Title: Aching God (2018)
Author: Mike Shel
Series: Iconoclasts #1 (Series Tracker)
Aching God appeared on my radar after seeing several glowing reviews on the r/fantasy subreddit. Now, I don’t always connect with books that r/fantasy fawns over, but this was certainly not the case with Aching God, which is a thoroughly engrossing debut novel that I enjoyed immensely.
The book follows Auric Manteo, a retired mercenary, of sorts, who leads an expedition to return a cursed gem to the haunted temple from whence it came. It’s a straightforward story, but told in expert fashion. The writing is superb, which is not always a given in self-published fare. When a character referred to something as an “ensorcelled receptacle,” I knew that this was the right book for me. I expected a fairly simplistic dungeon quest tale, but it’s really so much more than that. Author Mike Shel has built out the world of Hanifax in rich detail and explores a great deal of the map with compelling encounters and fully-formed characters.
This is for anyone who enjoys dark fantasy and a well-told story. It’s certainly one of my favorite books of 2018 and I will be eagerly awaiting the next installment in the series, as Aching God builds a very solid foundation from which to jump off from. It feels like sword and sorcery Indiana Jones — and I’m very here for that.
★★★★¼ out of 5