In an old place of worship, there hangs a tapestry of dark portent.
In its cloth are stitched the histories, the lineage of a town on the marches between the merchant burgs and the untamed pagan wilderness – stories of ogres, and Wends; of strange creatures sewn in spidery black thread, and stunted men who hide beneath the ground; and the cursed blue-ringed eye, the ruin of all.
But all that is legend and folly, is it not?
When Aivars and his hex-anointed brothers of the Greysworn are called away to war against the pagans by their liege Luther the Bloodless, Zemyna finds herself left behind in their sleepy town. Heedless of the omens descried by the town’s rector and the tall tales woven into the tapestry, she is awakened one night by something straight out of nightmare and legend.
Under a pale moon she flees from the terrors that seem to have come from the very stories threaded in the cloth to afflict the benighted townsfolk, and through one endless night she discovers the secrets of the town’s troubled past. All manner of horrors usher out from the shadows to weave their own tapestry of terror and survival.
Plot/Idea: 7 out of 10
Originality: 8 out of 10
Prose: 8 out of 10
Character/Execution: 7 out of 10
Overall: 7.50 out of 10
Plot/Idea: Hill eschews the fantasy genre's bent for grandiose plots and fantastic quests, instead focusing his efforts on a harrowing journey of horror and survival, with a splintered approach to worldbuilding and a keen focus on character that keeps the whole affair exciting and fresh, even if the ending misses the landing a bit.
Prose: Hill's prose is well-crafted to the genre, while managing to balance the more flowery aspects against a need for energy—readers should delight in the page-turning aesthetic of the work.
Originality: Hill delivers something rarely seen in the fantasy genre—a narrative hewn from character, that only dabbles in the myth of plot, rejecting the tried-and-true quest for a much more compact journey that echoes the lore-making of video games like Elden Ring and Dark Souls.
Character Development/Execution: The characters of In A Black Tapestry manage to strike that difficult balance of feeling dimensional without swaths of exposition and over-exposure. Even side characters feel truly lived-in, even if they hardly stick around for a full introduction.
Date Submitted: May 10, 2022