Vigor Mortis (volume 1), written by Natalie Maher (Thundamoo), is aptly described as “light-hearted existential terror” by the bit at the end of the book by the publisher, and I couldn’t sum it up better. What you get is a fantastical world of floating islands filled with magic and monsters and a dark look into the soul with hard choices to be made. Beneath it all is the Mistwatcher, a many-eyed, many-tentacled god best left unseen.
Vita, the heroine of the story, is a staving orphan just trying to get by. She lives with her “family” of other street rats, trying desperately to stay alive by any means. Born into a world where magic can either be gifts of the god that are handed out to the lucky few or may be learned over time, Vita is blessed with an extremely rare gift. One that isn’t supposed to exist.
Her indomitable spirit and zest for life make this a really fun adventure, and we get to experience every awkward moment Vita does as she tries to come to grips with her new power. Along the way, she meets Penelope, a somewhat spoilt rich kid with obvious disdain for the likes of Vita. This pairing reminds me a lot of the books of Cinnamon Bun by Ravensdagger, but the main character is not so over-the-top sweet yet honestly a good person.
Narration by Jessica Almasy was excellent but let down a tiny smidge by post-production. Odd gaps in the flow of the reading tripped me up a few times. Unnaturally long pauses between connected sentences. Not enough to really worry about, but enough to make a note of while I was listening.
This was an enjoyable adventure, and I’m glad to see there’s another book in the series just waiting for me to drop a credit on it. There’s a lot going on in the world built by Maher, with the major story arc of the book wrapped up nicely with enough loose ends to give us hints of things to come later.