The Gutter Prayer
A group of three young thieves are pulled into a centuries old magical war between ancient beings, mages, and humanity in this wildly original debut epic fantasy.The city has always been. The city must finally end.When three thieves - an orphan, a ghoul, and a cursed man - are betrayed by the master of the thieves guild, their quest for revenge uncovers dark truths about their city and exposes a dangerous conspiracy, the seeds of which were sown long before they were born.Cari is a drifter whose past and future are darker than she can know.Rat is a Ghoul, whose people haunt the city's underworld.Spar is a Stone Man, subject to a terrible disease that is slowly petrifying his flesh.Chance has brought them together, but their friendship could be all that stands in the way of total armageddon

The Gutter Prayer Details

TitleThe Gutter Prayer
Author
LanguageEnglish
ReleaseJan 17th, 2019
PublisherOrbit
ISBN-139780356511528
Rating
GenreFantasy, Dark Fantasy, Adult, Fiction

The Gutter Prayer Review

  • Petrik
    January 1, 1970
    ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit— in exchange for an honest review.I don’t think it’s too soon for me to say that The Gutter Prayer will be the best fantasy debut of 2019.I have been anticipating this book ever since I first laid my eyes upon the gorgeous cover art by Richard Anderson. You see, I have this perception that any fantasy book with Richard Anderson’s art gracing its cover will most likely reflect that beauty with amazing content inside; once again I was proven right. In my opinion ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit— in exchange for an honest review.I don’t think it’s too soon for me to say that The Gutter Prayer will be the best fantasy debut of 2019.I have been anticipating this book ever since I first laid my eyes upon the gorgeous cover art by Richard Anderson. You see, I have this perception that any fantasy book with Richard Anderson’s art gracing its cover will most likely reflect that beauty with amazing content inside; once again I was proven right. In my opinion, Orbit is one of the best modern fantasy publishers these days. This is even more evident if we’re speaking about debuts released over the past two years, such as Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames and Age of Assassins by R.J. Barker. The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has strengthened that notion.I haven’t read a dark fantasy novel as original and riveting as The Gutter Prayer since Michael Fletcher’s Manifest Delusions. I’m serious, this is a must read for every dark fantasy enthusiast. The only other form of escapism I can think of that’s similar to this triumphant book is the critically acclaimed video game, Bloodborne. The main plot of the book revolves around a group of three young thieves as they are involuntarily caught in an ancient magical war between gods, monsters, ghouls, worm-men, Tallowmen, and sorcerers. As you can probably guess from terms like worm-man and Tallowman, this book was freaking bizarre, twisted, and insane in fantastic ways. Hanrahan’s imagination is a sacred blessing for the fantasy genre and I demand more fantasy books as original as this one. The prologue was immediately intriguing, and from there the book relentlessly elevates itself to a phenomenal level of quality by making sure every element for a great fantasy was offered within each new chapter. “Change is simultaneously a fast and a slow process. The great forces of history are slow-moving and unnoticed by those surrounded by them, visible only in hindsight where they appear inevitable.” Unpredictable and incredibly well-told story aside, the characters were fascinatingly original. The main characters, Carillon, Rat the Ghoul, and Spar the Stone Man, have a dynamic and interesting friendship going on between them. Like many great SFF authors, Hanrahan imbued life into the naming of the characters. It did take me more or less 100 pages to fully warm up to the characters, as there was a bit of a learning curve in the beginning; readers were immediately put into a chaotic situation and had to make sense of things along the way. If you find yourself a bit confused, I strongly suggest being patient. This book is superbly rewarding and totally worth finishing. Once I made it through the first 100 pages, I realized that I had become invested in both the main and side characters, and was genuinely curious about their fates; the three young thieves in particular really stole my heart.As much as I loved the characters, IF I had to choose one favorite aspect from this book I would personally choose the world-building, which is something rare for me because I usually prioritize characterizations over everything else, but this novel is a special case. I loved how efficiently, intricately, and effectively the world-building was presented. However, it was the sheer originality regarding the creation of the world in this book that completely awed me. Gods, catastrophic alchemical weaponry, divine and terrifying monstrosities, saints, humans, ghouls, and eldritch horrors filled these pages exceptionally. Plus, the rich history and lore of the city of Guerdon made the world feel fully realized and vividly constructed. The City of Guerdon was not just a simple setting, but was almost as an additional and crucial character around which every great factor of the book revolved. There’s still so much I want to talk about regarding the world-building but I really have to stop. Trust me, it will be exponentially better for you to read Hanrahan’s terrific vision without knowing anything about it, as I did. “But there are moments when things can change, when the forces balance and it’s possible for people – individual people – to make a big difference. To – realign things. Remake the world.” You don’t have to worry about the book having a weak conclusion. Satisfying and rewarding ending aside, the blasting final action scenes were an absolute masterwork that cemented the novel into 5-star territory with finesse. Both world-building and pulse-pounding action worked harmoniously to create unputdownable, cataclysmic scenes in the last 100 pages of the book. There was so much chaos going on and yet they were miraculously easy to follow. It was during this final section that I started thinking of the author as a mad genius. Hanrahan painted breathtaking scenes of Armageddon with a blazing lance that pierced through my fortress of empathy. I also felt that the voices in my reality were muted by the descending avatar of God's wrath that inflicted devastating calamity with palpable tensions. Honestly speaking, the final brutal action sequences of this book could’ve even worked as the final battle of the series itself if the author had chosen. I have no doubt that the explosive hurricane of malevolence and the conflagration of light in the city of Guerdon will give readers a wild and unforgettable experience.This was all possible because Hanrahan is an immensely gifted writer. The book was told in multi third-person perspective in the present tense and his prose absolutely didn’t feel like something produced by a debut author; it was rich in quality and extremely well-written. Seriously, most of the passages and sentences he came up with were simplistically written and yet conjured impactful, evocative, and vivid imagery. Here’s a little passage from the first page of the novel so you can get a tiny glimpse of what I’m talking about: “From here, you see the heart of the old city, its palaces and churches and towers reaching up like the hands of a man drowning, trying to break free of the warren of alley ways and hovels that surrounds them.” How awesome is that? I’ve never read any author described a skyscraper as the hands of a man drowning and I thought it conveyed a clear image and vision of what kind of book readers are getting into right from the start. If you’re experiencing fantasy fatigue because you feel like most books in the genre is starting to feel too familiar, this book shall be your ambrosia. It was perpetually earth-shattering and it provided a healthy injection of escapist euphoria when I needed a full dose.I’m going to close my review here by saying that The Gutter Prayer is mind-blowingly stellar in every respect; full of seductive creativity, marvelously intelligent, innovative, and frankly revolutionary. This dark and enchanting debut contained no shortage of alluring madness and wondrous imagination that manifests itself gloriously within the pages. Fantasy readers, be wise and buy this book, because there’s simply nothing like it. It worked incredibly well as a standalone, but anyone who’ve read it will know that THIS IS NOT THE LAST installment and I absolutely can’t wait for the sequel. With this superlative debut, Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has established himself as the newest virtuoso to enter the pantheon of fantasy greats. I envision that The Gutter Prayer will not only win many readers’ hearts but also win multiple fantasy awards in the near future. Yes, it was THAT good. Read it. Thank me later.Official release date: January 17th (UK) and 22th (US), 2019Sidenote:You can get this book more than a month early if you purchase the signed and numbered limited edition (with sprayed edges too!) from Goldsboro Books!You can pre-order the book with free shipping by clicking this link!The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions
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  • Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
    January 1, 1970
    OMG! Look at this beautiful stained edge & signed/numbered book! I'm in love !!! Omg! This book freaking rocked! I have never read anything like it!! I CAN NOT WAIT UNTIL THE NEXT BOOK!! Highly recommend! Happy Reading! Mel 🖤🐶🐺🐾BLOG
  • James Lafayette Tivendale
    January 1, 1970
    I received an uncorrected bound proof copy of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity. Hanrahan's highly anticipated fantasy debut is a real breath of fresh air. We follow three thieves who are affiliated with the underground Brotherhood. The gang's leader - Henreil - orders Carillon, Spar and Rat to steal some documentation from the House of Law. Little did the ensemble know that the master of the thieves guil I received an uncorrected bound proof copy of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity. Hanrahan's highly anticipated fantasy debut is a real breath of fresh air. We follow three thieves who are affiliated with the underground Brotherhood. The gang's leader - Henreil - orders Carillon, Spar and Rat to steal some documentation from the House of Law. Little did the ensemble know that the master of the thieves guild had other plans that evening involving this building and another group of thieves. The three thieves are betrayed, the House of Law - one of the cities finest monuments - burns to the ground, and the consequences are dire. In the aftermath, our trio decides to deal out revenge but in doing so uncover numerous conspiracies, dark truths, and learn often unwanted knowledge about the Gods of this world. Mixing that with visions, hallucinations, and out-of-body experiences that Carillion starts witnessing and Spar's need for a drug Alkahest as he is slowly petrifying since being diagnosed with the stone plague equals an exciting and ambitious prospect from the very start. At approximately 510 pages Hanrahan composes a unique, stimulating and three-dimension hauntingly dark fantasy world. The Gutter Prayer is low fantasy at it's finest. I'm not sure if it was the author's intention yet I read this as if it was set in a Victorian-inspired city where all of the action takes place. The complex, labyrinthine city of Guerdon includes trains, canals, main roads, thieves passages, underground warrens, a university town and many houses of religion. In a fantasy world where grimdark seems to be the most popular sub-genre at the moment, I can confirm that fans of the said genre will find a great amount to enjoy here. That being said, it doesn't fit exactly under that specification. For however dark, extreme and violent sections may be, The Gutter Prayer also oozes an aura of heart and hope mainly led by the three intriguing and intricately developed but likable main characters. Cari is a thief who is the daughter of a wealthy family and has started having unspeakably strange visions when bells ring. Rat is a Ghoul, that is like a concoction of a human and a wolf and finally, Spar is the son of the former master of the thieves guild who is infected by the stone-plague. The team have an amazing comradeship and really care for each other and that is present throughout the whole narrative.I adore fantasy stories that flaunt originality, especially when the author creates new creatures, races, and Gods that have not been featured in other books beforehand. Like Malazan where Erikson created Tiste Andii, K'Chain Che'Malle amongst others - here we have Tallowmen, Gullheads, Ravellers, and Saints. Three of these creatures are utterly terrifying and you wouldn't want to cross their paths in the small damp alleyways of Guerdon at nighttime. One of my favourite aspect of The Gutter Prayer was the way that Cari's out-of-body experiences and visions were written. Unfortunately, in the past, I've suffered from mental health, hallucinations, visions, and out-of-body experience and Cari's experiences rang completely true and where presented brilliantly. I had a personal connection with these segments and it was like reading about someone who has felt the same sort of emotions I had previously. Her suffering, confusion but also the way her eyes are opened to hidden details about the city and its inhabitants were really eye-opening and enlightening. It took me about one-hundred-pages to get completely engrossed in this novel but at that point when events start to get a bit more complex I was engrossed and couldn't put the book down. The last one-hundred-and-fifty-page were so thrilling that my brain had to work expertly hard to keep up with the pace that my eyes were making it read the words! The Gutter Prayer features a skilfully crafted world, with masterful drama, expert dialogue, brilliant characters, and an ending I did not see coming. Debut release of 2019? Perhaps. A book that every fantasy fans should read? Absolutely.
