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Blog Tour: Book Review|Chasing Graves by Ben Galley

TITLE: Chasing Graves

SERIES: Chasing Graves Trilogy #Book 1

AUTHOR: Ben Galley

GENRE: Dark Fantasy

PUBLICATION DATE: 7 December, 2018

PAGE COUNT: 325 (kindle e-book)

MY RATING: 4.5/5 stars


  • “People say a story is a window into another mind, another world. I believe they are more mirrors than windows. In them, we glimpse ourselves dressed up as the characters. And like any reflection, the truth we see can be hard to swallow. Perhaps that is why you don’t like stories any more, Mr Basalt? You don’t like what it reminds you of?’”
  • “Explaining something to another is always harder than explaining it to yourself. You’ve all the vocabulary in the world in your head, but from your mouth it’s clumsy.”
  • “As always, the needs of the rich resulted in the poor being trampled in some way.”
  • “A person who longs to change the past will only see themselves as a product of what could have been. The longing changes nothing of the present.”
  • “King is merely a title when there are no kingly deeds to earn it.
  • “Tragedy was one of the world’s only constants.”
  • “Prisons work on a similar principle. It isn’t the company that punishes the incarcerated, or the squalor or ill treatment. It’s the fact the world still churns on beyond the walls, and the prisoner is no longer a part of it.”
  • “Any silence longs to be filled, and a lonely mind is wont to fill it with thoughts and made-up whispers, as if the nothingness is too unbearable. It’s how dreams are made before sleep claims you, but I had no sleep to save me.”
  • “She found baths to be odd things; so luxurious and innocent, and yet all it took was a mere duck of the chin, a few long moments, and they could drown a woman. Pleasure seemed always so intertwined with danger.”

So this is the final day of the #BenGalley #Ultimateblogtour hosted by The Writereads, and I am so darn excited!!! Thanks a ton, Dave from @TheWriteReads and the author, Ben Galley, for giving me this lovely opportunity and providing me with a free e-book copy of “Chasing Graves” in exchange for an honest and unbiased opinion.

BLURB (from goodreads)

Welcome to Araxes, where getting murdered is just the start of your problems.

Meet Caltro Basalt. He’s a master locksmith, a selfish bastard, and as of his first night in Araxes, stone cold dead.

They call it the City of Countless Souls, the colossal jewel of the Arctian Empire, and all it takes to be its ruler is to own more ghosts than any other. For in Araxes, the dead do not rest in peace in the afterlife, but live on as slaves for the rich.

While Caltro struggles to survive, those around him strive for the emperor’s throne in Araxes’ cutthroat game of power. The dead gods whisper from corpses, a soulstealer seeks to make a name for himself with the help of an ancient cult, a princess plots to purge the emperor from his armoured Sanctuary, and a murderer drags a body across the desert, intent on reaching Araxes no matter the cost.

Only one thing is certain in Araxes: death is just the beginning.

From award-winning author Ben Galley comes a new dark fantasy trilogy. Inspired by Egyptian mythology and packed with dark humour, action, and intrigue, the Chasing Graves Trilogy is perfect for fans of Michael Moorcock, Brandon Sanderson, Scott Lynch and Joe Abercrombie.



Ben Galley is an author of dark and epic fantasy books who currently hails from Victoria, Canada. Since publishing his debut The Written in 2010, Ben has released a range of award-winning fantasy novels, including the weird western Bloodrush and the epic standalone The Heart of Stone. He is also the author of the brand new Chasing Graves Trilogy.

When he isn’t conjuring up strange new stories or arguing the finer points of magic and dragons, Ben works as a self-publishing consultant, helping fellow authors from around the world to publish their books.

Ben enjoys exploring the Canadian wilds and sipping Scotch single malts, and will forever and always play a dark elf in The Elder Scrolls. One day he hopes to live in an epic treehouse in the mountains.

Ben can be found on Twitter or vlogging on YouTube @BenGalley, or on Facebook and Instagram @BenGalleyAuthor. You can also get a free eBook copy of his epic fantasy The Written at


When Dave from @TheWriteReads shared the book posters and the blurbs from the Ben Galley book gallery, “Chasing Graves” instantly seized my attention! The cover is absolutely dramatic and the synopsis of the book further tickled my fancy.

