Benjamin Aeveryn is an author of SFF from Cambridge, UK, where he lives with his beautiful fiance and a grumpy old cat. People have described his Rainfallen series as a dystopian fantasy, but for a vision of England where it’s always raining, infrastructure is crumbling, and nobody trusts their neighbours, he only has to look out of his window. This is Salt in the Wound;
Disclaimer: I was given an ARC of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. Mild Spoilers ahead; I will do my best to avoid plot-sensitive information in this review, but that isn’t guaranteed.
Salt in the Wound; Our world is lost to time. Only our myths remain. Once rain was a symbol of hope and harvest. Now it brings only death. Humanity survives in sheltered cities and canvas-covered towns. Travel between these patches of safety is rare and dangerous.
It’s what Galahad lives for. But while seeking a lost cache of salt—a fortune he plans to use to build a shelter over his hometown—Galahad is betrayed by the friends he holds dearest.
They leave him for dead. Unfortunately for them, he lives. Torn between seeking justice or revenge, Galahad knows one thing for certain: that treasure is his, and he’ll do anything to reclaim it.
Book Cover: The cover is very nice. The focus of a young man kneeling on the ground kneeling while holding his sword in one hand and having piles of pink salt falling out of his other hand, all while in the ruins of a crumbling cathedral gives you a great first impression.
Salt in the Wound – Setting: In Post-apocalyptic England, creatures known as Rainwights have inhabited the earth, devouring anyone who is caught in the rain, meaning that people have to live under Tarps or plastic shelling as their only forms of protection, thankfully the people in this world were more responsible with storing their knowledge, as many books survive in this world, including King Arthur and the knights of the round table. (spoilers) The book also introduces magic seemingly that’s been around for centuries but long forgotten, it’s barely explored in this book, only featured in our main character, though it’s more passive rather than an active magic (I won’t spoil, but its revealed early what Galahad has).
Overall the setting is good, with the Rainwights, anything like cares or new buildings are improbable, as the wights than eventually pry that stuff apart, they do struggle with synthetic materials, hence tarps and plastics acting as a shield from the rain.
I would like to see more in depth analysis of the Rainwights in future books, as they are only loosely explained, maybe future books will delve into their origin, I initially only dismissed them as a less horrible version of ‘Timefall’ from Death Stranding. (Because being aged to death is much worse than being torn apart quickly.) But I think there could be more to them, but time will tell.
Another thing that could be nice is further explanation about how certain animal species evolved into what they are, if not an explanation a larger variety of strange and wonderful creatures.
Salt in the Wound – Plot: The main story is a story about revenge for one character and moving on for another, after Galahad (Nickname, not his real one) finds the Precious salt that was seemingly valuable enough to buy enough plastic to shield his hometown. He gets stabbed in the back (literally) by his friends Percival, Gwen and Lance. He somehow survives (Won’t go into how, its gradually explained.) Realising he has a second chance at getting revenge against who he believes is the architect of the plot. Overall, it’s a very cliché betrayal story, with a very good swerve of who actually tipped them off, but that doesn’t mean it’s bad, the fact I read the book fully through and really enjoyed speeding through waiting to see what our main protagonist will do.
The other main POV character is Fay, a friend from the same group, who is struggling to recover from her addictions, eventually going back out into the wilderness on the promise of coin to find a noble along with a beast that’s terrorising the Cotswolds.
I do look forward to seeing what happens in the future, with Galahad, Fay and most of all Elaine, but time will tell.
Salt in the Wound – Characters: The main character Galahad started out being hopeful and optimistic to the point of naivety in this post-apocalyptic setting, though you do see his character develop as the story progresses, Elaine is also a good best friend, who has her own major flaw, both physical and a secret that’s not revealed till much later in the story.
There is also a long dead character called ‘The Long-haired Priest’ who is very much the driving force of the plot at the start, it’s his salt you find, along with a sword and a mysterious brown liquid that Galahad and Elaine call whiskey.
It does a very good job of going into the back story of Galahad, the good times he had with all his friends, the relationships he had with his parents. The core motivation of him wanting the salt. I would’ve liked more back story on Fay and Elaine, but Benjamin may explore this in the sequel.
Salt in the Wound – Overall: this is a very good debut novel, it the spots it leaves lacking does make me want to see more in the sequels, which to me is a win for a book. A book that leaves you wanting more is much better than a book that left me not caring about what happens, or not wanting to know.
I would recommend reading this if you’re a modern fantasy fan, who likes dark or post-apocalyptic settings, Benjamin Aeveryn clearly put a lot of effort into this. As I write this review, the book will be released in a few hours on 9th May 2023, available on Amazon for the Kindle here. – 8/10