Sorrow in paradise
A parent’s worst nightmare
When grief drives one to revenge
Living in a tropical paradise with his spouses and kids, Amiere is a merchant of light, a sculptor who carves glowing crystals into spectacular and powerful, demon-killing works of art. When the ground opens up near his idyllic village to reveal a massive supply of crystals, the whole nation of Aloutia celebrates. The merchants are guaranteed money for decades and officials predict Aloutia will be safe from demonkind for generations. But Amiere isn’t rejoicing—when the ground split apart, his seven-year-old daughter fell to her death.
Amiere’s grief turns to rage when an old enemy returns to the village with a young daughter displaying signs of starvation and abuse. Having witnessed his own daughter’s death, Amiere cannot bear the thought of watching another child die, especially when he can prevent it. Unable to ask police for help due to the village’s reputation of hostility toward authority figures, Amiere takes matters into his own hands, even at the risk of being exiled and separated from his family forever.
Merchants of Light and Bone is a dark fantasy novel, part of the Pentagonal Dominion universe, written by Erika McCorkle, and published by ShadowSpark Publishing. It's important to note that despite being part of the universe, it can be read as a total standalone, as this time our setting gets translated to a tropical paradise, an idyllic village where Amiere, a merchant of light, lives with his spouses and kids.
For a bit in the novel, we get to experience that paradise; a life that is great in all the senses. However, this happiness doesn't last long, as a rift opens near the village; what for most of the people is a euphoric discovery, for Amiere becomes the worst of the nightmares for a parent: his daughter fell to death. Consumed by grief, working becomes a chore for him; but this feeling evolves into pure rage when an old enemy returns to the village, with his own daughter showing signs of malnourishment and abuse.
Full of rage, Amiere takes a decision that involves the risk of being exiled for himself; but the sole vision of that child is the fuel this fire needs to burn. The consequences of this assassination will bring problems for everybody in the family.
McCorkle returns to the Pentagonal Dominion world, in a fresh setting, but sharing some points that made the previous book shine, such as the in-depth world-building, managing to create an alive place where the characters exist. Despite this book could be called cozier at the start, soon we are spectators of the darkness that characterize McCorkle's writing, this time tinted by the family bonds that move our characters; the use of this complicated situation is the perfect catalyst to see how Amiere and his family deal with the problems originated by Amiere's impulsive action.
As a consequence of how extensive the world-building is the pacing is rather slow, especially because how well portrayed most of the characters are; McCorkle takes a sweet time to make sure we have all the necessary elements to give the adequate weight to the story she's trying to tell.
If you like dark fantasy, family stories and a really complex world-building, I would recommend you to check the Pentagonal Dominion universe, and depending on the content warnings, choose either this one or the previous (personally I would say this one is slightly fitter to my taste).
I am Erika McCorkle, she/her, living in the Pacific Northwest of the USA. I am a creator of fantasy worlds and a voyager to the worlds created by others. I spend much of my free time writing, reading, watching anime, and playing video games, all usually of the fantasy genre. I have a Bachelor’s of Science in Biology and currently work the night shift at a blood bank, meaning I am most definitely a vampire.