Editorial Review: Jaga's Bones by Simon McHardy
Jaga’s Bones is a fast-paced and darkly violent fantasy horror with an intriguing premise.
Jaga is unexpectedly abandoned and forced into the necromantic cult The Sisters of Gloam, whose neophytes are generally the lowest of life’s cast-offs. We follow Jaga through her trials – which not many survive – and discover more than ever about the horrifying world she has been thrown into.
Her temple sisters are less than desirable, the sisterhood is a dumping ground for those who do not fit society – the violent, viciously cruel, and morally depraved. Arla is the one bright spot in this cast of undesirables, though she nearly doesn’t make it through the trials thanks to her empathy and compassion – characteristics not valued by the sisterhood. With necrophiliacs and sadists in charge, The Sisterhood is not a place for anyone with soft values, with the sisters killing innocent people in order to raise and control them.
The Sisters of Gloam serve him in their role as necromancers, raising and controlling the dead. Surviving the trials does not lead to a life of happiness, at least not for Jaga who is not interested in necrophilia or murder.
Taron is a farmer, crippled and disinclined to kill more than rodents with his fathers’ demonic axe with anger issues. It falls to him to save his homeland from the invasion of The Sisters of Gloam. Readers follow the developing stories of these characters, and how they interweave with the fate of their world.
Simon McHardy pulls no punches in his graphic description of the violent and unsettling world he’s built. The characters shine through the dark, even the nasty ones. Though it must be said that this story needs to come with several content warnings for graphic violence and sexual content – those with a sensitivity towards those themes should take note. However, the story itself is enough to bring those readers who can stomach the violence along.
Complementing the story are the characters, who are developed keenly and on their own terms. The dark humor weaving through the story is strong, and there are genuinely funny moments.
Though the content of Jaga’s Bones is incredibly dark, the story itself is interesting and well written. The dark humor rendered by McHardy is impressive, along with undeniably memorable lore, the world Jaga inhabits catches the imagination of the reader.
Jaga's Bones is a fast-paced and darkly violent story with an intriguing premise. McHardy has created a cast of strong characters to pull the plot along.