Whenever I am asked to read and review a book, my very first port of call has to be not the plot, or the characters, or even the writing style! But can I actually read it without heading for the Asprin at some point! With the huge influx in the five years or so of self-published work, the increase of badly edited and grammatically frightening books has been exponential, the idea of a stream of consciousness without even so much as a comma, let alone the odd full-stop is something that all reviewers come up against now and again, the author’s belief that their tale must be told is so strong that they forget however wonderful it is, it must also be readable!
So, I am extremely pleased to say that Of Virtue and Damnation by Mandi Martin has been well edited and is written in a nice easy to digest style! Spending a little time on the editing before publication has served this book well!
I really did enjoy this rather haunting tale, at 132 pages, it is a fairly easy tale to get through, while being long enough to not leave you feeling short changed.
The story centres around Abbe Jerome Dubois is a young Xianic priest who is sent to help prepare and support a dying noblewoman, but the Marchioness is not were the problem lies! Her husband, a rather aptly named Lucian Beaumont, take very little time in showing his true colours (incidentally, I really enjoyed the initial foray into the Chateau, it was extremely descriptive, and gave life and colour to the tale). In the household is also a young girl names Charlotte, a servant who also lives in the Chateau, and it is her that Jerome finds himself risking everything to protect.
But Lucien is an older, wiser and cruel man. I don’t want to give too much away at this point, but I will just say he has a certain hold over the young priest, one which seems, at times, impossible to break.
I liked the characters, I found Jerome at first a little too aloof, but as the book goes on each of them are more rounded out. Charlotte and Lucien are easy to like and hate in equal measure. My only irritation is the Marchioness, who I found a little clichéd.
Eventually, Of Virtue and Damnation shows itself to be a simple tale of good and evil, but this is more than just simply can good prevail, but more can the faith of our young priest prevail when confronted with such unexpected and deep rooted evil! Will this young man find the strength to break through, or will the scars inflicted on him, in the end prove too much to bear?
Of Virtue and Damnation is a little slow in places, but I can forgive the author, Mandi Martin, because for the most part the story is pretty fast moving, and I admit there were times when I was desperate to know the outcome! There is a lot of symbolism in the book, some of which I understood, but some of which at times seemed an unnecessary addition.
All in all I really enjoyed this first story from Mandi Martin, it is well written and plausible (within its parameters), I enjoyed the tension and found the characters well fleshed out!
You can find Of Virtue and Damnation on Amazon HERE