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The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan

The Gutter Prayer by Gareth Hanrahan
Book Name: The Gutter Prayer
Author: Gareth Hanrahan
Publisher(s): Orbit (US)
Formatt: Paperback / Audiobook / Ebook
Genre(s): Dark Fantasy
Release Date: January 22, 2019 (US) January 17, 2019 (UK)

Every once in a while, a book is released and it’s all everyone talks about. How great the story is, how rich the characters are, how the worldbuilding matched the dark tones and the originality of the story, etc. And, it was the author’s debut book! When I finally read (or, more accurately, listened) to The Gutter Prayer, it was easy to understand why the book received so many praises by word of mouth!

There are three protagonists: Cari, a young thief; Rat, a ghoul; and, Spar, a Stone Man. These misfits are members of the Thieves’ Guild, and when readers first meet them, they are breaking into a building in order to steal some documents on a job for the Guild. However, the job fails, and the trio are forced to go their separate ways. From there, Cari, Rat and Spar uncover corruption within the Thieves’ Guild, political conspiracies, family secrets, and factors of the ongoing war amongst gods, mages and alchemists. These three protagonists present readers with the narrative from their perspectives, their locations, and their stream-of-consciousness so we know all of what is happening within a short time frame.

The other characters are not limited to the role of secondary characters. They are just as complex and motivated as the protagonists. There is Heinreil, the current Guild’s leader, who has his own plans regarding the Thieves’ Guild and Spar; Jere, the thief-taker—or, bounty hunter—who is obsessed with capturing any member of the Thieves’ Guild; Professor Ongent and his son, Miren, scholars who have an unusual interest in Cari; Aleena, a mysterious woman with unusual ties to Cari; and, Eladora Duttin, Cari’s cousin, whom she has not seen since they were children. These characters are neither static, nor adhere to fantasy tropes. Instead, these secondary characters are as rounded and complex as the protagonists and the author allows them to develop alongside them throughout the narrative. This is a motley band of characters readers won’t forget anytime soon.

The Gutter Prayer not only engages the reader with all the characters, but also delivers a story that is immersive from the first pages. Every time I thought the story’s pace would slow down another event would occur that forced me to maintain my reading pace with the narrative. This story balances the problems of the world with the dilemmas each character is dealing with, in tandem. This is the reality found within the fantasy, how life challenges the living and doesn’t halt or slow down but continues to add up. All the characters can do is face the dilemmas and hope to get through them.

It’s hard to believe this is Gareth Hanrahan’s debut novel. Besides the characters and the worldbuilding, the author’s use of word choice and figurative language—especially allusion—reminds readers to pay attention to any small details found within the pages of the novel. The style provides clues and enriches the narrative at the same time. In addition, Hanrahan took tropes fantasy readers are familiar with and twisted our expectations by making us look at the characters as individuals instead of the group they identify with. For example, Rat is a ghoul, but he is no threat to Cari or Spar. Because our expectations are twisted, we are able to keep an open mind while reading the novel.

The story Hanrahan is trying to tell surrounds the ideas of desire and behavior. There are individuals who will do everything they can to gain power, even if it means mistreating others around them. And, there are individuals who go to great lengths either to invoke, or to prevent the end-of-the-world. No one survives these experiences unscathed but enduring the experience and remaining resilient reflects ideals readers should try to live by in their everyday lives.

The Gutter Prayer is a story in which Hanrahan found a way to draw out the grimdark aspects within the fantasy. Yes, fans of grimdark will enjoy this book the most, but it should not be missed by any readers and fans of the fantasy genre! If you know a fantasy fan who wants to read a different story, then tell them to read this book! They will not regret it! The dark and twisted narrative will leave readers craving more from Gareth Hanrahan! I’m glad the gossip about this book was validated. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year! Do not wait to read this book!



  1. And my TBR list keeps getting bigger and bigger. Awesome review!

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