Review: Pieces of Hate by Tim Lebbon

Posted by DarkChaplain at 10/14/2016
During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel's family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next, and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost a thousand years later.

Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple's scent again. The Caribbean sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

Dead Man's Hand:

In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men... though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple.
Pieces of Hate has been on my radar since its release, but oddly I never got around to reading it. Even when I surprisingly received a review copy of A Whsiper of Southern Lights along with one I had requested, I didn't manage to get to it. But it is October now, which is the perfect time to read some horror, so this was exactly what I needed.

The Story:
"During the Dark Ages, a thing named Temple slaughtered Gabriel's family. A man with snake eyes charged him to pursue the assassin wherever he may strike next, and destroy him. Gabriel never believed he’d still be following Temple almost a thousand years later.

Because Temple may be a demon, the man with snake eyes cursed Gabriel with a life long enough to hunt him down. Now he has picked up Temple's scent again. The Caribbean sea is awash with pirate blood, and in such turmoil the outcome of any fight is far from certain.

Dead Man's Hand:

In the wilderness of the American West, the assassin is set to strike again. Despite his centuries-long curse, Gabriel is still but a man, scarred and bitter. The town of Deadwood has seen many such men... though it’s never seen anything quite like the half-demon known as Temple. "

Disclaimer
I surprisingly received a print review copy of the sequel, A Whsiper of Southern Lights, along with another one I had requested from the publisher. It's been sitting on my desk for a few months.

The Review:
Pieces of Hate, the book, actually consists of two stories: Dead Man's Hand and Pieces of Hate. The latter is a novella, the former described as a novelette and first in the series. Whereas Pieces of Hate is told in third person, Dead Man's Hand instead goes with a first person narrative, through the eyes of an innocent bystander who gets caught up into events.

For me, Dead Man's Hand worked much better. The narrative style keeps the mysteries intact and divulges just what is necessary, while the reader has to connect some dots. The point of view character and his place within his western community worked well to reinforce feelings of fear and terror but also threw in the reader's sense of curiosity and inability to stay away from the mystery unfolding around Gabriel the one-eyed stranger's search for the "demon" named Temple.
Gabriel and Temple both remain mysterious throughout, and it isn't quite clear just what is going on, why Gabriel hunts Temple exactly and what their shared history is. The distance between reader/PoV character and the hunt for vengeance added to my enjoyment.
Dead Man's Hand turned into quite a good horror mystery in my eyes, with the reader being thrown into a long-running conflict between inhuman characters, and confronted with a sense of helplessness.

With Pieces of Hate, the clock gets turned back to centuries earlier and the style switches and puts the lens right on Gabriel. We get to find out about his tragic backstory and cause for his need for vengeance, see his traumatic experiences and a few more overt displays of malice from Temple.

There are a bunch of things left unexplained in this one yet, and where I liked that in Dead Man's Hand, here it felt a bit jarring, due to how much was actually explained as it is. The man with the snake in his eye, for example, is a real mystery to me, and I wanted to find a bit more out about him, since his message to Gabriel gets repeated like a mantra here.
In contrast to the western setting of the previous story, this one goes for a pirate theme. I like that quite a lot, especially since the pirates here are shown as real cutthroats. Even knowing some of Gabriel's secrets, there are a few risks involved regardless, simply due to the relative unpredictability of the pirate crews. Somehow Lebbon managed to make some of them menacing yet also likeable.

In case it wasn't clear already: These are not nice stories. They are full of grim themes, violence, hatred and a general sense of dread. They are satisfying for all that, and while I prefered Dead Man's Hand, Pieces of Hate, taking everything into account, might be the more chilling of the two stories.
It seems like Tim Lebbon is trying to vary up the settings with this series, going from western to the age of sail, to the second World War in A Whsiper of Southern Lights. I appreciate that variety, and thought that what he brought to the table in both stories here suited the settings quite well.

With this book done, I definitely want to go deeper and read the next book, which is already lying on my nightstand (...along with a host of other reads, to be fair). Gabriel's hunt for Temple isn't over yet, and I want to see its violent conclusion for myself. Lebbon got me invested in Gabriel as a character and the horror mystery as a whole, so he's earned my readership.

Pieces of Hate on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


The Reading Lamp

0 comments:

Leave a Reply

DarkChaplain's bookshelf: read

The Dragon Engine
Tomb Raider II #7
Star Wars #22
Star Wars: The Force Awakens Adaptation #3
Deathwatch: The Last Guardian
The Harrowing
Whacky
The Awakening
Blackshield
Poe Dameron #5


DarkChaplain's favorite books »