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  • Bookdragon Sean
    January 1, 1970
    With his imaginative characters, creative plot and twisted creatures, Hanrahan proves that fantasy can still be original. This is an exceedingly exciting adventure of thievery and treachery. It’s immediate and gripping. It doesn’t mess around and quickly launched me into an extraordinary new fantasy world. Hanrahan is an exceptionally talented writer, and I do not hesitate to say that this book will receive heaps of claim from readers and critics alike. It truly deserves it. The story begins w With his imaginative characters, creative plot and twisted creatures, Hanrahan proves that fantasy can still be original. This is an exceedingly exciting adventure of thievery and treachery. It’s immediate and gripping. It doesn’t mess around and quickly launched me into an extraordinary new fantasy world. Hanrahan is an exceptionally talented writer, and I do not hesitate to say that this book will receive heaps of claim from readers and critics alike. It truly deserves it. The story begins with an explosion, an explosion that ruins the heist the three protagonists, Cari, Spar and Rat were undertaking. They have no idea what has happened or why it has happened. They have been set up as the world descends into fire and chaotic madness. They have been left for dead and without any answers. It’s a sign of things to come, of the powerlessness they posses in a game where they are only considered as mere pawns. The plot only becomes darker as the world becomes richer and more vivid. There are secrets to be unearthed in the dark streets of Guerdon, and I was surprised on several occasions with the direction this took. I don’t want to give anything away but let me say that this book contains some of coolest creatures I have read about in years. The Tallowmen are wax contructs made to resemble men and created by mages to carry out their bidding. And they are quite terrifying. They are such a great idea. Fantasy novels that depict new and interesting creatures, that are completely original, are always worthy of attention. Just think about it, how many original fantasy monsters are still being created? Not many, at times it all feels like the same regurgitated versions of the same thing. So, I was delighted to read about new and interesting monsters that were accompanied by such successful and strong world building. This world is loaded with history, and it’s slowly revealed as the characters navigate its dark depths. It ticks all the boxes as the characters are also complicated and interesting individuals. Spar is plagued by a disease that will end in his ultimate demise as he slowly turns into stone, Rat is a ghoul that feeds off dead human flesh and Cari has a secret past that threatens to topple everything she is. And the dynamic between the three is electric. Hanrahan is a strong new voice in fantasy, one that will resonate very loudly with fans of Scott Lynch. Both writers have a keen eye for detail when conjuring up their respective worlds, and they both know how to create complex plots that go in unexpected directions. They both write about thieves and cut-throats in a grimdark fantasy setting, so if you like The Lies of Locke Lamora then The Gutter prayer is certainly the book for you. I recommend it wholeheartedly. There are simply not enough books that focus on thieves in fantasy, and this helps to fill the gap tremendously - A very strong 9/10 This book was sent to me in exchange for an honest review, thank you Orbit!Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Insta | Academia
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  • شيماء ✨
    January 1, 1970
    If Leonardo DiCaprio can wait 23 years for his Oscar then I sure as hell can wait a few more weeks for this book BUT I NEED IT
  • Esmerelda Weatherwax
    January 1, 1970
    This book wasn’t initially on my radar, but the people over at Fantasy Inn really enjoyed it and talked about it a lot. Then I saw some other friends with similar taste start to rave about this book over on Goodreads so I decided to give it a go.I was very taken aback by the use of second-person narration in the prologue, I don’t typically click with that writing style, but strangely enough, I was sad when it ended. After just a few paragraphs, I had sunk into the prose and didn’t want it to end This book wasn’t initially on my radar, but the people over at Fantasy Inn really enjoyed it and talked about it a lot. Then I saw some other friends with similar taste start to rave about this book over on Goodreads so I decided to give it a go.I was very taken aback by the use of second-person narration in the prologue, I don’t typically click with that writing style, but strangely enough, I was sad when it ended. After just a few paragraphs, I had sunk into the prose and didn’t want it to end, I was blown away right from the beginning by the imagination used in this book. This was the first of many “exceptions” this book had in store for me, this broke all of the rules I have for my own taste – or thought I had, anyway.This starts out with a robbery gone wrong, three thieves are tasked by their leader to bring something out of a vault in the Tower of Law. They make their way through the building checking every room looking for something that they can’t find. By no fault of their own, something in the building explodes, spreading alchemical fire throughout the tower which eventually brings it down. All of the noise and commotion alerts the guards, both of the Tallowman and human variety. The three thieves are chased down through the city, one, the ghoul named Rat gets away. The other two of the thieves, Cari and Spar, get arrested and are hauled off to a flooded prison located on an island.Cari is a young girl who’s run away from home and become a thief, she’s quick and light on her feet which is handy for her trade. After being put in prison Cari is bailed out by a professor, Ongent, an archeologist and historian at the University. It’s not said at first why he did this, but he clearly had a purpose and intent. Cari has been having dreams lately that aren’t just dreams. While asleep she mumbled her way through the origins of the ghoul race in some kind of trance. She’s had a vision of a young priest who was melted away by some unknown force, a being that disguised itself as a woman interested in him only to ambush and kill him once she got him alone. Ongent doesn’t know what to make of it yet, but Cari is clearly special. She also has bravery about her and not just the ‘fighting’ kind of bravery, she lives with the Stone Man thief which most people wouldn’t do even if it was a family member. Stone Men suffer from a plague that started about 30 years ago turning their bodies into statues and acting as a slow death sentence. People afflicted with the disease have to keep moving or their bodies will calcify more quickly, in this world a good night’s sleep could result in you waking up paralyzed and near death.Rat is a young ghoul, and as such he lives mostly underground in the dark damp caves and tunnels that number in the thousands below the city. He thinks of his kind as the true inhabitants of the city, with the people on top being like “flies” skittering only on the surface. His race is an ancient one that has three distinct life phases. Young ghouls can pass for human in low light, despite the fact they have hooves they are relatively human shaped and can communicate, they can also tolerate sunlight for short periods of time and are able to control their more basal instincts. Middle-aged ghouls tend are mostly feral, communicating only in howls and screams, living in swarms deep below the earth. Then there are the Elders, ancient beings of unimaginable power that hijack the bodies of others to speak for them. (Independence day shit). When rat was being chased by a Tallowman through the city he made it into his caves, where he ran into a woman named Aleena. She works for the Church of the Keepers on the surface and the Church has maintained a tenuous agreement between themselves and the ghouls for thousands of years. Something has brought her down to the depths searching for the Elders, something urgent. It takes hours to get down through the dark with tunnels made of the deepest blacks, so black that even Rat is unnerved. When they reach the Elders there’s an exchange with Aleena that Rat didn’t fully understand, however, he does know that the Elders are scared, what horrors could possibly scare the Elders? Who are these Ravellers that are supposed to be kept at bay? And could it have anything to do with Cari’s visions of a man unraveling before her eyes?The characters stood out to me right away, which was exception number two this book threw at me. I usually take a while to warm up to characters, and since I know that I don’t let it bother me if I’m not connecting right at the beginning. I’m only irked if I don’t get to know them well enough before I switch POV’s, preferring to sink my teeth into a character before it switches. Again, this book makes an exception. I loved switching from character to character even right at the beginning. They were all so unique with clear, distinct voices and personalities that it was easy to go back and forth while enjoying myself every time the character changed. I loved the side characters as well, which is a huge plus. When side characters feel bland or boring it makes the world a little less polished and real. Aleena was fucking fantastic, I don’t think anyone who knows me would be surprised by my love for this character. Sassy older woman that curses like a sailor? Just, yes. Take all of my yes.I’m a big fan of originality, (hence why it gets its own category in my scoring system) and since I read about 200 books a year when I hit something I haven’t seen done before I can’t help but get extra excited. Typically when I call a book unique I’m referring to something like a new magic system, a trope turned on its head, a new aspect of world building I hadn’t seen before, or maybe a particularly unusual POV. In this book I’m referring to all of the above, every aspect of this book was something new and different. The ‘monsters’ are original – my two favorites in this one are the Tallowmen, men made of wax and burning from within, they make for extremely surreal foes and we even get to see inside one of their heads as a POV for a short time. I loved it. There are also things known as the Crawling Ones, a huge group of worms that’s sentient and feeds on the dead, except when they eat the dead they also steal their memories, knowledge, and souls.The writing in this was great, it flowed very nicely for me and kept me turning pages. I would say this is much more stylized than what I typically read, however, I absolutely adored it. Kind of like Bancroft, I just love the way this was done and thought it was gorgeous. The world building is absolutely incredible and worked hand in hand with the characters for me. Sometimes when I get hit in the head with too much world building and don’t get to know the characters enough I lose interest. This had a great deal of world building that helped you understand the characters so it was an even flow of new info but also character development.I am so stoked I’m ending my year on a string of amazing books. I can’t recommend this one highly enough to those that like darker fantasy in an entirely unique world. This was like falling for fantasy all over again.Audience:multi povnon human povoriginal monsters/racesdarker fantasyfemale povstylized prosegenre mashupsRatings:Plot: 14/15Characters: 14/15World Building: 15/15Writing: 14/15Pacing: 13/15Originality: 15/15Personal Enjoyment: 10/10Final Score: 95/100 – 5 Stars, second highest rating of the year that’s not Pratchett.
