Title: The Penitent: Part I
Author: A. Keith Carreiro
Genre: Science-Fiction / Fantasy / Spiritual Thriller
In The Penitent: Part I, Pall Warren must learn how to use his gift to reveal truths, defeat evil, and fulfill his own destiny. Along the way, he meets a dynamic cast of characters that help, hurt, and heal him, and he ultimately understands that this journey is his alone.
Pall has a gift from the Gods: his voice. Pall has the power to affect his environment through prayer and song. We see Carreiro’s best writing in the songs and prayers featured in the book. The lyrics are eloquent, symbolic, and feel ethereal. Even though we can’t hear the music, we understand the message and feel its magic.
In The Penitent: Part I, evil takes the form of hair-raising creatures that defy mythical creature tropes. One of the highlights of the book, the fantastical creatures’ appearances, powers, and personalities are unique, dark, chilling, and mysterious.
Carreiro masterfully captures the setting’s atmosphere with descriptions that are detailed and highly specific. In war scenes, depictions of death and injury are gruesome and graphic. When exploring the landscape, the descriptions are even more specific, honing in on the types of trees that fill the forest, the harsh winds and the lightning that strikes wildly as a storm rolls in. Readers will be engrossed in the sensory details, fully losing themselves in these scenes.
In the first half of the book, the perspectives switch between different characters multiple times in one chapter, building tension and suspense between each change in the characters’ points of view. It is fast-paced, action-packed, and surprises are around every corner. Readers will be on their toes, never knowing what will come next for the characters.
However, in the second half, the changes in perspective are drastically less frequent, which may cause readers to feel more distant from the characters. In addition, the pacing overall slows down, even when the stakes are higher than ever. This difference in pacing and perspective prevents us from connecting with the characters as deeply as we could.
Throughout the book, Pall relives the memories of his childhood and younger years that have led him to the present. For the reader, these flashbacks add context and color to Pall’s backstory, but at times, they lack a direct connection to the present. Adding in a more direct cause-and-effect element in the flashbacks would keep readers more grounded in the main storyline, as opposed to whisking them between timelines.
The book includes a legend with a list of the cast of characters, which readers may find especially useful to reference as their understanding of the setting expands and the “sides” that different characters fall on becomes more important. In addition, the legend can be used as a refresh when preparing to read subsequent books in the series.
Readers will relish in the uniqueness and risks that The Penitent: Part I takes. Carreiro ties in spiritual language with fantastical elements to create a one-of-a-kind book that defies tropes and places The Penitent: Part I in a league of its own. Thrilling and filled to the brim with action, The Penitent: Part I is an exciting beginning to this fantasy series.
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