This book started out eerily like The Thief Lord by Scott Lynch. Namely because there is a Thief Lord of sorts in this story, although she is a woman, and there is remaining architecture from an earlier, smarter, vanished, culture. I read those things, and went, 'oh dear,' because I was fearing a rehash. Very quickly though, this book turned in a different direction, and the similarities ended.
Now, a little bit about me: truth is I'm quite new to the fantasy genre (although this book might be a / with science fiction). I mean within the last 3 years new, and so far I've really stuck to fairy-tale-like fantasy. This book, I have to say, is the most different world from our own of any book that I've read. This was both a good thing (because I found the world in the book interesting) and a bad thing (because at times it seemed disconcertingly weird).
Okay. That's enough about me. Now onto the synopsis.
Rail and Moa are sent on a mission to steal an object, but instead of turning it over to their thief mistress, the one who sent them for it, they see the value in the object, because it is clearly technology created by a vanished culture, and worth a great deal, so they decide to keep the object, and make a run for it. They quickly discover that the object they've stolen has the power to create a doorway through a solid wall. Every thief's dream!
Moa, though, has her own dreams. The island that they live on is a cruel one. It is covered by chaos storms, and if you are caught in their path, they can leave you changed in any number of horrible and random ways. Rail, himself, knows this through experience: a chaos storm left him unable to breathe on his own. Despite Moa's dreams, there's no way off the island, but now that they have this object...perhaps?
On the run from the thief mistress' assassin, who is trying to get the object from them, they meet a Frankenstein-like, human-created being, named Vago, who was built to kill, and then whisked away from his creator by a chaos storm, his memories lost. Like Frankenstein, he is horrifying to look at, but he has a tender heart. Vago is searching for his maker, with the hopes that he can answer the questions Vago has about himself.
Vago wears a bird around his neck that flew through his window one day and died. Moa can tell that this bird is clearly from off the island...and if that bird could get ONTO the island, maybe the 3 of them, Rail, Moa, and Vago, can get OFF, with the help of the object they now possess?
Their journey begins, but, unsurprisingly, is not an easy one to complete.
Okay. I made it 2/3rds of the way through, and there was something TOTALLY disgusting, which made me want to stop reading, so I scanned ahead, and the last 2/3rds of the book is REALLY bleak and dark, so I stopped reading.
The 3 star rating is for the 1st 2/3rds of the book, which I was actually really enjoying, it's just a shame about the rest.