They have been called warlords, necromancers, demon-worshipers, torturers, and monsters. The Sangrooks ruled half the world before they were defeated, but they were not eradicated. The menace of the Sangrook clan lives on, and the morbid history of this cursed family unfolds across seven doomed lives.
The Sangrook Saga is a fantasy novel which is quite different from the usual fare.
Rather than one continuous story, it is instead 7 separate short stories which tell the tales of different members of the Sangrook family through the years. This is a horror/grimdark novel (I’m not exactly sure where the line between them lies), and so there’s a fairly oppressive tone throughout. When you read the stories, you are aware that they are eventually going to take a turn for the worse. But it’s the how that keeps things interesting.
Details about the Sangrooks and their magic are drip-fed to the reader, without the need for long infodumps or explicit explanations. Steve Thomas has faith that his readers have the ability to make the connections between the stories, and it’s rewarding to make those connections yourself, rather than having them spelled out for you.
You start off knowing that the Sangrooks are reviled. That they are known for necromancy, demon-worship, and war. But the mechanics of their magic, their motivations, their place in the larger world… these are things that are slowly revealed to you throughout the course of the book. Decades might pass between each tale, but the overarching story of the Sangrook clan links them all together. If you ever played one of those little tile games as a kid—where you slide the tiles around the grid until they form a full picture—The Sangrook Saga feels like that in novel form.
Only, y’know, with a lot more death, and torture, and all that good stuff.
I did have a few complaints. Being a reader who loves his characters, the format of this novel didn’t really match my tastes. Each story follows a different set of characters, and so I wasn’t able to really connect with any of them. There was also a little bit of male gaze. While horrible things happened to both the male and female characters (hooray for equal opportunity torture!), a bunch of the female characters ended up in situations which merited descriptions of their breasts.
But there is also a lot to like about this book. I’m not usually a fan of horror, but I found myself enjoying these stories. The prose is quite atmospheric, clean, and very readable. The stories are interesting, spooky, and exciting. The Sangrook Saga is self-published, but I would not have been surprised to hear that it was traditionally published—it’s certainly of that quality.
If you’re a fan of darker fantasy and horror, or like the idea of reading smaller pieces of a larger story, I’d suggest that you check it out.