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  • Writer's pictureChristina Pfeiffer

06/17/2023 Sonja Ska Reviews


By Daniel J. Volpe

I've trusted Daniel J. Volpe to take me to some pretty twisted and depraved places, so it's fitting that I follow him into his first foray into fantasy. To be fair, I've been salivating for more disturbing fantasy since devouring The Monster of Elendhaven by Jennifer Giesbrecht, so I leaped at the chance to read A Story of Sorrow: Book 1: Of Flesh and Blood when it came out. 

A Story of Sorrow has everything you want in a fantasy novel - a down-on-his-luck protagonist, twisted magic, and non-stop action from the first page…just don't expect to find any heroes here. From Sorrow to the hired hands, he finds himself entangled with; readers are thrust into the ranks of men who brag about their kill count as they investigate ominous rumors circling a small town.

Those familiar with Volpe will feel right at home with his gratuitously gritty prose about colons being popped open, but he shows new strength in vivid world-building only his twisted mind can create. His splatterpunk roots strip away the hopeful padding that often buffers run-of-the-mill fantasy books, depositing you in a world that feels cruel from the first mention of a whip held in a character's hand. Death here seems ugly, agonizing, and permanent. But living means facing monstrosities that make you think you were better off dead.

With only 105 pages, A Story of Sorrow reads like a prologue for more twisted adventures yet to come, but it's enough time for Volpe to introduce you to his merciless world and characters. Maybe I shouldn't have become so endeared to a group of sell swords with women and children on their rap sheet, but Volpe manages to humanize the unlikeable, and I'm fully invested in following Sorrow through whatever hell he walks through next.


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