A couple of months ago, I put out a tweet asking people where I should start with Ben Galley as I’d seen some good things about him. A few people came back, including Galley himself – his suggestion was to start with the Chasing Graves as it was the series he was most proud of. He then decided to DM me and said he’d be happy to send me a copy if I wanted to get started and you can’t say no to that! So it was only fair that I slotted his book to the top of my TBR when it arrived.
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Chasing Graves is a very unique book set in a world where once you die you are taken to an afterlife and depending on how you died, you may end up being sold into slavery – which is exactly what happens to Caltro Basalt, a master locksmith. Others around him strive to gain power in Araxes, this city he’s ended up in and it all culminates in quite an interesting read!
Chasing Graves plot – 3.75/5
The Chasing Graves plot is quite the interesting one – there are elements of it that are fascinating and some other elements of it that really seemed an odd choice by Ben. I think overall the plot felt like it was always building to something greater and it never really reached that level, unfortunately.
However, as I said, it kept me entertained throughout and had me intrigued as to what was going to happen next at all times. The writing was great too, adding both complexities but also great joy to it. Nothing in this book is taken too seriously and that is excelled by the way Galley writes.
Araxes the city that Galley has built is an interesting fictional world too with hierarchies, interesting political elements and what feels like a lot more to explore in the coming books.
One thing I have to say is that the ending was very underwhelming. In the same way that the whole book appeared to be building up to something larger, it didn’t then feel like the ending fulfilled that. If the rest of the book wasn’t so engaging, this could have been a really big point off of my final rating. It really felt like Galley had always intended this to be a series before he even finished this one and so left plot for the next book. I feel you should write every single book as their own novel, only leaving enough detail at the end to make you want a sequel.
Chasing Graves characters – 4.5/5
One of the absolute best things about Chasing Graves and something I’m convinced Galley has in his other books too is a good sense of humour. In fact, Castro himself is a bit of an arse but also one that you won’t be able to stop yourself from loving. He’s crass and doesn’t really take any sh*t from anybody but also has a kinder side (of course he does though, he’s the protagonist).
The other supporting characters however weren’t quite so fun. But they were believable, deep and “likeable” in the sense that I’m more than happy to keep reading about them in coming books. I feel like Castro was the main story throughout the book and I enjoyed reading his journeys and engaged with his story the most but I understand the need for the other stories too as Castro’s just wasn’t large enough to expand the world that Galley was trying to build.
Chasing Graves final rating – 4/5
Chasing Graves has a lot of potential but never felt like it ever properly got going. It also struggles with one great character and then some others that just aren’t as interesting. HOWEVER, Galley has created a fascinating world here with a protagonist whom you can’t help but love and who is building up to a height far grander than this first book ever reaches. I’m looking forward to continuing this series and exploring more of Galley’s work, I just wish this had had a better ending which would have made me instantly buy the sequel.
If you liked the sound of Chasing Graves, you might like my reviews of these other books: