Scar Night by Alan Campbell (Deepgate Codex Trilogy: Book 1)

7/10 A highly visual novel full of darkness, angels, vampires, murder, destruction and poison.

Scar Night features a world suspended by chains over a seemingly bottomless chasm. Only through life and death will you finally discover what lies beneath this dark world as the God Ulcis and the souls of the dead are waiting for you below. This ancient city of Deepgate is home to Dill, the last in a line of Angels, who is under the protection of the presbyters, a part of the Church which runs the city. There is also a Spine assassin named Rachel Hael and a psychotic vampiric angel and dangerous murderer called Carnival. When an enemy comes to Deepgate these three form an uneasy alliance and step into the chasm to save the City.

As a keen reader in the past there have been times when I have struggled to finish a book. I put it down to my concentration. However, it was not until I began to review books that it became obvious that it was what I was reading. Unfortunately I had a similar feeling while reading Alan Campbell's' opening book in the Deepgate Codex Trilogy. That is not to say it is a bad book. It just missed one or two ingredients for me.

That said the author has created a wonderfully dark and visual world in his writing, and has imbued the book with a rich and vividly satisfying atmosphere throughout. This is its strongest point. It is also its weakest point as it is given too much focus, and initially makes it difficult to get into the book. The idea of the storyline sounds intriguing and inventive and as such should have provided a strong novel with Alan Campbell's ability to create such a vivid impression. It just lacks a few vital ingredients. It starts off slowly and it took a while to get the characters motivations up and running. The writing seems to centre on the world's setting and the character of Dill seemed to go nowhere in the first third of the book as he did nothing but stare out at this dark world. I also felt that the angel Dill could have been written with more depth and hopefully his character will be expanded in the latter books. There are some interesting characters through the book notably Mr Nettle, whose actions I particularly enjoyed. As to rest the pacing of the story could have been improved upon, and only really picked up in the last third of the book.

In conclusion, it is a highly visual novel full of darkness, angels, vampires, murder, destruction and poison. It just lacks flow and centres itself too much on setting a scene. Many of the ideas are undeveloped and the writing and editing will need improvement on future books.  Characters and the pacing of the storyline will also need more focus. This could be put down to it being the author's first book. I will definitely finish the series with the hope that Alan Campbell's writing style will improve and a balanced approach taken to all the aspects of telling a story.

Review by

1 positive reader review(s) for Scar Night


Alan Campbell's Deepgate Codex Trilogy series

Scar Night

Deepgate Codex Trilogy: Book 1

Iron Angel

Deepgate Codex Trilogy: Book 2

Scar Night reader reviews

from England

Being a bit spoiled by being a big fan of Tigana (the gold standard!) I was pleasantly surprised by this, all the more so since it's a first novel by the author. Am about to start number two in the series which says a lot about the pulling-in power of the first - these days if I don't like a book I junk it there and then. Life's too short, etc. Keep up the good work, Mr. Campbell.....

7.5/10 from 2 reviews

Write a reader review

Your rating out of 10

More reviews of Alan Campbell books

Books you may also enjoy

Perdido Street Station

China Mieville


Jay Kristoff

The Anubis Gates

Tim Powers

The Difference Engine

William Gibson and Bruce Sterling

The Scar

China Mieville

The Aeronaut's Windlass

Jim Butcher

Iron Council

China Mieville

Senlin Ascends

Josiah Bancroft

Following reviews

The Final Empire

Brandon Sanderson

The Silver Fox

Sean Beech

My Swordhand is Singing

Marcus Sedgwick


Marcus Sedgwick

White Crow

Marcus Sedgwick


John Lenahan

The Talisman: Road of Trials

Stephen King