Ashrinn Pinecroft is an ex-Special Ops soldier who discovers that he has the ability to channel the Divine and swiftly finds himself heading a supernatural military order designed to combat the evil and corruption in the world.
I want to start by saying that I enjoyed this book, particularly the characterization, and that I would recommend this book to fans of Contemporary Fantasy and Indie Authors, as well as anyone who loves gut-wrenching tragedy in their stories.
However, I had a lot of difficulty reading the beginning of this story. The pacing of No Deadly Thing tends to stutter along and the reader is not given any strong guidance about how much time is passing, or what has happened in that downtime. Additionally, there is a wide milieu of PoV characters and it is not always clear why some of them are necessary (although by the end of the book this does become more apparent). I think that the unclear time jumps and strange pacing could have been easier to manage if I was not also trying to understand why so many characters were important to the story or vice versa. I struggled until about the halfway point in the book which was not long after I finally began to figure out that there were large time jumps. It was also at the exact same time as Luisidris’ revelation, which is the massive turning point in the book. Additionally, it is clear that the events of the book are having an effect on the entire country if not the entire world. Although there are very brief mentions of what is happening elsewhere in the country, I wish that it had been explored just a little more deeply.
From that halfway point forward I could not put the book down. While the first half of the book described Ashrinn and Malkai’s personal struggles with each other and their families, and dabbled into setting up the Storm—a supernatural Special Ops team—and the magical setting, the second half was almost non-stop action, massive desolation, and blood-burning character revelations. It reminded me of the duality of light versus dark that was central to the main plot. The only major issue I had with the pacing of the second half of the book is that the ending felt abrupt and I still felt like we were in the middle of the story—which may have been intentional if a sequel is being planned.
As I said above the characterization in this novel was fantastic, and my only wish was that it had been expanded upon even more. Ashrinn as the primary protagonist was an interesting and powerful choice. His character was symbolic of the story at large: presented to the public eye as a strong, unshakable military man, but in private suffered from incredible weakness when interacting with his wife. I thought that this, combined with Ashrinn’s bisexuality, had a lot to say about what sort of “masculinity” readers often expect of male protagonists. Ashrinn is not a good or a bad guy, but he is an interesting character that ultimately fights for the light. I hope that further novels from Gray continue to explore him.
Jericho was easily my favourite character in the entire book, and although she was one of many PoV characters, she was also one that I never felt was extraneous. I wish that Jericho had been introduced a little earlier in the story and I wish that we had seen more of her relationship with her family before the end of the book. Jericho is brave, struggling, powerful and afraid. She is portrayed as carrying a great curse and in those rare chapters that we get to step inside her head we are offered some insight into how great that curse is. By the end of the book, Jericho’s curse shifts into full-fledged tragedy and her response to it brought me to tears.
Sonth is the third character I’m going to go into depth on. While Sonth’s part in the story was integral—there are multiple times that we would be short a protagonist without her presence—she was written like a minor character. That said, her opening scene and role in the Storm are some of the most powerful parts of the story. Sonth is mysterious and terrifying and I wanted to know more about her. I wanted more insight into her relationship with Ashrinn. I wanted her to speak more. I wanted inside of her mind. I desperately hope that this character shows up in future books as well—and that she becomes a major character.
Overall, No Deadly Thing was exciting, action-packed, dark, beautiful and tragic. Sticking with the difficult pacing is more than worth it. As other critiques have noted, there are a few more spelling, grammatical, and punctuation errors than I would have liked, but the story is by no means harder to read for it. I urge readers to purchase this book and give it a read. Afterward, help me to urge Gray to write a sequel!
You can purchase No Deadly Thing here.