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What man could change his fate?

William Shakespeare once said: “It is not in the stars to hold our destiny but in ourselves.”
Well, in Black Monastery , William Stacey took it one step further, as he showed us that, not only can a man decide his own destiny, but he can also turn the tables to his favor, even when it seems “fated” that he fails to do so.

Asgrim Wood-Nose, a Viking war band leader with a hideous face – thanks to a past duel – has killed the wrong person. In order to be able to return home, he has to pay a rather high wergild. Saracens tell him of a treasure in silver being kept at a Frankish monastery, so he sails to the island on which said monastery is located, ready to plunder and be done with it. But something dark and sinister that was kept captive there has been freed – a demon that “wears” its human victims like shirts. It’s looking for a new vessel – and Asgrim is just the man it needs. Will the Viking Captain escape what seems to be his fate? Together with Alda, a Frankish woman declared witch by her people, he strives to survive, defeat the evil pursuing him – and avenge the deaths it caused.

I admit I was a bit sceptical when I first started reading this book. It started in an explosive manner, and got me hooked, then it somehow slowed down and got into so many details, I feared I was tricked by the cover and the blurb into believing it would be good. Turns out, Mr. Stacey is quite the tricky writer! He gets a reader hooked, then lulls them into a false sense of slow pace and security – a lethargic state, if you will. And, just when your head starts to fall forward, and you feel that familiar drowsiness that comes with boredom, he violently shakes you awake, shoves your face as close to the text as possible, and leaves it there! And do you pull your head back once it’s free to do so? No, sir, not at all! Because at that point, you’re busy trying to keep up with Asgrim, who turned out to be a delightful main hero! (and who I dare say deserves a spot in GR’s list for misshapen heroes in romance!)
You’re right there, by his side or hiding behind his broad back, and really, it’s not like you can help it! Not only because youneed to see for yourself whether things will finally look up for him, but also because the story itself tosses you in the middle of the most dangerous, scary, and intriguing adventure, where youmust keep reading in order to take a breath. Stacey’s writing is so good, he manages to cause a reader all sorts of emotional outbursts – and believe you me, there are a lot of those, and of any kind, in this story.

Apart from the careful world building, the main characters were quite something, too. Each of them broken in their own way, yet they manage to mend each other’s “scars” in the most beautiful of ways. The romance was fitting, believable, and never took the storytelling off the main plotline. It came naturally, and was every bit HOT and yet ADORABLE! I never thought I would see the day where I would suggest to female authors to take a look and study the way a man has developed a love story. Balanced in all its aspects, with a hero and a heroine that are far from perfect as individuals, but manage to reach complete perfection when together. A love story that survives despite the boundaries of different languages, races and religious beliefs – it only goes to show that Mr. Stacey wrote what is really important to make it work, and that’s what is inside!

So, still wonder what man could change his fate?

He could.



***I was given a review copy from a LibraryThing Member Giveaway in exchange for an honest review. The opinion stated in this review is solely mine, and no compensation was given or taken to alter it.***