Den of Shadows (Gambler’s Den #1) by Christopher Byford
Publisher: HQ Digital
Published: May 2017
Pages: 250 (Or 176 according to Goodreads)
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 chance to change your fortunes. 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. 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 once you’re in you’ll never be able to leave.
Firstly, let me thank Netgalley and the publisher for my copy in exchange for my honest review.
I feel this needs to be said. That cover is just beautiful. It is definitely one of the most gorgeous covers I’ve seen this year so far. The colour is just spectacular, it makes you think of magic, of possibilities, of adventure.
This book has been had a lot of confusing thoughts from me. I loved parts of it and never wanted it to end but then I felt it dragged on for too long on other parts. The book is beautifully written, don’t get me wrong. It’s descriptive, it gives you the backstory of characters, it gives you a sense of where they are from, why they wanted to be on The Gambler’s Den, it left nothing unanswered for me. And yet, I feel a bit puzzled by it all. There isn’t enough of it but then there’s too much of it as well.
Franco, being the main man, had the most page time. I was intrigued by his backstory, and while I wanted to know more, I wanted to see more of his present than his past. A likeable character, he was extravagant, not quite larger than life but very close to it. Flamboyant comes to mind. He made me think of a Ringmaster at a circus in a way.
I would have liked to have known more about Jacques, Misu, and Wyld. Maybe even some of the other showgirls that were mentioned. While we do get some backstory, it’s mainly the explanation of how they came to be on the Den. I feel that we missed out on a lot about them, and had too much in one go about Franco. All the characters are likeable though, and all add something to the storyline.
As I said, this book was beautifully written, with some glorious descriptive scenes. The world has a lot of possibility, especially as we are on a train! This series of books has a huge about potential, I think it can only get better with each book. And I’m very curious as to where it is going in the next. The pace of the book can only improve for me, I hope anyway. The only fast paced part of the book is near the end of the book. Other than that it sort of plods along, taking it’s time with everything. I’m hoping the next is better.
Overall, I’m giving this book 3/5. With a huge amount of potential, I can only hope that the next is bigger and better. I feel like I’m missing something from this review so it’ll probably end up getting edited at some point.