Hello, everyone! Today I am reviewing The Spear Cuts Through Water by Simon Jimenez. This stunning fantasy adventure will be published on Tuesday, August 30. It was kind of a wild ride and unlike anything else I’ve read before, and I hope you will consider picking it up anywhere books are sold once it is released.
Two warriors shepherd an ancient god across a broken land to end the tyrannical reign of a royal family in this new epic fantasy from the author of The Vanished Birds.
ONE OF THE MOST ANTICIPATED BOOKS OF 2022—Tordotcom, BookPage, LitHub
The people suffer under the centuries-long rule of the Moon Throne. The royal family—the despotic emperor and his monstrous sons, the Three Terrors—hold the countryside in their choking grip. They bleed the land and oppress the citizens with the frightful powers they inherited from the god locked under their palace.
But that god cannot be contained forever.
With the aid of Jun, a guard broken by his guilt-stricken past, and Keema, an outcast fighting for his future, the god escapes from her royal captivity and flees from her own children, the triplet Terrors who would drag her back to her unholy prison. And so it is that she embarks with her young companions on a five-day pilgrimage in search of freedom—and a way to end the Moon Throne forever. The journey ahead will be more dangerous than any of them could have imagined.
Both a sweeping adventure story and an intimate exploration of identity, legacy, and belonging, The Spear Cuts Through Water is an ambitious and profound saga that will transport and transform you—and is like nothing you’ve ever read before.
***Thank you to Del Rey for providing a copy of the book via NetGalley. My review contains my honest thoughts about my reading experience.***
I’m honestly at a loss for words when thinking about how to describe this book and my experience reading it. So, I guess I’ll just start at the beginning. For the first quarter or so, I did not like this book AT ALL. I considered DNFing it multiple times because I had no idea what was happening. The story has a very unique structure that utilizes first, second, and third person narration without much to mark the different voices apart. It took me forever to realize the story (told in third person) was being watched by someone (the second person narrator) in a theater during a dream with occasional narrative input from people the characters met along the way (first person). Knowing this going in would have greatly reduced my confusion and improved my reading experience of the first part of the book. So, you’re welcome. 🙂 I was probably just too dense to figure it out, but in case you’re dense too, I saved you the effort. lol.
Once I discerned what was going on, I quickly fell in love with the story. The prose was stunning and had a lyrical quality that kept me glued to the pages. The world came alive and seemed to leap into being as if I was the one in the dream. The plot consistently surprised me, and I was incredibly impressed with the author’s ability to create a complex, moving story with so many different parts and voices. The pace also picked up considerably once everything got under way at approximately the 25% mark, and it became relentlessly more intense with a wide assortment of adventures filled with violence, magic, mind-reading, and a bit of humor. There was even a good deal of cannibalism, which seriously made my skin crawl. By the end, I was in awe of how it all came together, with even seemingly small details from earlier in the narrative being tied together in ways I never expected.
I became very attached to the characters, which was probably a bad idea given the intense levels of violence in this book. They were all vibrant and multi-faceted, and I especially loved how the author managed to make even the minor side characters seem well-rounded and deep despite some of them only having a few scenes. I enjoyed following the main duo on their adventure and began rooting for them pretty early on in the story. Their slow-burn romance was one of my favorite things about the book, and it led to some pretty hilarious scenes involving mind-reading. My other favorite character was the tortoise. I’m not going to say too much about him because of spoilers, but I absolutely adored him. He made me smile every time he spoke despite his unfortunate circumstances.
One of the main themes about the book was acceptance/belonging. Most of the characters were outcasts in their own way and were driven to some extent by their longing for connection and inclusion. So many of the stories were absolutely heart-breaking, especially the Third Terror. On a related note, most of this narrative revolved around a love story, and I don’t just mean the central slow-burn romance of Jun and Keema. Almost every character was motivated by love (not necessarily romantic), either the desire to obtain it or the anger from being spurned. It beautifully highlighted both the redeeming and destructive powers of love.
This book was an absolutely stunning work of art. I’ve never read anything quite like it before. It used common tropes in unique ways to tell a story that felt simultaneously familiar and fresh. It felt profound while reading it even though I couldn’t quite put my finger on why, and the more I think about it now, the more lessons and themes jump out at me. The story was beautiful, and it is one I will think about for a while to come. Therefore, I rate it 5 out of 5 stars.