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  • Mogsy (MMOGC)
    January 1, 1970
    4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/01/14/...The Gutter Prayer is a novel that got a lot of pre-publication attention; even half a year before it was due to come out, I was already hearing readers sing its praises. This was THE fantasy novel all fans should be checking out in 2019, apparently—especially if your predilections run towards grimdark.So I read it. And now I understand where all the love is coming from.Our story, for the most part, is centered on the lives 4 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum https://bibliosanctum.com/2019/01/14/...The Gutter Prayer is a novel that got a lot of pre-publication attention; even half a year before it was due to come out, I was already hearing readers sing its praises. This was THE fantasy novel all fans should be checking out in 2019, apparently—especially if your predilections run towards grimdark.So I read it. And now I understand where all the love is coming from.Our story, for the most part, is centered on the lives of three thieves. Cari, Spar and Rat have not known each other for long, but by the time they were called upon to work together in a secret plot hatched up by Heinreil, the city of Guerdon’s most notorious crime boss, the three of them were already…well, as thick as thieves. Spar is the son of a late gang leader, but he is also a Stone Man—the term given to someone afflicted with a degenerative disease which slowly petrifies the body and its organs, turning them hard as rock. Rat is a Ghoul, a member of a race of underground people who live in the old tunnels and crypts of the city, subsisting on the flesh of the dead. And Cari is an orphan and a drifter who feels like she owes a lot to her other two companions, who took her into their gang even though she arrived with nothing to her name.Their job together was supposed to be quick and simple: a smash-and-grab at the city’s House of Law, where the three of them were tasked to steal an important document. But little did they know, Heinreil had other plans, and their little group was only meant to be a distraction. The night ends in disaster, with a great fire that levels a good chunk of Guerdon and claims lives. And Cari, who was injured and knocked out in the commotion, wakes up in a thieftaker’s prison with a new power in her head.The Gutter Prayer, in many ways, is the perfect marriage of grimdark and epic fantasy. Here you will find the grittiness and cynicism one might expect from a Joe Abercrombie or Scott Lynch novel, but also the kind of unique and imaginative world-building that wouldn’t feel out of place in a Brandon Sanderson story. Clearly Gareth Hanrahan’s experience as a game designer and RPG writer has also served him well in writing his debut, for many of the ideas in here—particularly those related to creatures and theistic myths—reminded me a lot of elements from fantasy tabletop campaigns.The world of this novel is, in a word, incredible. While most of the story is confined to Guerdon, the narrative never lets you forget that this little corner of the universe is just one piece of a greater puzzle, so not once does the setting ever feel small. The place is rich with history, its culture influenced by the diversity of its peoples and religions. The city becomes a character in its own right; from the dank gutters to the well-kept university district, every little slice of Guerdon we get to see is another side of its personality. The best sights, however, lie in its underbelly. There you find the Ghouls, hiding in the shadows. The Stone Men, who are feared and shunned. The Tallowmen, menacing wax golems that are magically bound to serve as the city’s enforcers. The Crawling Ones, digusting monstrosities made up of a wriggling mass of sentient worms. And if you’re really unlucky, you might even run afoul of a Raveller, a shapeshifting predator aligned with the Black Iron Gods.In the face of all this originality, the characters are almost overshadowed. The perspectives of Cari, Spar, and Rat are compelling enough, but in a way, I also felt that their development took a backseat to the world-building. As protagonists, they didn’t inspire much attachment, and individually, their voices did not really stand out. In fact, I thought Hanrahan did better with his supporting characters in this regard, exploring strong personalities like Jere, Eladora, or Professor Ongent. More than once I wished a couple of these characters had gotten more attention or a bigger role. The Gutter Prayer being a debut, it also exhibits a few signs of what I feel are common new author mistakes. One is the compulsion to throw in unnecessary flourishes like random narrative shifts when it might have been better just to keep things simple.However, the criticisms I have are minor. Ideally, I would have preferred a bit more balance between story, characters, and world-building, where one aspect isn’t disproportionately overrepresented to eclipse the others, which was partly the issue here. But overall, The Gutter Prayer was an impressive debut, one that is certain to make a lot of dark fantasy fans ecstatic. Boldly ambitious and innovative in equal measure, Hanrahan’s daring entry into the genre is guaranteed to captivate and enthrall.
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  • TS Chan
    January 1, 1970
    This is an ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars.A truly extraordinary debut, The Gutter Prayer strikes an intense chord with its powerful worldbuilding, vivid imagery and evocative prose. Two things about this book caught my attention. Firstly, the blurb which indicated that the main characters comprise three thieves (I have such a weakness for stories with thieves). And then, my coblogger's review which raved about the dark worldbuilding. Alright! I' This is an ARC provided by the publisher, Orbit, in exchange for an honest review. 4.5 stars.A truly extraordinary debut, The Gutter Prayer strikes an intense chord with its powerful worldbuilding, vivid imagery and evocative prose. Two things about this book caught my attention. Firstly, the blurb which indicated that the main characters comprise three thieves (I have such a weakness for stories with thieves). And then, my coblogger's review which raved about the dark worldbuilding. Alright! I'll admit that the gorgeous cover also played some part in this.It has been quite a while since I've read fantasy which employed such dark elements reminiscent of horror stories. I'll just give you these three terms - Tallowmen, Raveller and Crawling Ones. You might form an idea what these might be, but I can tell you for a fact that they are much worse than what they sound like. A world where divine powers and alchemical advancement co-exist on an uneasy balance, the history behind the creations and eldritch horrors is dark, twisted and perversely captivating. My advice to readers is to avoid reading this book while you're eating. The main characters themselves are also... uncommon. Rat is a ghoul, a carrion-eating race and the original inhabitants of the city. The deep layers of history, bloodier and darker than one can possibly imagine, pushed these transformed people and their dwelling into the depths of the city. Spar is a Stone Man, cursed by an incurable plague, which slowly calcifies all living tissue until it kills. Cari has a mysterious past - a legacy - which may spell the doom of the city. As far as I am concerned, the star of the story is the city of Guerdon itself. Hanharan wrote the city like it is a living, breathing organism that has seen generations of the good, the bad and the ugly. To describe the writing as immersive, vivid and evocative is like saying that sugar is sweet. Guerdon is a scary place to live in, and the author made sure that I feel so through every alleyway, street corner, tunnel, stairway and tower. There's a sick energy in the air, the sour adrenaline running through the streets. The city's sleep has been disturbed; like some giant animal with stone sinews and nerves made of living people, Guerdon paces back and forth, testing the limits of its cage. While the narrative can be considered to be fast-paced, the plot itself took some time to materialise cohesively. The story, written in present tense third person, is told from the perspectives of the main characters, who are pulled in myriad directions (and misdirections) following a disastrous thieving attempt at the start of the book. The mystery behind the disaster was so obfuscated that I simply had no clue what was happening until almost midway into the book. In fact, I was initially a bit concerned. In spite of the stupendous worldbuilding, I did not find myself eager to get back to reading the book after putting it down. I chalk this down to the characterisation which I found less compelling than the rest of the story. Don't get me wrong, the characters are not badly written at all. They could have been overshadowed by the worldbuilding and the drawing out of the plot. I just didn't care for them as much as what crazy thing is going to happen next. Notwithstanding, the intensity really took off in the second half of the book. When the building blocks of the subplots finally came together, the pace became relentless and the narrative more engrossing. As the truths were revealed, events escalated from catastrophic to apocalyptic. I will describe the climactic sequence simply as breathtaking. Whatever prior reservations I had about this novel was alleviated by its denouement. I needed emotional resonance for a read to be amazing for me, and that was what I found lacking for a large part of this book. That is, until the final chapters and that poignant ending which was superbly satisfying. Lastly, I have to commend the author for his writing skills. There are flashes of brilliance in his prose and occasional mitigated streams of consciousness (the Irish influence perhaps) from the characters' POVs. Altogether Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan has developed a unique voice with his unconventional style and created something extraordinary in the realm of modern dark fantasy. The official release date is Jan 17th in the UK and Jan 22nd in the US. You can order this book from: Amazon UK | Book Depository (Free shipping) You can also find this and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
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  • Petros Triantafyllou
    January 1, 1970
    It usually takes me two to three days to finish an average-sized book. The Gutter Prayer took me two weeks. Now you may think that I struggled to finish it, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I tried to savor it for as long as I could, because although this is just my first read for 2019 and we're only in January, I'm confident that I won't find a greater book this year.Ghouls who feed on rotting flesh. People who slowly turn to stone, becoming living statues with incredible strength b It usually takes me two to three days to finish an average-sized book. The Gutter Prayer took me two weeks. Now you may think that I struggled to finish it, but that couldn't be further from the truth. I tried to savor it for as long as I could, because although this is just my first read for 2019 and we're only in January, I'm confident that I won't find a greater book this year.Ghouls who feed on rotting flesh. People who slowly turn to stone, becoming living statues with incredible strength before they petrify completely. Minions made of wax, burning like living candles, capable of inhuman feats. Ethereal creatures that can absorb both body and soul. Beings made out of living worms, commanding powers so terrible that could melt the flesh from your bones. Immortal Gods who can alter reality. Take a stroll around Guerdon and chances are you'll stubble across half of those creatures at the same night. "Change is simultaneously a fast and a slow process. The great forces of history are slow-moving and unnoticed by those surrounded by them, visible only in hindsight where they appear inevitable." Grimdark is a loose term. A lot of people have tried to define this relatively new sub-genre of speculative fiction, but opinions vary. What makes a work grimdark? Does it have to be nihilistic, immoral or violent? Should the protagonist be an anti-hero or even a straight up villain? Does the world portrayed have to be a cynical, disillusioned or dystopian place? Should it all be grey and not at all black or white? Should there be no hope? Ask ten people and you'll get ten different answers. And yet, if you ask those same people what they think about Prince of Thorns, The Darkness that Comes Before, or Beyond Redemption, you'll get one answer. Grimdark. They may not agree as to why, each one of them may list a different reason, but in the end all of them will agree that it's Grimdark. They'll just know. Because Grimdark isn't something that you can define. Grimdark is something you feel. Now if you go around and ask those few people who've read The Gutter Prayer, or if you're patient enough to wait a few years before asking thousands of people the same question, chances are you'll get the exact same answer. Grimdark. Pure, unadulterated Grimdark. What makes The Gutter Prayer so special though isn't that it's Grimdark. It's that it's weird. And I mean weird in every kind of sense. The narrative is unorthodox. The plot is bizarre and grotesque. The characters are eccentric and the world is peculiar and borderline absurd. I uttered "whaaaaaaat", "oh come on!" and "what the actual fuck did I just read..." more times than I can count, and yet... And yet, when I finished I knew that everything was exactly as it should be. This was a crazy ride, the craziest one I've been in a while, and I wouldn't change it for the world. The only thing I could possibly ask for is "more". The Gutter Prayer is, undoubtedly, the debut of the year, and I won't be surprised to see it sweeping every award next year.
