September 13, 2020

Nicholas J. Evans: "Order of Dust" (ARC Review)

Title: Order of Dust  [on Amazon | on Goodreads]
Series: For Humans, for Demons (1st of 3 books)
Author: Nicholas J. Evans [Twitter | Goodreads]
Genres: Supernatural, Urban Fantasy
Year: 2020
Age: 16+
Stars: 2/5
Pros: Fresh spin on a supernatural trope. Tentative found family of humans and creatures.
Cons: Despite the action and the high stakes, it's nowhere near as exciting as one would expect (probably due to the lack of engaging prose). The characters aren't easy to connect with.
Will appeal to: Fans of classic revenge stories with a supernatural twist.

Blurb: Jackson Crowe is dead. Or, at least he was. After his death, he awoke in the North-Lane and found himself at the crossroads of life and the beyond. The higher beings gave him a choice: move on, through the North-Lane and into the universe for your next chapter. Or, return to earth and claim revenge. Now, Jackson is known as the Order of Dust, with the task of hunting the ones who take possession over human bodies and return them to the higher beings. Jackson, both grizzled and pained, looks to find who took his life, and the life of his love. To do this he will need his two pistols; one for humans, and one for demons. (Amazon)

Review: First off...DISCLAIMER: I requested this title from the publisher. Thanks to Parliament House for providing an ecopy. This didn't influence my review in any way.


For a book blogger, the only thing worse than not (thoroughly) enjoying a novel is not doing it when the novel in question has been provided by the publisher - even if in ecopy format, that is, with no expenses involved. For this reader, judging from the blurb, Order of Dust had at least two things going for it: the afterlife scenario and the Supernatural vibe. Of course, it's not like I expected it to be a rip-off of the TV show, and I would have been so pissed if it were - I'm talking about the general atmosphere here. (There are indeed certain elements in common - like the death of a loved one and the magic pistol - but they don't seem to be derivative, and even if they were, they would be more like starting points for Evans to create his own mythology). Anyhow, I can't even blame the blurb for making promises it didn't keep, because it was accurate...only, the execution didn't click with me. Mind you, the author created a word that, while building on some classic tropes and characters, is its own thing entirely. The equivalent of Heaven and Hell are working together (sort of), there are a female god and fierce female angels, and the main cast (if small) is quirky and potentially interesting. These are the things that Order of Dust has to its credit - though alas, they ended up not being enough for me. [...]


As I said, the premise has, indeed, something different to offer: not only (evil) souls who possess other people's bodies to achieve a di-facto immortality exist in plain sight, but there's also a black market where demons sell abductees to the highest bidder, for them to be inhabited by such foul creatures while they're still alive (and aware of the possession). Our protagonist, Jackson, is the latest in a long line of Orders - dead people who get the chance to be resurrected and stocked with what it takes to fight these body-stealers (the author calls them Un-Ascended) and the demons (and humans) involved in the market. He accepted the role hoping to be able to perform a personal vendetta against the demon who killed him, and - first and foremost - the woman he loved, so of course he's not supposed to be a happy camper; also, the Powers That Be have sent him back 19 years after the fact, in a body that has aged the same amount of years (why?), so, if you ask me, he has even more reasons to feel bitter. Still...I wasn't prepared for how gloomy this story would be, even when Jackson interacts with the creatures (and later, a formerly possessed man) who assist him in his task. It's true that they end up forming a found family of sorts, and there's some tentative humour, but everything comes across a bit dry, and the flashbacks about Jackson's sidekicks tend to be a tad too pedantic/spelled out for my tastes. I didn't manage to really care for any of them (except the only character who dies, of course 🙄), and frankly, reading became a chore for me.


I know we're not supposed to talk about typos and errors when we review ARCs, but honestly, I can't unsee the number of mistakes I came across, because they definitely tainted my reading experience. For one, it looks like OOD was originally written in present tense, and later the author decided to change it to past, because I lost count of all the times I found a verb in present tense in the middle of a sentence that was, altogether, written in past tense. I don't know how far into the editing process the publisher was when they decided to make ARCs available, but I can't believe that the very author didn't notice his mistake(s). Once or twice, it can pass; but a dozen times? Also, there were a number of misspellings (like "vein" for "vain" and "reticule" for "ridicule") and slightly awkward turns of phrase, your usual instance of "it's" for "its", and a whole sentence that didn't make sense whatsoever to me, until I realised that the author had thought he should replace "who's" with "that's" (because an "it" subject was involved), except the word he really wanted was "whose" (which, by the way, can be used both for people and inanimate objects). Now, I'm aware that everyone is using "who's" instead of "whose" back and forth these days, but it still means "who is", not "of whom/of which", though no one (not even writers) seems to care anymore. I do care though - and English isn't even my first language. Anyhow, I decided not to detract more than half a star from my rating because of these issues...but even without taking them into account, alas, the whole thing wasn't the pleasant experience I had hoped it would. Still kudos to Evans for creating a complex and potentially intriguing world, though for me, it didn't quite deliver.

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  1. Sorry this book didn’t work out for you! I know it can be hard reviewing an ARC that you didn’t enjoy. But I appreciate your honesty. It has a pretty cool cover though.

    1. I brought this upon myself LOL. Thank you!

  2. I get books from NetGalley sometimes and it doesn't matter to me where I get the book, if I don't like it, the review will reflect that. Sorry to hear that you didn't like this one.

    1. At least on NG you don't have a direct relationship with the publisher, so it's less awkward - but yeah, we all should strive for honesty, or why be book bloggers altogether?

      Thank you!

  3. Nothing worse than anticipating a book and it disappoints you. I commend you on finishing the book, because I would have quit. I read a LOT of eARCs, so I have grow accustomed to typos and formatting issues. They don't bother me. It's not the final copy, but I did get an ARC, recently, where there were no spaces between the words. Yeah. That was a no for me.

    1. I can understand typos, but bad grammar is a big NO for me.

      No spaces between the words?!? ALL the words? How on earth was one supposed to read it? LOL.


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