Grayden: The Secret of Illryn by L.K. Evans

by Justine Bergman

My Rating: 3

SERIES: Standalone
PUBLISHED: July 1, 2019 (Self-published)
PAGES: 267
GENRE: Dark Fantasy



One god created the ultimate power, another the ultimate betrayal. Two kingdoms at war, with one man cursed to end it all.

From across the Blood River, the kingdom of Vard watches with disgust as their enemy, Eadom, feeds its children to the necrophites. Since before histories were recorded, Vard has sought to free Eadom’s children from their horrific fate, but have only seen defeat. Until now. The church has finally recovered a dreadful power stolen from them years ago, a power that can liberate Eadom’s children, a power never before seen in Illryn. The power lives within a man named Grayden, but he’s known as the Executioner.

With no memory of his childhood before the age of ten, Grayden has been conditioned to fulfill his destiny. Living with the silence from the god that created him, he endures doubt even as he is driven by righteous purpose toward his fate.

As Grayden ventures deeper into Eadom, memories begin to lighten the dark corners of his mind. It is here, in the heart of the enemy, that he comes face to face with his own doom and the betrayal that led to it. The truth is always known by at least one.


ALSO REVIEWED AT: Fantasy Book Critic, Goodreads

That first chapter, though. I mean, nothing like introducing your reader to a world where a man magically severs tongues and melts flesh from bone with a mere thought and flick of the wrist. I have to admit, that scene was glorious. *insert ‘I seen some sh*t’ emoji*

Grayden: The Secret of Illryn is a compelling story of persuasion and deceit governed by magic, gods, and the arduous journey of finding the truth. The general concept Evans conveys of a gifted person being used as a puppet by both the church and state for their own conflicting needs was one that really appealed to me, and one that was definitely executed well. As the story continues on, Grayden begins to access repressed memories, and I feel this gradual unlocking of secrets hidden within the dark corners of his mind is a brilliant engine for worldbuilding. The additional thread of an ongoing battle between gods infused a whole new layered depth to Grayden’s mysterious past, that which unravels before us in a stunning fashion.

I thoroughly enjoyed the majority of this book, and believed we were on course for a solid grimdark tale of vengeance filled with hyper-violent stabby moments and reprisal. Oh, I got plenty stabby moments – however, I felt there was a turning point where the story began to stray from the established tone – the darkness of retribution to the dawn of redemption, if you will. And while Krowen is one of the most incredible and wonderfully developed characters I’ve become acquainted with lately, Grayden’s transformation felt a little too abrupt, leading to an unfortunate disconnect I wasn’t expecting. There’s something special about this world Evans has created, I just hoped the story would stay true to the roots it sprouted from.

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