I think this leaned more towards horror for me than fantasy, the murders in this book were very graphic and chilling. I had to pause every so often before I could move on. The idea is very genre-bending : in a midieval castle setting with fantasy elements thrown in (ghosts, magic items, a curse), the head of security Dubric has to use primitive forensics and detective work to determine who the serial killer in the castle is. As a sub-story there is a romance between a poor chambermaid and a young noble. A very gritty tale with a lot of hard characters in it. Siler Jones is sparing with her character's backstories, it takes chapters into to find out why so-and-so feels strongly about something, and it also takes that long to understand the hierarchy in the castle and to understand more about the world and religions in it. I suppose that is just good world building, though I feel almost like the story could have begun earlier in some aspects. I also felt some frustration at the mob mentality in the book and how everyone was quick to blame head of security Dubric for not finding the killer and how he got very little respect in a stressful job. Again - kudos to the writer for making me respond emotionally. Anyway, recommended if you would like to try a book that is not formalaic.
A FANTASTIC book. I cannot believe this is a first novel. While not perfect (thus the 4.5 rating), it is a great read. Yes, there's flaws, but still, wonderfully done, some neat characters. Like most mysteries, it's not really a strength of the novel that the mystery really isn't laid out that well, and the main suspect isn't the guilty party, but you're not reading it for that.. you're reading it for the characters.
I enjoyed this book. It had great characters -- Dubric is just fascinating. I can't imagine a worse fate for a good, dedicated cop than to be haunted by the ghosts of the murder victims whose cases he hasn't been able to solve yet. And to see an admittedly fairly typical serial killer story set in a fantasy world where no one has ever heard of a serial killer before, a world where the concept just doesn't exist -- that was a stroke of genius.
Unfortunately, the descriptions of the murders and what the killer did with the bodies was a little too graphic for my tastes. I didn't think I was particularly squeamish, but yuck! Too much for me. But your milage may vary.