Review :: A Pale Box on the Distant Shore by PJ Nwosu

Poppy Nwosu is one of my absolute favourite Aussie YA writers – you might have seen me rave about her #LoveOzYA books (I reviewed Taking Down Evelyn Tait here and Road Tripping with Pearl Nash here), and she was lovely enough to join me for a Christmassy chat last year too.

This year I’ve been so excited to see Poppy’s writing move into the dark adult fantasy space, writing under the name PJ Nwosu. Her first novel in this genre, Dream of Death City, will be book one in the Red Kingdom series and comes out in mid-November. Ahead of that launch, Poppy has released two prequels – a short story and a novella – both set in the Red Kingdom world, and both of which you can read for free. You can find out more about Pyres in the Long Night and A Pale Box on the Distant Shore here.

I jumped at the chance to read them and loved both, and today I’m sharing my review of A Pale Box on the Distant Shore, which is the novella. As I’ve mentioned above, you can get your eyes on this one for free – the ebook is available free across all retail stores – but I opted to buy myself a physical copy because look at how beautiful that cover is! I knew I would want a copy for my shelf.

What is PJ Nwosu’s A Pale Box on the Distant Shore about?

A silent killer stalks the slum towers of Death City. In the shadow of a drowned death god, a young soldier burns the dead.

To solve a violent crime, Soldier Honnan Skyin follows a bloody trail through the isolated Frontier and over the behemoth bones of a dead giant.

Some secrets should stay buried.

Welcome to Death City.

My review of A Pale Box on a Distant Shore by PJ Nwosu

I loved reading this! Nwosu creates such a vivid sense of place and atmosphere that had me feeling transported to her world every time I picked the book up, and it really has me looking forward to spending more time there when the novel, Dream of Death City, is released. I also thought the characters were really well written and felt complete very quickly – I was on Honnan’s side right away, and also particularly invested in the fates of his colleague Llewellyn and his Grandnannie.

I think the plot of the novella, with Honnan investigating the mysterious death of an infant, worked really well to showcase the physical world Nwosu has created, as well as giving an excellent introduction to the society, as Honnan’s investigations have him travelling and talking to all kinds of people. I felt like the plague element of the setting, with the black lung threatening Death City, added perfectly to the creepy vibes. I really like the way that as the reader I kind of felt like I had arrived in the Red Kingdom and not everything about the world is totally explained – I love that feeling when starting a new series of being somewhere a bit mysterious and looking forward to learning more about, for instance, death giant corpses and the Eleventh Daughter (if this kind of mystery isn’t your thing though, Nwosu has your back, with a full glossary – more about that below).

So, the novella itself was a great read – I found it engaging and immersive, and it really did its job of introducing me to this world and the people living in it, and I can’t wait to get back there for the novel. BUT Nwosu really takes the reading experience to the next level with the all the extra bits you can find on her website. There’s the map, and some artwork to help you picture the places and people, and a glossary for each book. My favourite thing though is the series visual guide that you get access to if you sign up for Nwosu’s newsletter (which is honestly such a fun look behind the scenes – I really look forward to it landing in my inbox!).

I mentioned above the cover of A Pale Box on the Distant Shore is gorgeous – I can’t resist also sharing a pic of the Dream of Death City cover, and the blurb as well…

Pale moths haunt an icy frontier. Beneath the shadow of a drowned death god, a frozen body is unearthed from the snow.

Investigators arrive to a superstitious island to solve a brutal crime. Among them is a lowly slave desperate to prove her worth and a soldier with dark dreams. Neither are prepared for what they find.

Death City is a strange and violent frontier, and no one who survives comes back clean.
First though, Thora and Diem must survive.

Welcome to the Red Kingdom.

Aaaah doesn’t that sound great? If you’re a fan of dark fantasy fiction I absolutely encourage you to check out this new series from PJ Nwosu – make sure you let me know if you read this one what you think!

xo Bron
***

A Pale Box on the Distant Shore by PJ Nwosu
Available now (for free!) across all ebook retail stores
Source: I bought myself a copy of this one, even though the ebook is available free, partly because the cover is so beautiful!
Category: Dark fantasy mystery fiction with medieval vibes

A Pale Box on the Distant Shore on Goodreads
Keep up with the latest from PJ Nwosu on her website here

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