book review, dystopian, fantasy, young adult

Book Review: Den of Shadows (Gambler’s Den #1) by Christopher Byford

34859647.jpgLet’s start with the blurb, because I should have noticed one of my own warning signs right off:

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One…

The Gambler’s Den weaves its away across the desert… But will it stop at your station?

While fighting off poverty in the blistering desert heat a travelling casino offers one night of solace. One night to forget all your troubles. But once on board there is more to the show than meets the eye: enter Franco, the elaborate ringleader, Wyld the stowaway thief and Misu the fire breathing showgirl.

In a kingdom ruled by the law Franco ensures his den remains in line, ruling with an iron first. But when he’s faced with saving the fate of the train, and those on board, he may be forced to break his own rules. Life on the den isn’t just a job but a way of life. And now you’re about to find out why!

Welcome to the den…

Perfect for fans of Caraval, Rebel of the Sands and The Night Circus.

See the last line there? A list of three books that I really like? That’s a warning sign. I’ve talked about it a few times in past posts. When a book you’ve never heard of compares itself to amazing books that you love, you must proceed with caution. Also there are a couple of typos (ruling with an iron first? not an iron fist? hmm).

So we have a train, a game, and a bunch of shady characters, winding their way through the desert. The book is very slow to begin, much like Caraval – so in a way, that comparison isn’t off, though not the way they wanted it to be I’m sure. The atmosphere and descriptions of the setting are appealing enough. But the wait for more adventure on this train ride was agonizing. The entertainers were very much like you would expect in a casino, but they were a bit wooden. I’m not sure. It just didn’t feel as fleshed out as it could have been, though it was interesting.

I think because it compares itself to such well known books, or rather, it tags itself as being something I should like, I had really high expectations. I am still interested in seeing where the next book takes the story… maybe what this one was lacking will be resolved as the plot continues. 3/5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for a review.

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