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  • Emma
    January 1, 1970
    You know things aren’t going to plan when you’re in the middle of a robbery and the building blows up around you, alchemical fire turning what was already a pretty difficult job into complete chaos, threatening a fiery death, and possibly getting you nicked to boot. If that was part of the game plan, nobody told Cari, Spar, or Rat. It’s almost like no-one cared whether they lived or died. Or if they got caught… Yet the man who sent them isn’t the kind of whom you ask hard questions, unless you w You know things aren’t going to plan when you’re in the middle of a robbery and the building blows up around you, alchemical fire turning what was already a pretty difficult job into complete chaos, threatening a fiery death, and possibly getting you nicked to boot. If that was part of the game plan, nobody told Cari, Spar, or Rat. It’s almost like no-one cared whether they lived or died. Or if they got caught… Yet the man who sent them isn’t the kind of whom you ask hard questions, unless you want blade-sharp answers. That or worse, an unfriendly visit from the Fever Knight. But now they’re being sought by all kinds of interested parties, from the Brotherhood to the Watch, from hidden gods to mythical monsters, and they’re running low on people to trust. They’ve been pitched into the middle of an ongoing battle with no idea of the rules, or even who’s playing, and they desperately need to find out what’s going on. With THIS IS NOT THE LAST chillingly painted at the scene of the explosion, it seems like there’s way more destruction to come - and these three stand right at its heart, whether they like it or not. Their choices are going to change the world, so they better be good ones… To say this book is imaginative is to undersell it, the author’s inventiveness is showcased on every page, from the ghoul inhabited depths below the city to the dirty streets and dirtier politics of the streets above. It’s a thoroughly lived in place, each new generation of occupation layered on the remains of the past, creating a stratified history and material culture that’s only partly visible. Guerdon has the feel of an old, old city, the kind that’s as much a character as those who live there. Its secrets sit just out of sight, snapping into focus only when you look deeper. It works as much for the plot and the characters as it does for the worldbuilding. The expected path is rarely taken and it brings some thrilling challenges for the reader. So you’re putting a ghoul who eats rotting human flesh as a main character? Interesting… I like where this is going. Nobody is who you expect them to be, flawed at the very least, and often much worse than that. There’s a seedy immorality to it all, superbly contrasted by the bonds of friendship between the main three. Their willingness to fight for each other is what keeps this from being as grim as it might seem at first glance, in their relationship is enough hope and trust and faithfulness to counter the dark.Even so, the writing sometimes had a jerkiness, an indecisiveness, a fumbling in the movement from scene to scene that nullified the overall impact. In flicking from one to the next, sometimes repeating the same moment from another character angle, going for the quick shock and terse explanation, any emotional effect was lost. People died at the end, but they did so almost by the wayside, an ooops-they’re-gone shrug of the shoulders and it’s the End. Perhaps this reflected the fleeting nature of human experience when measured against the weighty, layered past of the city itself, but it fed into my general lack of feeling for anyone involved. I just didn’t really care who was going to come though it and when some of them didn’t, I barely noticed. I had to go back and reread a few bits because I was wondering about people who were already dead. In all honesty, I was skimming by this point, the prioritisation of action over feeling (and maybe over cohesion too) meant I’d lost my connection to the story. For all the imagination and creativity on display here, I already know I won’t be rereading the book. These are not characters to love and come back to. They’re interesting but distant. Nevertheless, this does nothing to undermine my admiration of the author’s talent in creating something original. Definitely one to try for yourself.ARC via Netgalley
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  • Lukasz
    January 1, 1970
    How do I even describe it? Was it just insane or insanely good? Enter Guerdon. Mad deities and divinely powered saints fight, Lovecraftian horrors awake and crawl out from below. Shape-shifting Ravellers, servants of the ancient and evil Black Iron Gods, bring mayhem to the streets for the first time in decades and it can only mean one thing - Doomsday approaches. Meanwhile, a new member of the Thieves’ Brotherhood, Carillon Thay, experiences unnerving visions that place her in the centre of the How do I even describe it? Was it just insane or insanely good? Enter Guerdon. Mad deities and divinely powered saints fight, Lovecraftian horrors awake and crawl out from below. Shape-shifting Ravellers, servants of the ancient and evil Black Iron Gods, bring mayhem to the streets for the first time in decades and it can only mean one thing - Doomsday approaches. Meanwhile, a new member of the Thieves’ Brotherhood, Carillon Thay, experiences unnerving visions that place her in the centre of the conflict between mad deities. She navigates the city in the company of Rat, a corpse-eating ghoul, and Spar, a Stoneman, whose flesh is slowly calcifying into rock. Rules mean nothing to Hanrahan - he plays with the language, world-building, and usual genre’s tropes. He twists them and offers something fresh and new. Examples? Gutter Prayer opens with a prologue written in the second person pro-noun, a thing considered a huge no-no. And yet, it works. Hanrahan’s lyrical prose contains a lot of archaisms and rare words, it yells for a reader's attention and yet it only makes the experience more immersive. His visual and visceral style blew my mind. I usually dislike detailed world-building, but his world, with all its minutiae, immersed me.A note to aspiring writers - don’t read this book; it‘ll make you loathe your unimaginative, bland phrases. The setting lives from the very first pages. It feels real, and dynamic. It changes and affects the characters in the story. It‘s a prime example of a powerfully portrayed city that seems to have a life of its own. I sincerely hope I’ll never visit Guerdom, though. I still have a long TBR list and things to do in life and I wouldn’t last five minutes there. Check this description of one of the city’s hidden places (it gives a good example of the setting and Hanrahan’s prose): Pipes hiss and gurgle like the intestines of a flayed man. The air is hot and thick with fumes. Through portholes lined with green-tinted glass, she can spy on the things growing inside the vats - embryonic Gullheads, raptequines, disembodied organs. A thing that might be the heart and circulatory system of a man swims past one viewport, like a ghastly jellyfish that squirts blood with every spasm of its artery limbs. All characters feel realised and three dimensional. Carillon is impulsive, and she acts too fast regularly getting into trouble. Her emotionally charged chapters contrast slightly with other POV’s. although each POV character faces traumatic situations. Take Spar, a Stoneman. He’s dying. His disease will win in the end - there’s no cure. He’ll turn into a stone, but not before he experiences all his joints and organs calcify slowly and painfully. Then we have Rat - a young ghoul who experiences extreme, nauseating transformation. Secondary characters shine as well. A lovely mentor who’s secretly a manipulative monster, a teleporting boy with insane speed and agility, tallowmen whose minds are a flickering candle flames, burning within the waxy hollow of their skulls captured my imagination. That said, the character I liked most was Aleena - a brutally honest saint who swears like a trooper in an angelic voice (literally - angels speak through her). Hanrahan’s saints don’t remind our saints. They’re deeply traumatised embodiments of divine madness. I’m sure people will speak about Gutter Prayer in years to come. I suspect it’ll divide the audience a bit. A casual fantasy reader may feel lost in the plot for a significant part of the book. Hanrahan’s distinct, rich writing style won’t appeal to everyone. But it did work for me. A brilliant, imaginative debut. Absolutely worth the read and insanely good.ARC through NetGalley
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  • Michael Fletcher
    January 1, 1970
    From carrion gods to alchemical warfare, this is genre-defying fantasy at its very best. An absolutely stunning debut. Insanely inventive and deeply twisted. I loved it! Highly recommended.
  • Hiu Gregg
    January 1, 1970
    I like a lot of the books I read, but The Gutter Prayer is one of the few that I can say I actually loved.It’s almost hard to put it into words. I want to rant, I want to squee, and I want to just spew out superlatives until you go ahead and pre-order the damned thing just to shut me the hell up. I’ve tried to describe to my friends just how great it is, and I feel like I owe them an apology for some of the manic nonsense that they had to listen to. This book is so good that it reduced me to a b I like a lot of the books I read, but The Gutter Prayer is one of the few that I can say I actually loved.It’s almost hard to put it into words. I want to rant, I want to squee, and I want to just spew out superlatives until you go ahead and pre-order the damned thing just to shut me the hell up. I’ve tried to describe to my friends just how great it is, and I feel like I owe them an apology for some of the manic nonsense that they had to listen to. This book is so good that it reduced me to a blithering, complimentary mess. I was enjoying myself from literally the first page — the prologue is truly incredible — and honestly the most accurate metaphor I can think of to describe the reading experience is that it was like a really really good night out with good friends and better alcohol. In other words, I enjoyed myself for the duration, but spent half the time worrying about the hangover that would come after.The Gutter Prayer is a crazy, high-concept epic fantasy with an emphasis on the “crazy”. There’s alchemy, ghouls, stone men, saints with god-like powers, creepy candle-wax golems, and creepier sorcerers made from writhing masses of worms. There’s so many more aspects of this world (So. Many) that I could gush about, but it’s really the kind of thing that’s best read with as few preconceptions as possible. Just know that the worldbuilding is truly incredible. It’s like… well, it’s like nothing else I’ve ever read before. Perhaps it’s like a more stylised, serious, and contained version of Nicholas Eames’ Kings of the Wyld, but that comparison doesn’t do justice to either book. The Gutter Prayer is entirely its own thing, and it’s brilliant for it.Coming back to that “stylised” comment —I refuse to believe that this is a debut novel. It is far too well written. In fact, at one point I put the book down mid-paragraph (okay, I exaggerate, I read until the end of the chapter and even then it was hard to tear my eyes away) to check the author’s credentials. Turns out that Gareth Hanrahan has been writing for role-playing games for a number of years, but that The Gutter Prayer is indeed his debut novel. Well. If he’s this good out of the gate, then he’s earned himself a fan for life.Character-wise, there’s a lot to like about the Gutter Prayer. The three thieves mentioned in the blurb are our “main” point-of-view characters, but we also get a few chapters from other perspectives. The character exploration isn’t the slow and deep introspective kind, but more the kind that rolls with the story. You start off knowing next to nothing about the characters and the world, but you learn through context and drip-fed details as you read on. There’s a sizeable cast of personalities here, and it’s a mark of a multi-point-of-view fantasy done well that I didn’t mind when the perspective changed. All of the characters were interesting, all of them engaging. In that sense and others, this book was a unicorn in my eyes.In terms of the story… yeah, I’m not telling you anything. Trust me when I say that it’s a book best read with as little pre-existing knowledge as possible. What I will say is that this is remarkably well contained for what is apparently book 1 in a series. If you want to read this as a standalone, then you wouldn’t be disappointed. The Gutter Prayer is already one of my favourite books from 2019. It’s original, incredibly well-written, and honestly just so much fun to read.This is for anyone who likes crazy worlds, colourful and roguish characters, and exciting action sequences. It’s the battlecry of an exciting new author who I feel has the potential to hit the very top of the genre. Put simply, you need to read this.
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  • Anna Stephens
    January 1, 1970
    This book is bonkers from start to finish. Monsters, magic, thieves, alchemists, saints and gods rub shoulders and pick pockets in the city of Guerdon while across the sea the Godswar rages on, saints and avatars and alchemical bombs making a wasteland of the paradise the gods created for their followers and now destroy. A ghoul, a man suffering from the Stone Plague and a young woman team up to rob a building and inadvertently get dragged into a plot to bring back some very nasty gods. None of This book is bonkers from start to finish. Monsters, magic, thieves, alchemists, saints and gods rub shoulders and pick pockets in the city of Guerdon while across the sea the Godswar rages on, saints and avatars and alchemical bombs making a wasteland of the paradise the gods created for their followers and now destroy. A ghoul, a man suffering from the Stone Plague and a young woman team up to rob a building and inadvertently get dragged into a plot to bring back some very nasty gods. None of them are exactly what they seem as they stumble unknowingly from one disaster to the next in a bid to prevent the return of the gods and to wrest control of the Brotherhood of Thieves from the vicious master, Heinreil.This has lashings of black humour and some truly disgusting monsters and morals. If you like your fantasy turned up to 11 and stuffed with every weird thing you can think of - and a lot more you can't - then this is the Lovecraftian, eldritch book of the damned for you.
