are playing even outside the world of a particular film. But, a book typically takes a lot longer to write than an actor would spend living inside a character for a movie. Maintaining the illusion in a novel is hard enough even when the story is much more realistic than the fantasy world Lindberg has created here. I can imagine that doing so took a tremendous amount of focus and attention during the actual writing process. That in itself suggests an artist at work.
The world itself is endlessly fascinating and—in my experience—unique. Although there are beings in the world that resemble insects, and reptiles, and birds, none of them is quite what they seem. You can’t simple file one of the creatures under the label “ant,” or “dragon,” for example, and then feel you’ve captured its essence. They may resemble such beings, but they are not such beings. They are something different, although completely consistent within themselves throughout the story.
Although I enjoyed the book immensely, there is a caveat for the reader that I also want to mention. I would suggest that this book is not one that readers can “toss off casually.” In other words, it demands concentration and focus. Because the author never makes a slip in world building, it means that if you try to read it with half a mind you’ll probably miss something important. I can pick up the typical thriller or western, for example, skip a page here and there, or let it lay for a week and then pick it up again, without any problem. I quickly found that I couldn’t do this with Spawn of Dyscrasia. I needed to immerse myself in the work in order to truly appreciate it.
All in all, I rate this book very highly. I read it in paperback form and am glad I did because I really like this cover as well and will be happy to see it on my shelves. (The cover is by Ken Kelly, who will be no stranger to readers of fantasy.) There is also a Kindle version of the book, though. The paperback is available from both Amazon and Barnes & Noble, and will run you a little less than $14.00 bucks at either site. The Kindle version is $4.99. There is currently no Nook version.
This is actually the second book of Dyscrasia fiction, by the way. The first is called Lords of Dyscrasia. I’ve not read that one and didn’t feel like I needed to in order to understand what was happening here. A third book is planned and it looks like it will be more closely linked to Spawn than Spawn was to Lords. I’ll be starting Lords of Dyscrasia soon, and will be looking forward to the new book.