#SPFBO Finalist | Symphony of the Wind – Steve McKinnon

About the Book

A bounty hunter with a death wish. A girl with fearsome powers. A kingdom on the brink of destruction.

Serena dreams of leaving her harsh desert home behind in her very own airship. But when an assassin’s knife meant for Serena kills her friend instead, the rebellious orphan ventures into the corrupt heart of Dalthea to discover who put a price on her head. With each new turn, she edges closer to uncovering the awful truth… And the mystical powers brewing deep within her.

After his fiancée’s death, soldier-turned-bounty hunter Tyson Gallows is eager to sacrifice his life in the line of duty. When a foreign enemy assassinates a high-ranking official, he vows to bring them to justice. On the hunt for a killer, Gallows exposes a sinister plot that proves his fiancée’s death was no accident.

Driven by revenge, Serena and Gallows must join forces to take down the conspiracy before the kingdom falls to ruin.

Symphony of the Wind is the first book in a gritty epic fantasy trilogy. If you like hardened heroes, steampunk airships, and dark magic and monsters, then you’ll love Steven McKinnon’s visceral adventure.

660 pages (paperback)
Published on May 4, 2018
Author’s webpage
Buy the book

This is a finalist for the SPFBO.

Symphony of the Wind is one of those books that is impossible to pin down. It’s funny, but it’s serious. It’s steampunk, but it’s not. It’s got some sort of post-apocalyptic vibe, but it’s not that. It’s military but…

You get what I’m driving at, right?

I tend to really love books that don’t quite fit anywhere (Hell, I kind of wrote one.). There’s something that really appeals to me about being neither one thing, nor another, but managing to straddle a bunch of lines quite gracefully. McKinnon manages that quite well with this book. It’s not quite one thing, it’s absolutely not another. Symphony of the Wind is its own animal.

It took me a little time to get into this book, but once things got going, they really moved at a fast clip. There’s a lot of action in this book. There are chases, and battles, and a ton of things happening all the time. The action, however, is so well done. I have to admit, I tend to zone out during battle or fight scenes. It’s not that I don’t like them or appreciate them, but I have a hard time knowing the difference between (insert this thrust with a fancy name here) and (insert that blocking move with a fancy name here).

McKinnon managed to get me to remain engaged in these scenes, these fights and battles and this relentless sequence of action. Somehow, he humanized it, and made it relatable and interesting.

There’s a lot to poke at in this book, but I’m really reluctant to say anything too specific about it. The reason is, I think discovery is half the fun, and I really don’t want to give anything away. I will say that the world building was really well done. Other than a section or two that felt like an info dump, the world itself was introduced to readers at a nice pace throughout the novel. Essentially there was a large bomb that killed thousands of people, and now Dalthea is a chaotic mix of people all trying to survive. Into this tense stew, are a handful of characters.

I really loved the character development as much as I loved the world building. There are two main characters that are followed throughout the book, Serena and Tyson Gallows. However, there is quite a wide range of individuals readers will be introduced to. What amazed me about the characters is how nearly all of them managed to be well-rounded, thoughtfully developed, and had their own unique voices, no matter how long they were on stage. It was incredibly engaging, and no small accomplishment for McKinnon to write each individual as an individual. This made each storyline, no matter how back burner it may be, feel important to me.

The plot is fast paced, as I mentioned above, and the writing was flowing and easy to engage with. This is the first book in a series, but I found the ending to nicely tie things up, with enough left dangling for next books in the series. While there will be a wait for future books, I don’t think you should wait to enjoy this one.

Symphony of the Wind was a book that really surprised me. Not quite one thing, not another, this book stands as a work all its own, refusing to bend to genre norms or modern-day fantasy conventions. Characters that leap off the page, and a plot that refuses to quit just make the 660 pages of this book pass in a blink. Fantastic writing is the cherry on top of the sundae. Is it perfect? No. But it’s damn close.

And perfect is boring.

4/5 stars

(SPFBO rating of 8/10)

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