Welcome to the SPFBO 8 Finals! Team Queen’s Book Asylum reviews A Song for the Void by Andrew C. Piazza, picked by the Fantasy Faction team.
A quick reminder about how we are proceeding in the Finals: our judges had the freedom to opt out of reading any of the books due to personal interest, time restrictions, unforeseen life events, etc. Our aim is to have at least 3 reviews/scores for each finalist, which shouldn’t be too hard between the 5 of us. For A Song for the Void we have 3 reviews for your reading pleasures, so, let’s get down to it!
|Fantasy, Horror, Historical Fiction
|Date of Publishing:
|July 15, 2020
A Mind Imprisoned Is The Greatest Of Hells.
1853. South China Sea. While on patrol between the Opium Wars, the crew of the steam frigate HMS Charger pursues a fleet of pirates that have been terrorizing the waters surrounding Hong Kong.
But now the hunters have become the hunted. Something else has come to the South China Sea, something ancient and powerful and malevolent. Now, the crew of the Charger must face their worst nightmares in order to survive the terrible creature they come to know as the Darkstar.
A Song For The Void is a haunting, terrifying historical horror novel that will keep you turning the pages and jumping at the shadows.
A Song for the Void is a book that is kind of right up my alley so to speak. I love cosmic horror of the William Hope Hodgson variety, and with enough fantasy elements also sprinkled in here and there to scratch that particular itch, this book had me in its hooks right from the jump. I really enjoyed so many aspects of this story, not the least of which was the journey to a mysterious island angle in pursuit of who only knows what. Kind of gave me King Kong vibes at times as the naval journey progresses and a potential mutiny begins to brew when some of the crew begin having visions and start getting a little skittish about what in the heck they may be chasing. I will say that this is not a book for those that are somewhat squeamish when it comes to depictions of the gruesome variety. It’s a dark book by any measure, but I tend to lean toward those kinds of stories so that’s what made my enjoyment level rise as I turned the pages. In the end I found this to be a thoroughly enjoyable story that touches on a lot of philosophical areas as well as delivering an action-packed and fun story. Lots to like here and this will not be my last Andrew Piazza book by a longshot.
A Song for the Void is an intriguing mix of historical and weird fiction set on the high seas and in the midst of the Opium Wars.
From the beginning, there was a strong sense of period and place, both in terms of the setting, characters, dialogue, and narrative tone. While I’m not an expert on more classical literature, it reminded me a great deal, stylistically, of period pieces such as The Mystery of the Water-logged Ship by William Hope Hodgson and The Floating Forest by Herman Scheffauer. Obviously, these are not like-for-like comparisons as A Song for the Void is unmistakably a modern novel, but it has a certain old-school heaviness and Gothic flavour.
Initially, A Song for the Void reads more as nautical fiction, albeit with a scratchy skein of weirdness. As the book progresses, this weave thickens and tightens until the nebulous ‘oddness’ mutates into extreme violence and body horror. Throughout, there are some strong themes of addiction and grief, along with a lot of philosophical questions about reality and consciousness.
There were some issues, which impacted my final rating; there was frequent repetition in terms of the philosophising and the main character, Dr Pearce summarised things far too often for my liking. The main issue, however, was the ending which lost a great deal of impact due to the antagonist ‘twirling its moustache,’ shall we say.
Overall though, A Song for the Void was a good read, and I’d be more than happy to read more by its author Andrew C. Piazza.
A Song for the Void made me curious from the moment it got picked up as a finalist. The historical fiction lover side of me reared her head, while the horror fan in me… oh, wait, I don’t have one. Funny thing is, while I used to enjoy grimdark fiction, I never was into horror. Or maybe I didn’t pick the right books. Anyway. Did I say I’m not really into nautical fantasy either? Of course, there are exceptions, but I bounced off of more than not. Either way, I went into this one with an open mind.
The first chapter/prologue hooked me and the next one lost me and I got scared because there came a sea battle and I hoped to all hells that A Song for the Void won’t be all about sea battles. Thankfully, it wasn’t and once the story settled down and we got to the mystery bits, I got hooked again, for the last 25% to lose me again. So much so, that I put the book down around the 76% mark thinking I might finish it later, but then I never did. This book, for me, was all about ups and downs, and I wish I loved it, but I didn’t. I have a healthy appreciation for it, though. And I can see why others sing its praises.
Since A Song for the Void is mostly set on a ship, it gives you this claustrophobic feeling, and I think that’s something Piazza definitely did well – the atmosphere. And descriptions. Piazza painted a vivid image that helps immerse the reader. Another thing done well was the characterization. Which is ironic, as I don’t think I actually liked any of them. Maybe the kid and the captain. But then, I don’t think I was supposed to like any of them, really. But then I wasn’t supposed to hate them either. Well, the American is an exception, he definitely was meant to be hated. As for the MC, Dr. Pearce, he sure was an interesting figure with his background and flaws.
There is a lot packed into A Song for the Void – it deals with themes like racism, addiction, grief, war, and its consequences mainly on the Chinese people, among other things. It’s also a mash-up of genres such as murder mystery, psychological thriller, and eldritch horror with a splash of Fantasy. I probably would have enjoyed this book more without the horror elements as I have no taste for that. There weren’t many, but they weren’t for the fainthearted. It was probably most prominent in the last 25% or so, though.
A Song for the Void and I had some ups and downs, which mainly came down to personal preferences and, to my opinion, an uneven pace, so I’m inclined to give a try to something else from Piazza in the future.
Our score for A Song for the Void by Andrew C. Piazza
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