I was privileged to be asked to review Crossing Mother’s Grave by Jake Elliot. Jake and I “met” through our shared publisher, and parts of my review to his first book can be found inside the cover of this one. Crossing Mother’s Grave is the sequel to Elliot’s first novel, The Wrong Way Down, and I don’t think they can be read out of order, so if you haven’t read the first, you can have the luxury of reading them both back to back (where as I had to wait several months).
It is not often that a sequel out does the original, but over the past couple months, I have come across two (I will get into the other at another time). Often we get conned into reading a sequel because the first was so good – i.e. The Hunger Games, lets face it the first was way better than the second.
That is not the case with Crossing Mother’s Grave. This installment actually out does the first (and not that the first was bad), it was not, but it required a large amount of set up to introduce the Characters, the Setting, and so on (typical of a Fantasy novel since the author has to introduce their new world). This one was not encumbered with set up, so instead we get action – and a lot of it.
Elliot managed to take me back to my D&D days (I know, I’m a geek). I was reminded of those days drawing elaborate cave maps and setting up pitfalls and wicked monsters along the catacombs, only this book is more violent than I could have imagined as a teen.
Set mostly in the dark, I could feel the claustrophobia setting in. Popalia and her companions escape possible death at Dead Rik’s and resume their hunt for the thief that stole a sacred artifact, only to find that their prey has been captured and taken underground by an Orc hunting party. Fleeing through vast caverns, they spend the entire novel in ‘Mother’s Grave’ with only torches to light their way and death around every corner.
Elliot really sets the mood from the very beginning and my earlier assessment of possibly three or four novels is likely completely wrong – we may be at the beginning of a very long epic – having only scratched the surface – especially with what we find out at the end.
Where the first book seemed to hold back on the violence and sexuality, this one opened it up. From bloody fight scenes to eating human flesh, Crossing Mother’s Grave delivers excitement – and most of all empathetic characters that both inspire and annoy.
Great novel, Jake, your fans will not be disappointed!