Sorrow by John Lawson (book review).

October 5, 2014 | By | Reply More

I originally read and reviewed ‘Sorrow’ by John Lawson in 2009. Since then, the original publisher closed its doors, releasing rights back to the author. Together with Dragonwell Publishing, a new edition has been released. While the story remains the same, it has been re-edited and has a gorgeous new cover. Seeing as I enjoyed the story so much last time I read it, I decided to read it again, see if it stood the test of time. It does and the new edition deserves as many flattering reviews as the old one.


Sorrow’ is a standalone novel and serves as a fine introduction and compelling adventure for existing fans of John Lawson’s writing, characters and world. The stories of several characters intertwine in here, providing a rich and meaty plot. Firstly, we have Phindol, a misfortunate traveller with a single-minded mission: to return home with his prize, the Splinter, a fearsome weapon few can wield without causing irreparable damage to their own person. Next, we have Lord Ash, who is named many things, but is principally here in the role of investigator as an arch-bishop has been murdered. He’s not the first in a chain of horrific assassinations, perpetrated by our third and most intriguing character, Sorrow.

Lord Ash’s investigation provides few leads and he is distracted by another house-guest, Faina, a girl on the cusp of adulthood who has captured the interest and hearts of our cast of principle characters. Lord Ash becomes almost as obsessed with her circumstances, as those of the crimes he hopes to solve before Sorrow can kill again.

Sorrow’ is tightly plotted thriller that dances between the questions of church, faith, magic, human relationships and darker desires. Just like any good ‘detective’ novel, just when you think you know who the killer is, the plot twists and you are presented with another possibility. The back stories of the lead characters are intriguing enough to pique your interest, allowing these folks to mingle and interact in a most realistic way. The writing is superb, enhancing the story, adding dialect and distinct flavour to characters voices.

I had only one complaint: I think the identity of Sorrow is revealed a little too quickly. The story doesn’t lose too much suspense as a result, but Lord Ash’s reasoning isn’t really put to too hard a test because we already know the solution to the mystery. The ending, however, is shocking and wholly unexpected and nicely sets up a situation I’d love to see explored in further novels.

Kelly Jensen

October 2014

(pub: Dragonwell Publishing. 256 page paperback. Price: $15.26 (US), £12.78 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-94007-615-7)

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Category: Books, Fantasy, MEDIA

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