Shaman of Souls, by Ryan Wilshusen, follows of a smattering of characters as they try to solve an intriguing set of double murders.
Each character introduced in this book serves the plot in some way shape or form, but if you are not a fan of books where you have to keep track of a ton of characters, I don’t know if I could easily recommend this to you. For starters, we are introduce to Criske, a half elf who has joined the guardians to try and escape his social class in life, and Henrik, a dwarf who is incredibly interested in all kinds of architect, and more than willing to ramble on about it unprompted (and yes it is kind of endearing). After these two characters we are introduced to Xeile, a stowaway trying to sneak into the city of Trifectus undiscovered. After Xeile is Kelt, then Glenna, then Usumi. Right off the bat this is six characters we need to keep track of as they take their own journeys and intermingle together. And no this does not include any side characters of which there are plenty.
The world that Ryan Wilshusen has created is vast and intriguing with quite a few rules and regulations. For starters, all magic users have to get a license to practice magic. But Alicia, you say, what if they want to practice in secret? How will they be detected? Well, all magic users are born with violet eyes, so they cannot hide. I found this to be an incredibly interesting attribute that the author included and I was curious if this would play an obvious role later in the story, or if it would end up just being one of those behind-the-scenes details. I was a bit disappointed to find out it was a behind the scenes detail and I felt the author could have done more with this, or at least explained how this came to be.
While this book does have six main characters, to me Xeile is the biggest main character with everything that ends up happening directly impacting him in multiple ways. He ends up being able to help the rest of the crew out with the double murder because he can see, talk to, and interact with ghosts. Seeing ghosts, talking to them, is something that has been done quite a bit, so it is always surprising (pleasantly so) when I can see an author put their own unique twist on it. In my opinion, Ryan does manage to do that. Xeile can see and interact with spirits, but this is not a solve all solution. Most of the spirits he interacts with ends up not being able to remember their past more than a little bit, if at all. Only by spending time with these spirits and interacting with them is he able to get more information.
All that being said, while this is a good book, it made me incredibly exhausted to read. I have no idea why that is, but this was a long book. I did go back and check and it is approximately 120000 words, and it felt like it. This is not a book you can blow through and read in a day without some serious dedication. I had to put it down and pick it up multiple times to be able to finish it. In addition, that, the author seriously could have cut some things out of this book. Some scenes felt like that dragged on forever, and you almost wanted to skip them and hope you didn’t miss anything. And once you get closer to the end, there are so many spots that feel like they are the end of the book, and then boom…. More pages.
Overall – this was not a bad book. I enjoyed reading it, but I wish it had been a bit shorter. The author does a nice job at wrapping up a bunch of plot points at the end of the book, while also leaving enough for a massive cliffhanger that you do not quite expect coming. I think I read the last page of the book like three times, trying to really wrap my mind around that cliff hanger.
Plot – 8/10
Characters – 8/10
Originality – 8/10
General Joy of Reading – 5/10
Overall Score – 29/40
Shaman of Souls – R.M. Wilshusen
Cost* – $6.99 or $6.49 if you preorder.
*Cost is based upon what the book cost when book review is published