The Land You Never Leave by Angus Watson
I loved this book. Like its predecessor, I finished the roughly 500 pages in 48 hours with the only challenge being keeping my eyes open at 3am one morning. It’s actually taken me longer to write the review than it took me to read; it’s just bloody great fantasy through and through.
Our odd family of characters – made up of the last of the Hardworkers, since renamed the Wootahs, and the fierce fighting Owlsa – are heading into the Badlands. Their goal is to deliver Ottar the Moaner to the Meadows where it’s foretold that he will be able to stop the spreading destruction and bring relative peace to the land. No one is quite sure how. The story progresses nicely and at a fantastic pace, upping the stakes of the first book with increasingly sadistic and bloodthirsty foes and moments of engagement between friend and enemy alike that carry far more weight as the group begins to behave more like a family. The depth of the relationships and the amount of them is a real strength of this book, and wonderfully they are incredibly easy to follow thanks to the skill of the writer and also, it must be said, the funny names he has given them.
Our protagonist Finn is developing as a human being. His inner thoughts reveal the doubts, wants and needs we would all have given the situation and, though the predicament they find themselves in is not quite relatable, his feelings and fears are. It’s hard not to want so much for him, feel proud when he does the right thing and slightly disappointed when he does not. In short I’m starting to feel like Finn’s dad.
The violence is on another scale. People are hung by their hands to feed the wildlife, poisoned so their body will spasm until their spine is severed, fed to various amalgamated beasts that have been reanimated from the past and on top of that a lot of this is done in an arena for the amusement of others. There is a constant threat and menace lurking around the characters at all times and it just keeps everything moving at a wicked pace and never lets the reader let their guard down. Favourites are torn from you when you least expect it and overwhelming odds can seem beatable all thanks to the brilliant writing. It’s alongside these horrors that the level of humour is most appreciated. It’s cheeky and irreverent, laugh out loud and softens some of the blows that the characters face during their journey.
The Land you Never Leave by Angus Watson is outstanding, entertaining, exciting and brutal. From out of nowhere it has rocketed up to become one of those series that I will recommend to everyone and anyone because I honestly feel that whatever you enjoy reading you will find within these pages. 10/10
(I was sent an ARC by Orbit that in no way affected my review.)