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  • Eon ♒Windrunner♒
    January 1, 1970
    I received an ARC of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity.The Gutter Prayer is something very rare. It is a fantasy book treading new ground, forging its own path.From the first page, the writing lets you know that this is something very different. Not only is the narration very unusual (don’t even ask me what this narrative voice is called), Hanrahan’s voice is so unique, it is truly hard to believe that th I received an ARC of The Gutter Prayer in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Gareth Hanrahan and Orbit Books for the opportunity.The Gutter Prayer is something very rare. It is a fantasy book treading new ground, forging its own path.From the first page, the writing lets you know that this is something very different. Not only is the narration very unusual (don’t even ask me what this narrative voice is called), Hanrahan’s voice is so unique, it is truly hard to believe that this is a debut effort. Unpublished writers beware! Judging by the talent on display here, every aspiring writer should up their game.The main plot has us following three thieves with a mission, only for everything to go spectacularly wrong. What starts out as a simple little heist quickly unravels, and I mean very quickly, into a rabbit warren of mystery, magic, dark secrets and horrific truths. I will not even begin to try and explain the plot further than that, as it is dark delight best left unspoiled.This is a world conjured up by some mad genius in possession of mind boggling creativity. Layer upon layer of rich, detailed elements, fascinating history, vivid imagery and unique characters cements this as an original world that I absolutely, unequivocally, emphatically, would never want to live in. It is scary as hell. The creativity on display here would warrant a read of this book all by itself, if not for the masterful crescendo of tension weaved into the story, making for a real page turner and culminating in a unputdownable finale.Gareth Hanrahan topples your expectations and perceptions like dominoes, page by page, until you are left with nothing but pure, unadulterated awe.All right then. High praise aside, I did have an issue with the book that killed any chance it had of becoming a favourite of mine.The truth is, I did not care for the characters much. They were well written, and interesting, but somewhere along the lines, the magic that writers do to make you feel for the characters just did not happen for me. There were one or two instances where I started to get the barest inkling that I was starting to care for a character when they were summarily killed off. Maybe that was part of the problem. Main characters met sudden deaths and were gone from the story just like that. Or maybe it was just a timing thing on my part. Gone before I could care and those still present were not as much to my liking. It is a small thing, but it can have a huge influence. I still liked reading about what they were up to, but just did not care about them like I should have. It says a lot though that I still rate this as highly. Either way, I suspect that this won’t be a problem for the majority of readers, so once again it’s more a case of it’s me, not you. 🙂To finish off with I need to reiterate. This is a very special book my friends. The Gutter Prayer is an absolutely phenomenal debut and with this first attempt Gareth Hanrahan has proven himself exceptionally talented. If the authors mantelpiece (I hope you have one Mr Hanrahan) is not stacked with awards by the end of 2019 I will be shocked and dismayed, as this effort deserves it. Yep, it’s that good. This book will undoubtedly be one of the best fantasy books you will read in 2019 and heralds the start of something absurdly promising. While I had my issues with it, I do not hesitate to call it fantastic and a must read for all who love fantasy. Be sure to mark the release date on your calendar.PS: There is a gorgeous hardcover of this book available from Goldsboro already. (Release date everywhere else is 15 January 2019) It has beautiful blue edges and to top it all is signed by the author. YES PLEASE! LinkYou can find this review at Booksprens
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  • Lena
    January 1, 1970
    “Everything’s a weapon if you’re willing to use it...” - Carillon Thay ALL THE STARS!!!George R.R. Martin without the rape. Brandon Sanderson without the extra five hundred pages of drudgery. Epic fantasy has a new king: Gareth Hanrahan. Bow down nerds. “We’re thieves,” says Cari, “call it a heist.” Runaway, robber, traveler: Cari swore she would never return to Guerdon. But she’s found her outlaw family in Spar and Rat, something worth fighting for.“There are moments when things change, when “Everything’s a weapon if you’re willing to use it...” - Carillon Thay ALL THE STARS!!!George R.R. Martin without the rape. Brandon Sanderson without the extra five hundred pages of drudgery. Epic fantasy has a new king: Gareth Hanrahan. Bow down nerds. “We’re thieves,” says Cari, “call it a heist.” Runaway, robber, traveler: Cari swore she would never return to Guerdon. But she’s found her outlaw family in Spar and Rat, something worth fighting for.“There are moments when things change, when the forces balance, and it’s possible for people - individual people - to remake the world.” Intellectual, thief, heir: Spar should be leading the Brotherhood but he caught the Stone Plague. Everyday, more of him freezes to stone. Everyday, he grows stronger.“He laughs, this long slow deep laugh, and he can’t shake the feeling that the dead man he just ate is laughing, too.” Ghoul, psychopomp, friend: Rat’s connections with the surface world are all that keep him from entering the feral stage of ghoulhood. “That’s a terrible idea, but fuck it, lead on.” My favorite character! Last of the Saints of the Kept Gods, she is middle aged, all powerful, and completely irreverent. “It came into my mind that I could possibly help with a little magic.” History professor, investigator, sorcerer: Ongent buys Carillion’s way out of jail to help her explore the mystery of her visions.“I don’t always control where I go.” Teleporter, cut-throat, lover: Professor Ongent’s son is usually his father’s brooding shadow. But when guarding Carillon, he proves a savage warrior.“You’re mother is a Thay?”“She never talks about that side of the family. She didn’t, even before the murders.” Student, researcher, runaway: Eladora is Professor Ongent’s assistant and reluctant hostess of her wayward cousin. “It’s a new era. All the old powers are obsolete.” The most powerful person in Guerdon, Rosha is an unrivaled alchemist, ruthless, and with ambition enough to take on the Gods.“We can’t have little gutter thieves running around like stray cats.” Head of the Brotherhood, Heinreil will do anything to retain control of the underworld. But Spar has a stronger claim. The Gutter Prayer was Goldsboro Books December 2018 Book of the Month. I received 118/700, with sprayed edges, signed by the author.
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  • Liz Barnsley
    January 1, 1970
    This book is totally crazy. I mean lunatic mad. But utterly brilliant.So we have Gods and sorcery, Stone Men and ghouls, worm creatures, Tallow men, Alchemists, thieves, the churches and the people, all in one huge melting pot of a city where there’s about to be a revolution. Or something…Either way our heroes Cari, Rat and Spar are about to have the adventure of a lifetime. Well actually the reader is about to, they will all be too busy staying alive and unravelling the chaos. When they are not This book is totally crazy. I mean lunatic mad. But utterly brilliant.So we have Gods and sorcery, Stone Men and ghouls, worm creatures, Tallow men, Alchemists, thieves, the churches and the people, all in one huge melting pot of a city where there’s about to be a revolution. Or something…Either way our heroes Cari, Rat and Spar are about to have the adventure of a lifetime. Well actually the reader is about to, they will all be too busy staying alive and unravelling the chaos. When they are not the ones  causing it…I loved this because it was so imaginative, Fantasy but not as we know it, with a twisted beauty of a plot that just sends you spinning off into a world of discovery. The political shenanigans, the amazingly diverse characters, with magic and more mayhem than you can shake a stick at. Although you probably shouldn’t shake any sticks because you might inadvertently cause an apocalypse…Excellent edgy, absorbing writing, an intelligently woven story that throws the unexpected at you with almost the turn of every page, I think Gareth Hanrahan is a total genius. I wouldn’t want to live inside his head though…A perfect antidote to those winter blues, this comes out in January and it will help boost you up again after the Christmas come down..make a list and check you have this book on it twice…Highly Recommended.
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  • Anton
    January 1, 1970
    Fascinating! Well earned 5 ⭐. Review to follow Fascinating! Well earned 5 ⭐️. Review to follow
  • ijeoma Agbaje
    January 1, 1970
    "Isn't it wonderful to be here in the great city of Guerdon, with all its sights and strangeness"I'm not sure what i was expecting when i started The Gutter Prayer. I'd seen the reviews, obviously, from readers who'd gotten the ARC (those lucky people) - they were glorious. It wasn't just one person lauding this book, everyone who's review i hold in high regard was unanimous in their rating of this book: Believe the praise, The Gutter Prayer is that book you don't want to pass up.📚📚So what makes "Isn't it wonderful to be here in the great city of Guerdon, with all its sights and strangeness"I'm not sure what i was expecting when i started The Gutter Prayer. I'd seen the reviews, obviously, from readers who'd gotten the ARC (those lucky people) - they were glorious. It wasn't just one person lauding this book, everyone who's review i hold in high regard was unanimous in their rating of this book: Believe the praise, The Gutter Prayer is that book you don't want to pass up.📚📚So what makes this book stand out? 📌I finally get a dark fantasy (i refuse to use that grimdark word) book where the female characters are not reduced to type. Like do you know how happy i was to have capable women. Nowhere was it questioned or insinuated that you couldn't do shit because you were a woman. I could have wept happy tears. No joke.📌This book hits the ground running. From the very first scene, the author shows you that this book means business and is going to leave you at the edge of your seat. And by the book gods it does!! Completely and totally leaves you spinning and questioning everyone's motives.📌The imagery/ World building is amazing. This book didn't do overly complicated and thank the lord for that. Whether it was with describing the non human denziens of Guerdon, or the gods or even Guerdon itself, this book was succint and direct. Yes you're reading, this but let me tell you Hanrahan was able to paint Guerdon and everything in it, in vivid imagery, that would make you fascinated enough to wish it existed. No jokes!! If Guerdon existed i'd definitely visit (i think) 📌The characters stand out. It's hard i'll give you that, to flesh out characters. To make them seem like there's different facets to them. But this book does that, We're not talking flat liveless characters here that end up feeling like they're being prodded to act in a certain way, It's all very organic. What's even more impressive with this book is, you're not just focused on one character. There's a host of characters here that you get to live inside their heads so to speak and they are freaking amazing.Side note: My fave was Aleena because whew!!! that lady was a boss. 📌The prose is right on the money...Not unnessarily hindered with cumbersome words just to make the book sound smart, except you're using the word inferated 😊. What i especially loved about it was the narration in present time. So it basically felt you and characters didn't know what was going to happen next. You were basically in the dark and it just served to make charcter decisions even more authentic because you could realy immerse yourself in their situations.📌Finally the plot. A lot of times i feel authors who write in this sub genre think if their book is especially gruesome and people curse a lot, the plot is taken care of. This doesn't happen here. The Gutter Prayer after being supported by amazing characterisation, world building and prose spins an awesome, pray for your characters, probably yell at your kindle, pray to the book gods, take deep breaths kind of story that you only find in the most impressive kind of books.Is this book perfect? HECK YEAH!!! Ok well, that's maybe too much pressure, but it comes pretty darn close. I promise you won't regret buying this book. BUY THIS BOOK!!
