A Dance Of Cloaks by David Dalglish book review

David Dalglish’s fantasy ebook sensation comes to print, with mixed results

Ask anyone who works in literature, from authors to publishers, and you’ll get conflicting reports regarding whether eBooks are a good thing.

However, one undeniable positive of the format is that they can occasionally put the power into the public’s hands. After he previously self-published his work online, David Dalglish’s A Dance Of Shadows is the first of four bestselling eBooks in the Shadowdance series to earn a physical publication.

Five years before the book kicks off in earnest, Thren Felhorn, a king among guilds of thieves, ignites a war with the Trifect – a three-tiered, medieval criminal cartel. The war goes virtually ignored by the ruling classes and violence escalates on both sides. Caught in the middle of it all is Thren’s son Aaron, a boy so immersed in thief culture that he first killed a man at the age of eight.

It is wonderful that Dalglish became a success virtually by word of mouth, but unfortunately there’s no accounting for the public’s taste.

Bizarrely, A Dance Of Cloaks reads like a fan-fiction story for a property that doesn’t exist.

There’s a reasonably sized cast of characters, all of who seem to act as if they’ve existed in the reader’s mind for years, and the plot kicks off surprisingly quickly. Yet nothing seems to carry any weight, and given that the setting is a war among criminals there are no genuinely heroic figures to root for.

The body count reaches the dozens by page 30, and the use of modern-day profanities is a bizarre choice that shatters the reader’s investment.

Dalglish shows no real writing flair, and there is little to invest in here. For those who are already fans, this is a welcome opportunity to add the Shadowdance series to their shelves in physical form.

Anyone else may struggle to understand what the appeal is in the first place.