Series Review: Widdershins Adventures by Ari Marmell

Published by Pyr

Synopsis of first book:

Once she was Adrienne Satti. An orphan of Davillon, she had somehow escaped destitution and climbed to the ranks of the city’s aristocracy in a rags-to-riches story straight from an ancient fairy tale. Until one horrid night, when a conspiracy of forces–human and other–stole it all away in a flurry of blood and murder. Today she is Widdershins, a thief making her way through Davillon’s underbelly with a sharp blade, a sharper wit, and the mystical aid of Olgun, a foreign god with no other worshippers but Widdershins herself. It’s not a great life, certainly nothing compared to the one she once had, but it’s hers.

But now, in the midst of Davillon’s political turmoil, an array of hands are once again rising up against her, prepared to tear down all that she’s built. The City Guard wants her in prison. Members of her own Guild want her dead. And something horrid, something dark, something ancient is reaching out for her, a past that refuses to let her go.

Widdershins and Olgun are going to find answers, and justice, for what happened to her–but only if those who almost destroyed her in those years gone by don’t finish the job first.

  1. In case you haven’t read the synopsis, let me reiterate. Widdershins (known as Shins from hereon) nee Adrienne Satti found, due to a ritual gone wrong (Thief’s Covenant will tell you more in greater detail), a God nestled in her brain. Because she is this God’s lone worshiper, her continued existence ensures the God’s existence. Olgun, as the minor deity is known, is decidedly not part of a pantheon that includes fourteen other Gods and because of this he is more vulnerable to um nonexistence (?) than you would think Gods are.
  2. Anyway, Olgun lives in Shins’s mind and if this were a shrink’s office, this admission would have all sorts of interesting repercussions. As it isn’t, we are free to suspend our disbelief and follow Shins and Olgun on their thieving adventures. Because whatever Shins used to be in her pre-Olgun life, the moment we meet her she is most definitely a thief.
  3. One of the advantages of having a personal God are enhanced abilities such as being able to see for further distances, hear more acutely and be extremely agile. Shins puts these abilities to good use lightning the pockets of the rich of the Davillon.
  4. The books in this quartet are slim but pack emotional punches that belie their thinness. No book is more than 300 pages and yet each book is able to tell a whole story with detail and attention given to every aspect of a novel that requires it.
  5. If I was pushed, I would say that the greatest appeal of this novel is not something that can be talked about but something that needs to be experiences.
  6. First there is Shins.
  7. Shins is…well…Shins. I don’t know if you are familiar with the term ‘a 4-d person’ but it is used often in Kdramas and variety shows to describe someone whose sense of reality is slightly skewed and by slightly I mean a lot. This person thinks sideways and makes Willy Wonka look like a normal person. This is not meant to be a negative description as Shins was a force of nature, and without her being who she is, the series wouldn’t have succeeded. Let me give you an example of the kind of things you can expect from her in the narrative:

    “The resulting sound wasn’t quite a squawk, wasn’t quite a yelp, wasn’t quite a gasp. As best she could describe it, it sounded like an angry chicken slapping a puppy with a fish.”

  8. As I said, quirky.
  9. Shins and Olgun are always talking to each other and their conversation forms the bbackbone of the narrative as the books rely heavily on dialogue to build momentum and move the story on.
  10. Not that I’m complaining.
  11. How can I, when the style works so very well.
  12. But as I said the books are intense. Like your heart pounding like a herd of buffaloes have set up shop in your chest hard.
  13. Olgun doesn’t actually have a voice or speak on his own until the very end but his character is remarkably well hewed and he and Shins make up a grand team that I supported till the very end.
  14. The minor characters, too, are brilliantly created and their value to the narrative is reiterated once and again as they all bring different things to the story.
  15. Marmell has created such a rich world that Shins’s victories will seem like your own just as you will take her losses as personally as she does.
  16. There is very little romance in the novels…hints but nothing explicit and I wish there had been. I think I would have liked that but I am okay without it.
  17. The books are seriously good and I don’t know why more people haven’t read them because they deserve to be read more widely. Shins needs more people to talk at and befuddle. Befuddling is her great talent–she does it so very well.
  18. The ending made sense to. I felt that the narrative wraps up quite nicely. Obviously nothing’s tied up in nice bows but we are given a resolution and a glimpse of a possible future which though not cast in stone presents a potential future that I cannot dislike.
  19. If you want to read something quick, something intense and something chortle out loud funny, try Widdershins Adventures. Then come and talk to me about the books.
  20. That’s all folks.