Friday, June 26, 2015

False Covenant by Ari Marmell | Young Adult Fantasy | Book Review

Mulluane | 2:30 PM | 6 Comments so far
They claim, the oldest storytellers, that there is truth in legends. However, even they don't expect those legends to start creeping down walls and murdering innocents. But it shouldn't come as a surprise to anyone that Widdershins will find herself and her personal god Olgun caught up in a mystery straight out of nightmare. 

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It’s been over half a year, now, since the brutal murder of Archbishop William de Laurent during his pilgrimage to the Galicien city of Davillon. During that time, the Church of the Hallowed Pact has assigned a new bishop to the city—but it has also made its displeasure at the death of its clergyman quite clear. Davillon’s economy has suffered beneath the weight of the Church’s displeasure. Much of the populace—angry at the clergy— has turned away from the Church hierarchy, choosing private worship or small, independent shrines. And the bishop, concerned for his new position and angry at the people of Davillon, plans to do something about it.

But a supernatural threat is stalking the nighttime streets—a creature of the other world has come to infiltrate the seedier streets of Davillon, to intertwine its tendrils through the lower echelons of society. Faced with both political upheaval and a supernatural threat to its citizenry, the local representatives of the Church are paralyzed and the Guardsmen are in over their heads.

And then there’s Widdershins. Who’s tried, and failed, to stay out of trouble since taking over Genevieve’s tavern. Who’s known to the Church and the Guard both, and trusted by neither. Who may, with some of her Thieves’ Guild contacts, have unwittingly played a part in the bishop’s plans. And who, along with her personal god Olgun, may be the only real threat to the supernatural evil infesting Davillon.

*Blurb source *Pyr
False Covenant by Ari Marmell | Young Adult Fantasy | Book Review
Book Source: Contest Winner

Young Adult Fantasy Book Review by Mulluane

So much for Widdershins trying to live a normal life.
Not that having a god riding around in your head could be considered normal....

The Basics

Worldbuilding: I love the French Renaissance influence with hoop skirts and elaborate wigs for the ladies and for the men, vests, hose and tricorne hats. The city guards carry bash bangs (flintlocks with butts are made of bronze and not wood), but swords, daggers and rapiers are still the norm.

The political/secular climate however, is very much changed from what it was six months ago. The Church of Davillon is in disfavor with the mother church. Merchants are "encouraged" by the church to trade elsewhere, resulting in an economic disaster. The populace has distanced itself; church services are taking place in front of largely empty pews. The aristocrats are holding their money close, which adds fuel to the fire. The contentment which once fueled a vibrant economy has vanished. Mistrust runs rampant. Tempers run hot. Despair and fear become the norm.

And into the midst of all this instability creeps a horror straight out of legend and nobody is safe.

Magic: This time around there is more dark magic in play. And, with horrific consequences. Who would have thought that a little ancient spell, granted one not sanctioned by the church, but essentially harmless, would have led to such a nightmare.

New Characters: 
  • Bishop Sicard is an interesting character faced with a unique problem. He is the newly appointed Bishop of a city in distress. And he believes that it is his job to fix things, by any means possible.
  • Evard is a mysterious stranger will impeccable manners, and a desire for Widdershin's head on a platter.
  • Igraine Vernado, high priestess of the Shrouded God, patron god of the Thieves Guild (more commonly known as the Finder's Guild.) She knows that something is not quite right about Widdershins, and she is determined to figure out what.
  •  Iruoch. Sorry, can't tell you about him. Nope... not doing it. You'll have to read the book!
  • Remy, the new taskmaster of the Finder's guild. He is much nicer than the last one and one of my favorite characters.
  • Simon Beaupre aka Squirrel, thief, thug and nowhere near as good as he thinks he is. Hard to feel much sympathy for the guy until he gets mixed up in something that is way over his head. 
There are also some familiar faces from book one. Robin plays a much larger role. Both Renard the foppish thief and Major Julien Bouniard develop a deeper relationship with Widdershins. And lets not forget Olgun.

Plus there are plenty of other characters, both major and minor. There just isn't enough room to list them all.

My Synopsis

The Story: Poor Shins tries so hard to be "normal." Unfortunately for Shin's sake, trouble always seems to find her. And not just ordinary trouble --though she gets into plenty of that too-- no, the trouble I'm talking about is supernatural.