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  • Kristen
    January 1, 1970
    Full review is here on my blog!~This is the story of Carillon, Spar, and Rat, who are three friends who live in the pretty shadowy and dark city of Guerdon. They are each quite different from each other, but they share commonality in that they are all thieves in the city’s thieves guild, the Brotherhood. They are tasked by the guildmaster to steal something from the vault in the Tower of Law. What they don’t know is that while they are doing their job, another team is doing a much bigger and sha Full review is here on my blog!~This is the story of Carillon, Spar, and Rat, who are three friends who live in the pretty shadowy and dark city of Guerdon. They are each quite different from each other, but they share commonality in that they are all thieves in the city’s thieves guild, the Brotherhood. They are tasked by the guildmaster to steal something from the vault in the Tower of Law. What they don’t know is that while they are doing their job, another team is doing a much bigger and shadier job at the same time, and when one goes a bit wrong, they both go south, which leads to some epic shenanigans in the city of Guerdon.I liked Cari as a character. She’s an orphan who was once of a very powerful and noble family that was all mysteriously murdered one day. She was raised by her aunt out in the country, and when she comes back to the city she finds herself friends with Rat and Spar.Spar is a Stone Man, a sufferer of a plague that slowly turns the body to stone. It can be staved off with shots of a medicine known as alkahest, but there’s no cure for it, so we see Spar struggle day by day to survive.Rat is a ghoul, a race of creatures that live under the city and eat the dead. They have a bargain with the local religion, the Keepers, that they will keep the evil things that go bump in the night under guard if they can eat the dead of the city. Some ghouls attempt living as humans do, eating surface food and trying to pass as human. Having the ability to sneak around really well gives Rat a thief’s skillset, and he uses it to his advantage.This book was fantastically written, with great characters that I rooted for from page one. My favorite character in this book is Aleena, who is a saint (sort of like a cleric) for the Keepers, the city’s most prevalent religion. She gets her powers from the local gods, but her being the chosen of divine beings doesn’t make her less of a badass. She is snarky and foul-mouthed and everything I love in a character. <3<3<3Guerdon is a fascinating setting to read about. Alchemy is prevalent in the city, from bombs and the mysterious alkahest to the Tallowmen – men and women that have been turned into literal walking candles, who serve as more or less the city watch… if the city watch were insane and rather stabby people made of wax. There are subways and trains and things. In a way, the atmosphere of the city brought to mind Mieville’s city of New Crobuzon. A grubby-feeling secondary world with industrial revolution era technology. I really enjoyed the vibe.This book has a fascinating setting, awesome and unique characters, and a really original and well executed idea. There were twists and turns and all kinds of interesting stuff happened. It kept me reading until well into the wee hours every night. I can’t wait to see where this story goes in the future, but I imagine that it’s going to be pretty spectacular! Thanks to the author and Orbit via NetGalley for the review copy!
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  • Olivia
    January 1, 1970
    4.75 stars, perhaps on a re-read 5. It was close.This book is simply fantastic. First of all, look at this cover. It's beautiful. Second of all, I read this in two days. I couldn't stop. It's innovative, original, and simply a treat to read. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed The Gutter Prayer. Amazing characters, fabulous world building, and I think every fantasy fan should read this.Fantasy is rarely unique, but Hanrahan managed to deliver a book that is a breath of fresh air.On 4.75 stars, perhaps on a re-read 5. It was close.This book is simply fantastic. First of all, look at this cover. It's beautiful. Second of all, I read this in two days. I couldn't stop. It's innovative, original, and simply a treat to read. I can't even begin to tell you how much I enjoyed The Gutter Prayer. Amazing characters, fabulous world building, and I think every fantasy fan should read this.Fantasy is rarely unique, but Hanrahan managed to deliver a book that is a breath of fresh air.Once you start reading, the first thing you'll notice is the use of second-person narration in the prologue. Don't worry. The whole book is not like that, and the second person narration makes perfect sense once you get to the end of the prologue.Hanrahan's displays his vast imagination by creating developed characters and detailed, intricate world building. All three protagonists have clear, distinct voices. I clicked with all of them almost immediately. I didn't have to warm up to them or the book for that matter. From the very first chapter, I knew I was in for something special.Even the antagonists are unique. My favourite were the Tallowmen, made of wax, burning. Monsters, inhumanly fast, they will end you with no sign of mercy.The pacing is great, no dull moment, and the prose is pleasing. In fact, Hanrahan plays with language in a way that I thoroughly enjoyed. A fresh, unique voice.I recommend this wholeheartedly to every fantasy fan.
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  • Sadir Samir
    January 1, 1970
    What I loved most about the Gutter Prayer was the originality of it - especially in terms of the world building and the amazingly dark city of Guerdon. Add to that a great cast of interesting characters (Rat's my favourite), creepy candle monsters (?!) and much, much more. Also, the cover by Richard Anderson is just stunning and captures the setting and atmosphere perfectly in my opinion. I could go on for quite a bit about this book but I'll shut up now. Just read it and enjoy the ride! I reall What I loved most about the Gutter Prayer was the originality of it - especially in terms of the world building and the amazingly dark city of Guerdon. Add to that a great cast of interesting characters (Rat's my favourite), creepy candle monsters (?!) and much, much more. Also, the cover by Richard Anderson is just stunning and captures the setting and atmosphere perfectly in my opinion. I could go on for quite a bit about this book but I'll shut up now. Just read it and enjoy the ride! I really don't enjoy writing reviews but I know how important they are to support authors. Hence my short reviews.
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  • The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
    January 1, 1970
    As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...The Gutter Prayer, is (in my humble opinion) a grimdark must-read, a beautifully crafted, highly entertaining and gloriously twisted delight that lovers of dark fantasy will devour. Add in that it’s a debut, it’s only the first book so more (luckily) to come and in Hanrahan, the creative genius behind it all you have an author to watch out for and, in The Gutter Prayer itself a book As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...The Gutter Prayer, is (in my humble opinion) a grimdark must-read, a beautifully crafted, highly entertaining and gloriously twisted delight that lovers of dark fantasy will devour. Add in that it’s a debut, it’s only the first book so more (luckily) to come and in Hanrahan, the creative genius behind it all you have an author to watch out for and, in The Gutter Prayer itself a book that is something very special in your hands. I feel that The Gutter Prayer will be one of the most inventive fantasy books released this year and that come to the end of 2019 that it will be firmly placed on both many top fantasy books of the year lists and many top fantasy debuts of the year lists too, it is that good.Cari, Rat and Spar, a trio of thieves are tasked by Heinreil, the master of the Thieves Brotherhood in Guerdon to take part in a heist. Unbeknownst to them, treachery was at play and they were simply a distraction to mask the real purpose of the night’s events. The heist goes wrong turning into an utter FUBAR mess and chaos and mayhem soon erupt across (both above and below) the streets of Guerdon. The Black Iron Gods and their servants, an ancient evil from times past start rising from the depths. Stirring once more to life intent on reclaiming their power with devastating consequences that will affect everyone in the city of Guerdon and beyond.The story told by Hanrahan is utterly fantastic, returning old God’s, magic, political machinations, an ever-encroaching war and it is one that you will want to unravel for yourself.The three main characters are, Carillon/Cari who is a human female and recent refugee to the city. Rat, a flesh-eating ghoul (Hanharan has created a fantastic hierarchy for the ghouls) who stays on the surface rather than in the underground with his fellow ghouls and Spar, a Stone Man (the stone plague swept through Guerdon some thirty years previous). Spar is human but is slowly turning to stone, calcifying from the outside, in and he has to use alkahest (a drug injected between the stone plates) to keep the symptoms of the disease at bay.There are many tremendous secondary characters on display in The Gutter Prayer too including, amongst others, Jere, a thief-taker (bounty hunter), Professor Ongent, a University lecturer in the history and archaeology of Guerdon and my own personal favourite Aleena who is a spunky, blunt and foul-mouthed warrior Saint from the church of the keepers complete with flaming sword.All of the characters, regardless of whether they are main or secondary are well-developed, unique and distinctive with their own personalities and different qualities.The world-building and Hanrahan’s creations are both brilliant. When I read Blackwing by Ed McDonald back in 2017 I remember being creeped out and disturbed by his nightmarish creations of Darlings, Drudge and Gillings and in awe at his imagination. I had that same feeling of being creeped out and disturbed and the feeling of awe at the imagination on display when reading about the Tallowmnen, Ravellers and Crawling Ones that Hanrahan has created and included in The Gutter Prayer.You have the Tallowmen who patrol the streets of Guerdon and are made of wax. They are created by the Alchemists and made from humans put in vats, rendered down and stretched. They are creepy as fuck! Then you have the Gullheads (which we don’t see much of, maybe in book two) another alchemist creation featuring a humanoid body, a bird head and feathers. There’s also, Ravellers, a monstrous creature from the past, thought lost to history, a shapeless being that unravels its prey, consuming them and taking their shape. Perhaps worst of all from the eldritch menagerie of horrors on display in The Gutter Prayer are the Crawling Ones. Like the ghouls, they are denizens of the underground. Consisting of masses of pulsating sorcerous worms that can form the shape of a human. They eat dead flesh to consume the memories of those that they have eaten. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention The Fever Knight too, the bodyguard to Heinreil who is yet another terrifying and monstrous creation.The Godswar is raging across the land but it is yet to reach Guerdon and the city remains neutral and impartial. Selling alchemical weapons to all sides and taking in refugees but there are more and more flooding into Guerdon as The Godswar is getting nearer.Guerdon is a city on the edge, it is reaching a precipice, history repeats and it feels like Guerdon is once again ready for change. Guerdon is a city that is steeped in a festering history with more below than above. Over time everything crumbles to dust and the city has been built on and rebuilt on countless times using foundations of the past to fashion the present. It is festooned with tunnels and warrens beneath the streets that go down for miles hiding many a forgotten secret and many a horror that should remain buried and lost to the past. It is a living, breathing fetid hellhole of a city that is full of different districts and one that is populated by a whole array of unsavoury characters that comes to grimy life in the hands of Hanrahan.There’s a lot to like in The Gutter Prayer and I’m shocked that it is a debut. As a book, it is so complete and the writing so assured that you would think that Hanrahan had been writing books for years. The quality of The Gutter Prayer is perhaps not surprising when you consider that the publisher is Orbit and the pedigree of other Orbit debuts in recent years namely Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames and Age of Assassins by R. J. Barker.The Gutter Prayer is a cauldron of creativity. It is batshit crazy, it is brilliant, it is demented and it is all fused together with grim goodness.
