Behave, or The Syk’m will come and take you away.
That was the threat hanging over my childhood, the terrifying punishment that made us all
As children, we were told that The Syk’m watched over us. Should we misbehave, they
could do unimaginable things.
Because we were young and knew no better, the mere mention of their name was enough to
control us. We went to bed, minded our manners, stopped our shouting. Although The Syk’m
were mythical creatures, never seen, we all believed in their power over us.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I thought that I had outgrown the unseen terrors of my
childhood. I thought that I no longer believed in the power of The Syk’m.
Then the day came when I discovered that The Syk’m were real. The day they found me.
Their message was clear. Despite everything I had imagined, they needed my help.
It was the day I discovered that they were not the monsters we had all believed them to be.
There were others in the universe.
I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the author in exchange for an honest review.
The Syk’m represents a new genre for Richard Dee, venturing out into the world of fantasy. To date, I’ve read books by Richard Dee in a number of genres and enjoyed them all, so I expected nothing different from this one. The story follows a boy, Hors Lawis, and his friends. In their home of Skandir, the Syk’m are painted as evil, winged monsters, something children are scared into obedience with, lest the Syk’m come and take them away. Hors, roaming the streets and markets of his home for a gift for his mother ahead of her birthday, finds himself distracted by a female. Something about her catches his eye, not least that she has intense blue eyes in a land of brown-eyed people. She carries herself with the strength and purpose of a warrior. As their eyes met the shy Hors could not help but be intrigued. As she disappeared deeper into the markets he could not help but follow.
Down a quiet alley, she pauses, turns and looks at him before stepping through a brick wall. Puzzled and curious in equal measure, Hors followed, arriving not in the building beyond the wall, but a different world altogether. The mysterious girl removes the robe she hid under, unfurling her wings. The Syk’m, Hors quickly realised, were very real. In short order he is lifted into the sky by the Syk’m girl, and sees the sprawling land below. She paints a picture of unrest, of dire situations. The Syk’m are under attack from a band of warriors not of this world, the Druhann. Hors has been brought from his world to help defeat the threat and help restore peace to the world of the Syk’m
Hors, along with the girl, Enuna, must recruit his most trusted friends from Skandir to embark on a highly dangerous mission to cut off the Druhann, bring their leaders to justice and end the war. And perhaps in the process, they would be able to bury the rumours of the Syk’m being monsters once and for all.
Richard Dee is a fantastic writer, and something of a genre journeyman having written brilliant novels in the cozy crime, steampunk and sci-fi genres, so I entered The Syk’m with high hopes. I am a big fan of fantasy, more specifically the enormous Discworld series by Terry Pratchett. While that series is very much a satire of the real world, it also lovingly and mockingly follows many of the standard patterns or tropes of fantasy – warriors and beasts, dragons, kings and queens, witches and wizards and so on. I was pleasantly surprised to find Dee has taken a somewhat different approach to fantasy. It feels every bit a fantasy novel, but without all of the tropes. The adventure is grand in its scale, the characters developing as they work through setbacks and pitfalls. Richard Dee has crafted a fantastical fantasy filled with fun, adventure and danger all in equal measure. I look forward to seeing where he takes this new direction next.
The Syk’m by Richard Dee releases October 15th