To complicate matters, the aura of distrust that has blanketed Davillon has wrapped itself around Widdershins too. Nobody trusts her; not the guard, not the church and not the Finders Guild. And yet, Shins must bring these three institutions together in order to save the city from a deadly threat.

But, if anybody can do it, Widdershins can. She is an expert at "If you can't dazzle them with brilliance, baffle them with BS."

My Opinions 

Thoughts: This series (and book) maybe categorized as YA but it certainly pushes that envelope. Marmell's history in writing horror shines brightly in this novel. Some of the violence is graphic to say the least and Widdershins may be in her teens but, outside of her naivety in regards to romance, she sure doesn't come across as a teen.

Fortunately, there is only a hint of romance, which actually endears me to the book. That alone makes this tale a refreshing change from most of the mature YA I've read in the past. I am continually amazed by this series!

As promised, there is no more time jumping. Nothing extreme that is. There is a bit of backwards and forwards as the spotlight changes between characters. But those jumps can be measured in days instead of years.

Favorite Phrase

Once again I had a favorite phrase. I'm not going to quote the entire thing, just the part where I almost spewed soda out my nose.

To put things into perspective; Widdershins is presently using her persona of Madeleine Valois, a beautiful young aristocrat who is attending a fete but in reality she is casing the manor for her next theft. She is approached by a woman who wants to grouse about how shabby things have become.

Madeleine--who wanted nothing more than to sigh and walk away, or perhaps smack the woman on the back of the head so hard that her eyes would sprout hair--instead pontificated about how right she was...

OMG I about died. I was not expecting the sentence to go in that direction and I got a sudden visual of what the poor woman would look like with hairy eyeballs. I'm still giggling.


Summary: Combining humor with horror has got to be a daunting task but Ari Marmell makes it look easy. Then he builds on that by adding in a liberal dose of tragedy, a dash of heroics, a quest for answers and the loyalty of good friends. The end result is a recipe for late nights and missed meals. Oh and a sore gut from laughing followed by a fight against tears.

This book was a rollercoaster ride of emotions with no hints of what to expect over the next rise and I loved every minute of it. Even the sad parts.

I do suggest reading these books in order. This is more a series of individual adventures as opposed to your typical epic saga which is one continuous story, but there is backstory you can only get from the previous book.

Highly recommended!

Ratings, Reviews, Similar Reads, Buy Books, Affiliate Links

False Covenant (Widdershins Adventures, #2)
Author: Ari Marmell
Cover Art: Jason Chan
Genre: Fantasy, Young Adult, Sword and Sorcery
Content: Magic, Gods, Mystery, Horror
ISBN 13: 9781616146214 
Publisher: Pyr (June 05, 2012)
Print Length: 281 pages
Kindle: False Covenant (Widdershins Adventure Book 2)
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Rating: 5/5 Stars

Already read the book? Please share your own opinion in the comments below!

Young Adult Fantasy Review of False Covenant by Ari Marmell - Reviewed by Mulluane on June 26 2015 - Rating: 5 of 5

Mulluane is a 56-year-old proud grandmother of 4, who is passionate about her pets, blogging, traditional fantasy, and tinkering with webdesign. She is obssesively photo shy but she uses an avatar that accurately represents her dreams. ♥ You can also find her on:

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Old Bat's Belfry - Witty Wacky and Wise Quotes


  1. The ending of this one killed me. But it also hooked me forever on this series, so there's that :)

    ~Mogsy @ BiblioSanctum

    1. The balance of dark and light is awe inspiring. You can literally go from laughing so hard it hurts to a profound sorrow that sticks with you for days after you read the book. (If not longer.)

      There are so many books that I pickup for a reread that I only vaguely remember. However, this book/series will forever remain clear in my mind.

      Well Done!

      And thanks Mogsy for dropping by :>)

  2. This series is totally new to me!! I think I should check them out!

    1. If you like laughter mixed with tears (more laughter than the latter,) and YA that treats you like you are an adult, I can't recommend these enough.

      Thanks for stopping by! I hope to see you here again in the future.

  3. Thank you for this blog it w. I found it was well put together and easy to read. I was just wondering what age would you say suits this best? Thank you again for this wonderful blog.

    1. These books are recommended for ages 12+ and 7th grade and up.

      Thanks for stopping by!


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