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  • Lisa
    January 1, 1970
    Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2019/0...The Gutter Prayer is an imaginative fantasy with unique creatures and magic. It’s told from three perspectives, a set of thieves , each quite different and enjoyable for their own reasons. When things go wrong in their latest heist, a bigger picture about the threats the city is facing is realized. This trio of misfit thieves find themselves in a position at the center of it all. There is plenty of excitement and action.I like Review from Tenacious Reader: http://www.tenaciousreader.com/2019/0...The Gutter Prayer is an imaginative fantasy with unique creatures and magic. It’s told from three perspectives, a set of thieves , each quite different and enjoyable for their own reasons. When things go wrong in their latest heist, a bigger picture about the threats the city is facing is realized. This trio of misfit thieves find themselves in a position at the center of it all. There is plenty of excitement and action.I like the group of three this story is told from. There is Cari, who we don’t initially know a lot about, just that she came to the city with nothing, and Rat took pity on her and brought her in to the fold, and set her up with a place to stay. Rat is a young ghoul. His perspective can be entertaining with his dry observations. And then there is Spar, who is probably one of the most honorable thieves around and has a knack for inspiring people. But that only goes so far now that he is a Stone Man.Now when i mentioned the imaginative qualities of this book, some of that comes from the different types of residents in the city as well as the types of monsters it faces. Spar is a Stone Man, which is someone suffering from a very contagious disease that slowly turns the body to stone. It’s kind of like a more rock solid version of leprosy. No one wants to touch a stone man for fear of contracting the awful disease (a very real possibility). They are quite easy to spot and so easy to shun. Interestingly a side effect of the disease is they gain inhuman strength before they are completely debilitated. This means they are desirable workers for and are used for manual labor.Tallowmen are this sort of Frankenstein-ish wax monster police that are inhumanly fast and vicious and show no mercy. Then there are ghouls, who have their own underground system of tunnels and ravellers, who are just frightening and more. Definitely a good amount of creativity and imagination went into the world building.While there is a lot to enjoy in the book, I do worry that the early flood of very high reviews might do the book a bit of a disservice by setting expectations a bit too high. I don’t think you should enter this one with expectations of a perfect read. It is a debut, and a good one at that, but there were some areas I felt were a little problematic, starting with the very first chapter. It is written in second person, so is full of “you” and “your”, which I find is just awkward as a reader. I am not there, I don’t know these things or see these things, stop saying “you”. Personally, I found it harder to immerse myself in the book because of it. Then to take it just a stretch further, it also appears to be the perspective of a building. As second person. So I got to add the “I am not a building, I don’t have a tower, or a staircase or whatever” to the mix. I felt so distracted by these stylistic/editorial decisions that it really made it hard for me to get into the actual story. I think if the intent was to give “life” to the building, there could have been another, less distracting and puzzling, way to achieve that. Personally, I think second person rarely, if ever, works in fiction and this was definitely not an exception to that. There was another early section of the book that was from the perspective of a Tallowman, which honestly, didn’t read as well as the other perspectives (that could have provided the same information).When the perspective was from any of the three main characters, it typically was good, so I am not entirely sure why there was this sort of experimentation (that is what these sections felt like to me). There were also some sections that felt a little info-dumpy to me, where I wanted to get back to the characters and the current action instead of reading whatever world details were being laid out. Impatience to get back to the action is always a pro and a con to me. It means I am fully invested in the story and am anxious for progression, but it also means that I’ve lost some of the momentum I was enjoying and feel like my reading experience is not as good as it could have been.I also have to confess, I felt like the ending could have been stronger and more impactful, but instead there were so many things that happened so quickly I think I just think there was not enough page space devoted to it to give readers time to really appreciate it. Especially in relation to what happens to each of the characters. There is an epilogue that gives the reader a bit more detail and time for things to sink in, but again, there’s not much page space devoted to it, and I found it hard to gather the emotion I felt it probably deserved, which was surprising.So, while there were aspects and sections of this book that may not have worked as well for me as the book overall did, I do think this is a great start to a new series and look forward to the next one. I also feel like the few things that I saw as weaknesses in this book are things that can easily be (and typically are) ironed out in a book 2.
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  • Mike Everest Evans
    January 1, 1970
    The Good: A line-up of the usual suspects with a plot as thick as thieves, complete with Warcraftian worldbuilding and Lovecraftian lore, making for a truly unique and at times unusual (and this is a good thing!) debut.The Bad: Not so much a trigger warning, but this will NOT be for everyone. There are multiple point of view characters, perspectives and tenses. The Gutter Prayer isn’t going to please everyone, nor will it polarise readers. If you don’t like it you’ll leave it before you get too The Good: A line-up of the usual suspects with a plot as thick as thieves, complete with Warcraftian worldbuilding and Lovecraftian lore, making for a truly unique and at times unusual (and this is a good thing!) debut.The Bad: Not so much a trigger warning, but this will NOT be for everyone. There are multiple point of view characters, perspectives and tenses. The Gutter Prayer isn’t going to please everyone, nor will it polarise readers. If you don’t like it you’ll leave it before you get too far in, but if you do like it at the start you’ll love it by the end (I certainly did).The Ugly Truth: The Gutter Prayer is a mercurial masterpiece. It’s not so much ‘ground-breaking’ as it is the author treating the fantasy genre and all of its staples as a ‘sandbox’ (read: sandbox MMO) and building a castle with his hands as opposed to using the bucket approach. The only thing greater than its ambitions as a debut is its accomplished performance and the awe-inspiring imagination that’s gone into it, which surely marks Gareth Hanrahan as one to watch.Review: From the very first page I realised that The Gutter Prayer was something special.Glancing at the cover and casting an eye over the blurb, you’d be forgiven for thinking this is your usual heist story, a high-octane and hi-jinx helter-skelter of tricks and treats. But as the story unfolds, and the double-crosses lead to dead-ends and ever increasing dread and dire consequence, the conspiracy afoot would make any curtain-twitcher pulled down the blinds to fit steel bars to their windows.Welcome to Guerdon. A city of cities, built upon the brick and block of those cities and civilisations before it. And like its construction, its citizens stand on the shoulders of those beneath them, those ‘low lifes’ whose only crime (or at least, their first crime) was to be born into a lower rank than the rich and the ruthless above them. Politicians and priesthoods, alchemists and ancient forces, sorcerers and saints, thieves and Tallowmen, golems and ghouls, Guerdon’s streets are a hive of scum and villainy that would spit out any chosen-one farmboy (or girl!). Whilst the godswar rages far from its walls, the battle for control of the city begins with a bang as three young thieves, a human, a ghoul and a stoneman, find themselves caught in the crossfire of a conspiracy that threatens not just Guerdon, but the outcome of the war, and the rest of the world. I genuinely don’t know where to start with this one. Admittedly, this is in part because there is SO MUCH I can say about The Gutter Prayer (but don’t have the words to do it justice) but also because there is SO MUCH to say about the Gutter Prayer. Yes, you read that right. So much I can say vs so much to say.Bear with me whilst I try and collect my thoughts.Let’s start with the style, as this is the first thing that struck me dumb. Though, admittedly, looking back, I was more dumbstruck than awestruck when I started the book, as the opening scene really threw me, but I hung on and I’m really glad that I did.Hanrahan’s voice – and the style of this book – is elementary. Mercurial even. I remember the first time that I read Joe Abercrombie’s The Blade Itself, and found myself asking ‘but, but, this isn’t what I’m used to?’ I did a similar thing with Anna Smith Spark’s ‘The Court of Broken Knives’. Neither book was missing something – they were doing things differently and I LOVED IT once I learnt to listen to what the book was telling me. And this is what Hanrahan does best. Who needs limited perspectives and tenses when you can use any and all of them whenever you want to? To limit yourself to one is to restrict yourself, and the story. Rather, The Gutter Prayer unshackles itself from the conventional and flies free in the face of fancy and fantasy. Hanrahan isn’t telling the story of the Blade Itself, or The Court of Broken Knives. He’s telling the story of The Gutter Prayer, HIS STORY, however he wants to – and it’s astounding.The cast takes the usual suspects and rips the rug out from underneath them, bundles them up in it, beats them black and blue, and throws them in the deep end from the get go. Our heroes are the unlikely ‘who’s who?’ from the underfoot if not underworld of society: Carillion Thay, a human thief relatively new to the city; Spar, a local lowborn with lofty ideals above the station of a criminal, let alone one afflicted with the curse of the stonemen; and Rat, another rogue, but this time a ghoul, who shirks the company of his own kind in favour of the surface, and the living. Beyond these three there is a whole host of characters who wouldn’t look out of place in a waxwork museum of celebrities and calamities.Speaking of calamities, I NEED to ramble on a moment about the races in this book. Guerdon inhabits the same DnD’esque ‘realm’ of monsters, myth and mayhem as Nicholas Eames. ‘A girl, a ghoul and a golem walk into a bar,’ might be the opening line of a joke in an Eames’ Grandual (where the Band books are set) but in Guerdon it’s just another day with a ‘y’ in it.From the ghouls with their hoofs and horns and casual cannibalism, to the stonemen whose cancerous calcification means that their bodies, bones and even their organs will turn to stone. I mentioned waxwork above, and one of the first creatures introduced are the Tallowmen, wax men and women whose previous beings and bodies were melted down and put back together in a mould, fitter, faster and fiercer than before, with a living flame that burns inside them on a wick. Next up, the Crawling Ones. I’m not going to go into details on these ones, but its safe to say the name is apt. Beyond these there are Ravellers, Gullheads, the Kept Gods, the Black Iron Gods, and something called a Fever Knight…And all of this is set (apart from a brief interlude) within/beneath the walls of Guerdon, which in itself is as vibrant as its inhabitants. It’s more than just your average fantasy city setting, with elements of steampunk.It’s safe to say that this is a BUSY book, and I haven’t really touched upon the plot. Every page there is something or someone knew, and trying to keep track of everything going on is a task in itself. But that’s the point, or at least that’s my opinion. Just sit back and enjoy the ride, because once it gets going you’ll be clinging on for dear life.There are a few themes that run throughout; the usual power of friendship, what it means to be a hero, and what it means to create/be a part of/leave a legacy. I’m not sure whether one aspect I picked up on could be called a theme, but I found it wonderfully intriguing: the weaponization of an older religion to further the pursuits of the modern ‘faiths’ (power, wealth, influence). I’ll say no more on this, but it’s an uncomfortable truth and I for one would love to hear what other readers think about this.I am REALLY rambling now, so I’ll try and wrap up with a few final takeaways. The authors who have blurbed this booked tell you as much about this book as the kudos they’ve given. On the back of the ARC I received from Orbit (thank you) the recommendations come from Peter Mclean (for the urban fantasy feel and the grimdark/heart), Anna Smith Spark ( for her unique voice) and Michael R Fletcher (for the dark fantasy and wild imagination). When I started reading this I found myself asking: ‘this is a debut? THIS? A DEBUT?’ Having now finished it, I find myself saying: ‘THIS is a debut!’*Also, as part of this review, I’d like to just say that the cover artist, Richard Anderson, is KILLING IT with covers these days. I’ve been a fan of his since the years of Guild Wars, and long before The Kings of the Wyld was released, his artwork had me raving about it. And with the cover of Gutter Prayer, Richard Anderson nails it!
