Kay’s Hidden Shelf’s Review of The Soul’s Instrument by Mark Halloway
Publication Date: 28 May 2022
Series: Book 2 in The Aspect Series (see our review of Book 1 here)
Rating: 4.5 Stars
Kehlem the Butcher. Hero. Villain. A pale ghost that haunts the empire, or righteous revenant of Casere. Titles thrust upon him that he had no desire to bear, charged by the Aspect itself to end the Vin Empire. And yet his only true desire is to get to Mercy before the empire, to salvage his only chance at redemption.
But change is coming. He can feel it in the crushing weight of his waking nightmares. See it in the uprisings in the empire. Hear it in the hushed rumours of assassinations.
The Aspect demands retribution. Balance. Where there was Order, now comes Chaos.
Review of The Soul’s Instrument
With how The Soul’s Aspect (book one) left off, I was eager to jump into this sequel. Let me say, Mark Holloway did not disappoint and avoided the pitfalls of the sequel slump. I was hooked from the first chapter! The Soul’s Instruments balanced great character work/arcs, pacing, action, twists, along with endearing and gripping scenes. I can’t forget to mention the elements of horror that gave me chills.
We also get more exploration of the characters and their relationships. Khelem in particular gets great development as we see him mature from the boy we first met. There’s also the return of some familiar faces, each getting their own voice and arc. I loved getting to know these characters better and seeing how their roles impacted the plot.
In terms of worldbuilding, the characters travel more while two countries struggle for control. The magic system also gets further exploration adding depth to both areas. Aside from the character arcs, the developments to the magic system were compelling and impacted the story in a meaningful way. Making it a standout aspect to the book.
Now it’s always a joy to see an author’s writing skills improve and this was no exception. Mark Holloway also managed to pull off a duality in the role that love plays and the extents someone will go for those they cherish.
From the atrocities of war, religious conflicts, PTSD representation, the impacts of vengeance and insanity, this was packed with moments of surprise, intense battles, and satisfying payoffs.
By the time I finished the book, I needed book 3 in my hands. A fantastic page turner and series I’d recommend for anyone looking for their next epic read.