The Crimson Script by SJ Hull – A Book Review

The Crimson Script


Abys-Luthil is a city that stands upon the brink of civil war. Its halls of power darken with growing plots, and rival gangs terrorise its aged streets. Criminals raid stately homes in search of arcane artifacts, as the city’s nobles withdraw behind their household guards.

Within this city of masks and deceit, Lyra Alpheri moves between the shadows, hunting those who would prey upon the weak. By day she returns to a life of civilised nobility, as the daughter of the renowned magister, Maellon Alpheri. Aided by her friend Kat, and the master of the arcane forge, Virgil, Lyra swiftly brings justice to those who plague the streets. However, it is not long before the political upheaval of Abys-Luthil’s scheming magisters brings trouble to her own home, and after the very fabric of her world is ripped from under her feet, Lyra descends into the city’s depths to wreak a terrible vengeance.

In a journey that runs thick with blood, betrayal and otherworldly power, Lyra walks the darkest of paths, one which soon tests mind, body and soul. But, as the bodies mount, is Lyra in danger of becoming the very evil which she so desperately fights against?

Author: SJ Hull

Publisher: Self-Published

Release Date: 09/02/2021

Pages: 344

Genre: Fantasy

My Chosen Format: Kindle

My Rating of ‘The Crimson Script’: 3 out of 5

Purchase: Amazon


I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.

The Crimson Script is a tale of two halves. The latter half is fun, fast-paced, action-packed and a lot of interesting stuff is revealed. The first half is everything the second half wasn’t. It started out with promise but very quickly it became bogged down in unnecessarily large info dumps (these would go on for pages every time a new character or place name was introduced and really took me away from the story). Another aspect that sucked me away from the plot the author was trying to tell, were the impossibly long conversations. Conversations that either added very little to the plot or simply went on for upwards of three or four pages at a time with the sole aim of giving the very preachy characters a chance to get very preachy.

The info dumps were culled as the book ploughed on into the second half, but the incredibly long conversations were not. Nor was the preachy nature of the characters. It became a tad grating and made it hard to see where one characters thoughts and ideals stopped and another’s begun.

The action, as mentioned before, was fast-paced and incredibly fun. SJ Hull is very talented where writing such scenes is concerned. I also really enjoyed the artificer aspect of the world being created. I felt it was a far nicer touch than just out and out magic that so many fantasy novels just throw in because, in this day and age, you can’t have swords without sorcery. So the thought gone into the artificing was wonderful.

Another slight critique of the Crimson Script would be that I felt it was all main plot with next to no sub plots. The book felt quite long because of this and certain things just happened, mostly because certain characters had arranged for it behind the scenes, but we were never given any insight or explanation other than ‘I’ve been talking to a few people’. It would have been nice to have more of a look into the machinations of the story beyond Lyra and her murder hobo character development. Yes, I get that she suffered and incredibly traumatic experience, but the sheer speed at which she goes from a polite vigilante who gets knocked on her arse in training, to a borderline murderous psychopath who has no equal in combat was just a tad fast. I’m not a fan of stories where I never feel like the main characters have a chance of failure and, with the Crimson Script, none of the characters ever felt like they came close to failure. Personal loss is great and needed for character development, but so is fallibility. 

The story became a lot more addictive nearer the latter stages, a testament to the pace and enjoyment of the action scenes (plus the revelations being unveiled), I just feel like the negatives mentioned above, for me at least, held it back from ever being something I could truly sink my teeth into.

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