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  • Holly (The Grimdragon)
    January 1, 1970
    4.5 Stars~*Review originally published on Grimdark Magazine*"He moves through the familiar graveyard. The ancient willow trees know him, and bend aside for him. He scales the cliff-side rather than take the longer, guarded path. The worm-men are looking for him; he can hear them calling to one another in horrible rattles too soft for any human ear to hear. There will be a reckoning, he promises them silently."To say that the hype surrounding this book is intense would be an understatement. Antic 4.5 Stars~*Review originally published on Grimdark Magazine*"He moves through the familiar graveyard. The ancient willow trees know him, and bend aside for him. He scales the cliff-side rather than take the longer, guarded path. The worm-men are looking for him; he can hear them calling to one another in horrible rattles too soft for any human ear to hear. There will be a reckoning, he promises them silently."To say that the hype surrounding this book is intense would be an understatement. Anticipation levels have been through the goddamn roof since I first saw that gorgeous cover from the genius that is Richard Anderson. It just may be one of my favorite pieces that he has done! Oh, and the hype is warranted.The Gutter Prayer is.. well, damn. It would take ages to describe exactly what this is about and my opinion is that the less you know about this the better! Briefly, though. It features three friends, thieves, who get caught up in an ongoing magical battle. Shenanigans abound!This somehow felt like kismet, reading this massive story during December. The magical holidays, when I usually binge the extended versions of Lord of the Rings. Something about an immersive fantasy during the dreary winter months just does it for me, even more than usual. Envisioning going far away on an epic adventure..However, my reading pace has been atrocious lately, which may have affected how I felt towards the beginning. I think it's a story that works better if you can read for lengthier periods of time, rather than a bunch of short sessions like I had. That being said, the last 100+ pages were fucking bonkers, in just the best way. I couldn't put it down!It's evident that Hanrahan writes role-playing games, because he took all of the best things from RPG's and made it into something even more mesmerizing within this fantasy epic. The world building is just wondrous! The characters are intriguing (I loved Aleena! She is such a badass!) The storytelling phantasmal! It's a book that I had to stop and turn around in my head for a bit once it had ended.The Gutter Prayer is incredibly original. When I say original, I bloody mean original. It delights me when I read something that I can't immediately compare to another piece of work. That's a major bonus. Within this, there is a smorgasbord of imaginative beings littering the universe. Monsters, humans, sorcerers, Lovecraftian ghouls, Gods, saints, Tallowmen (warriors made from wax) and MOTHER FUCKING WORM CREATURES THAT FEAST ON THE DEAD.Is it grimdark? Absolutely. But there are hopeful undertones as well. It's one that I think most fans of dark fantasy will love!"Rain drums on the warehouse roof like fingers on a coffin lid. The world's buried alive by clouds."The Gutter Prayer was a brilliantly fucked up, unique and intelligent debut. Even though this works incredibly well as a standalone, I have a feeling that the next book will be even better. There is a world of potential in Hanrahan with this as his debut novel!The Gutter Prayer is out now!(Massive thanks to Orbit Books for sending me a copy!)**The quotes above were taken from an ARC & are subject to change upon publication**
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  • Ellie (faerieontheshelf)
    January 1, 1970
    > 3.5/4 stars This is a really gritty, dark fantasy debut filled with amazing characters and interesting worldbuilding. My attention was grabbed a while back by the amazing cover and the blurb, and it mostly lived up to all my gritty fantasy expectations. The only problem with it was that I lost a bit of interest during the middle, and found the pacing to be slower than I'd like. However, the beginning and ending was so good, and I love Hanrahan's writing style - it's really unique, with som > 3.5/4 stars This is a really gritty, dark fantasy debut filled with amazing characters and interesting worldbuilding. My attention was grabbed a while back by the amazing cover and the blurb, and it mostly lived up to all my gritty fantasy expectations. The only problem with it was that I lost a bit of interest during the middle, and found the pacing to be slower than I'd like. However, the beginning and ending was so good, and I love Hanrahan's writing style - it's really unique, with some lovely turns of phrase. The Gutter Prayer is set in the city of Guerdon, a sprawling place of stone and grime, with a good layer of corruption under the surface. Also, there are gods trapped in bells. And it's filled with fascinating characters: alchemists, scholars, tallowmen (human candles), ghouls, saints, priests, stone men, and thieves. The entire cast of characters is much more eclectic than your usual fantasy fare, and it was so fun to read through the narrative of a ghoul and a saint, amongst others. (Aleena is actually my favourite.)As I said earlier, my only problem was only that it didn't move forward as quickly as I would've liked. I found my attention wavering at parts, and though I loved having all the different POVs, it did make the story a lot longer and I do wonder if some perspectives could've been shortened - not chopped completely, but just some parts removed. TL;DR: All in all, a really steady and unique fantasy debut, set in a gritty world that I can't wait to see more of in book 2. I received a copy in exchange for an honest review A full review can be read on my blog, faerieontheshelf.wordpress.com
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  • Alexander Páez
    January 1, 1970
    Reseña completa2019 no podría comenzar mejor, y es que se avecinan una serie de debuts literarios dentro de la fantasía épica de lo más interesantes. The Gutter Prayer, de Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit Books, 2019) es uno de estos libros que menciono y del que os comentaré mis impresiones en la reseña. Justo comenzaba este nuevo año con una breve reflexión: me apetecía leer más fantasía, más aventuras, más épica. 2018 ha estado marcado por la predominancia de novelas de ciencia ficción y ensayos cientí Reseña completa2019 no podría comenzar mejor, y es que se avecinan una serie de debuts literarios dentro de la fantasía épica de lo más interesantes. The Gutter Prayer, de Gareth Hanrahan (Orbit Books, 2019) es uno de estos libros que menciono y del que os comentaré mis impresiones en la reseña. Justo comenzaba este nuevo año con una breve reflexión: me apetecía leer más fantasía, más aventuras, más épica. 2018 ha estado marcado por la predominancia de novelas de ciencia ficción y ensayos científicos, así que me apetece volver a la capa y espada. Aunque este libro lo comencé en diciembre, lo terminé hace unas semanitas y adelante que la novela debut de Gareth Hanrahan, The Gutter Prayer, me ha gustado muchísimo.The Gutter Prayer nos presenta un escenario, una ciudad, bueno, mejor dicho, un personaje: la ciudad. Una ciudad que está pasando por una crisis: una gran cantidad de refugiados que acuden al lugar de una guerra lejana. Además está repleta de industrias alquímicas que contaminan el agua y causan enfermedades y pobreza entre la población. La mayor parte de los productos de esas industrias son armas que se venden a ambos bandos de esa misma guerra lejana (¿os va sonando?). Además la iglesia tiene disputas y tensiones con los políticos y parlamentarios y los magnates de las industrias. Está ciudad es Guerdon, antigua, reconstruída una infinidad de veces, hogar de muchísimas razas y culturas y religiones. Cari ha perdido la motivación de vivir, no sabe qué hacer ni a dónde ir. Una huérfana desde muy joven que siempre ha huido y correteado por las calles de Guerdon. Un día fracasa en un robo, la atrapan y la marcan de por vida. Esto parece, de algún modo, insuflarle una determinación inquebrantable, una resiliencia que le ayudará a superar ciertas adversidades y comienza a jugar su propio juego contra los enemigos que buscan acabar con ella. Spar, el amigo de Cari, tiene sus propios problemas. Un hombre que trata de vivir fuera de la sombra de su padre, y que además sufre una enfermedad que lentamente le está convirtiendo en roca. Es una hoja de doble filo, ya que la enfermedad le da una fuerza y resistencia sobrehumanas, pero al mismo tiempo le está matando, inexorable. Spar vive un tiempo prestado, limitado, breve, y lo sabe. El tercer miembro del grupo es un ghoul conocido como Rat (Rata), atrapado entre la estricta jerarquía del mundo ghoul bajo tierra y la vida en la superficie. Un personaje con una evolución tremenda e interesantísima.Reseña completa
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  • Alison♊⚜️✨
    January 1, 1970
    ~~I received an ARC from Netgalley/Orbit Publishing (Little, Brown Book Group UK) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.~~ 2.5, maybe 3 starsIt had the potential to be a really good read, however, there were some issues that didn’t sit well with me, which decreased its rating unfortunately. Characters: - Cari: Even though there were 3 main characters in this book mentioned in its blurb, the author somehow managed to make her basically the only “main” character in the book (v ~~I received an ARC from Netgalley/Orbit Publishing (Little, Brown Book Group UK) in exchange for an honest review, all opinions are my own.~~ 2.5, maybe 3 starsIt had the potential to be a really good read, however, there were some issues that didn’t sit well with me, which decreased its rating unfortunately. Characters: - Cari: Even though there were 3 main characters in this book mentioned in its blurb, the author somehow managed to make her basically the only “main” character in the book (view spoiler)[as he made her the ‘special snowflake’, almost rendering most other characters almost useless, which I didn’t really appreciate. (hide spoiler)]- Spar: I’m not quite sure what to think of him… I liked him better than Cari (though I liked most characters more than her) & thought that he should have had a more prominent role in the book, even though he was supposed to be an MC. (view spoiler)[ I was quite surprised that he was killed off in the end as he had quite the potential to develop more as a character. (hide spoiler)]- Rat: Out of the main characters, he was present the least, which was a bit disappointing considering he was quite an interesting character. He plays almost no part & wasn’t present in a lot of events that happened, which confused me as it seemed that he could have played a much larger part in the book as a whole. On a less serious note, there were so many contradicting statements about his appearance, I didn’t really know how to picture him. Pacing: - It was a bit slow in the beginning, causing me to almost force myself to read the at first, though, later, the pace began speeding up which made it much easier & enjoyable to read. World building & Quality: - The quality of the book, in my opinion, fluctuated between pretty good and okay. Went from okay to good, then back to okay and so on….- Furthermore, the many POVs took away from the book a bit, considering it looked like the POVs were patched in random order. Also, when waiting for something to happen in one POV, needing to read through 4 others, diminished the excitement to find out what happens.- The world building was quite well done, though, at some moments, I struggled to remember all the things that had been explained in the beginning.In conclusion, there were aspects of the book that were quite well done, however, there were also some that took things away from the book, which was quite a shame. Anyhow, book is definitely recommended.
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  • Lou
    January 1, 1970
    Wow! I rarely gush about a book, but this absolutely blew me away. It is a beautifully woven, complex tale that moves at a slick pace, and the compelling world Hanrahan has created is realistic and believable. His characters are strong and well-developed; I found myself becoming quite attached to them. It's a tale full of twists and turns that shock and surprise, and just when you think you have everything figured out the author blind side's you with another shocker! There is such attention paid Wow! I rarely gush about a book, but this absolutely blew me away. It is a beautifully woven, complex tale that moves at a slick pace, and the compelling world Hanrahan has created is realistic and believable. His characters are strong and well-developed; I found myself becoming quite attached to them. It's a tale full of twists and turns that shock and surprise, and just when you think you have everything figured out the author blind side's you with another shocker! There is such attention paid to even the smallest details that you soon realise that this author is a master of his trade.The Gutter Prayer is a richly-imagined, spectacular gem in the vein of Robert Jackson Bennett and China Mieville, and I honestly didn't want it to end. I am so glad this is the first in what looks to be a fantastic, epic series; I simply cannot wait for the next instalment. I strongly recommend this if you're a fantasy fan as this is one of the very best I've ever read. Bloody amazing!Many thanks to Orbit for an ARC.
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