Caltro Basalt, a locksmith and a thief (occasionally) from the city of Krass, receives a mysterious summon from the Cloudpiercer, the chamber of the King of the Arctian Empire. He sets on a voyage, crosses the Troublesome Sea and reaches the most thriving city in the Arctian Empire and the Far Reaches, Araxes aka ‘The City of Countless Souls’. However, he loses to his rotten fate and instead of making it to the Cloudpiercer, he is chased down and murdered brutally by a gang of soulstealers who roam around the streets of the city, hunting for preys, after the dusk falls rapidly.

I LOVED how dramatically the novel began. Viewing the chase and murder from Caltro’s perspective was totally spectacular. It is really commendable how the author has brilliantly built Caltro’s character. He’s the central character of the novel as it’s in the first person (although the novel hosts multiple POVs) and unlike most frequently encountered “cliched” heroes who are powerful, witty and “hunky”; Caltro is plump, not always witty and surely not a fighter. He may act foolish at times or may put a smile on the reader’s countenance by being immensely humorous. I loved the humour and it surely acted as a refreshment in this grim journey!

Araxes, the City of Countless Souls, Diamond of the Arc, city of cities, mountain of man’s making; is home to millions of humans, Tors and Tals and shades. In Araxes, life begins with death. “As per the Tenets of the Bound Dead, the soul of a body that dies in turmoil – whether through accident or unnatural causes – will naturally rise several days later. The shade has the chance to surrender its body to the Nyx (an underground water body) should no other claim it first. In cases of the latter, only once said shade is bound can the master own all the soul’s belongings and estates.” Power is measured by the amount of shades a person owns. More the shades owned, greater is the power. Araxes is a dreary city, where death knows no peace, afterlife is a life full of servitude and turmoil . Once the soul after death is bound by the master with the help of the half coins and Nyx water, the shade/half-life is committed to slavery and surrendering his property to the one he’s bound to. In Araxes, you either flourish by owning the maximum number of shades or you take part in the soul-trade, a trade where the shades are sold for slavery at a higher price. It is an enigmatic city where humans ride beetles and insects and the soul-stealers (murderers) threaten the existence of humans so much so that even the King hides himself in a vaulted sanctuary fearing his death.

If you ask me about that one thing that makes this novel worth a read, then it is the exceptional worldbuilding! My-oh-my what an intelligently imagined world!! I could literally get lost in the crowd of Araxes, feel the chilly aura emanated by the blue vapours of the shades passing by, curl at the pain inflicted by the thrashing of copper whips, shock my eyes at the sight of people riding insects and beetles, curse the filthy locals for swearing at everything and anything, provoke a thought at the sight of the famous Nyx, hear the dead gods whisper from the corpses, suffer inside the claustrophobic prison where shades are bound to slavery, envy the Cloudpiercer for standing so high, laugh at the King for being a coward and hiding in a vaulted sanctuary, appreciate and yet frown at the dangerous ambition of the Empress-in-waiting, get depressed about the lust of people for the cut-throat game of power in the city, feel agitated and curse Boss Boran Temsa of the Soulstealer gang for his filthy ambition and his illegal ways of murdering people and trading their souls, travel far south and accompany the very determined, sturdy and my favorite Nilith, fight with the desert bandits and the evil sandstorms, explore the enigma of the duneplains and mirages, sympathize with the state of the bound husband and the horse-Anoish and the journey continues… (Did I almost recite the story??? SHITTTTEEE!!!)

Let’s get back to reality, whew!

Caltro, now named Jerub after being bound, is no exception. He is sold to Widow Horrix and now that I’ve mentioned, I would like to quote how magnificently Jerub describes death and his state as a half-life:

“Death was a crowded place. It had been cold and quiet at first. Nothing but an empty darkness. Although the stories of glowing cornfields and mountains haloed with cloud had been immediately proven to be yak shit, it was peaceful for a time.”

“I still trembled from my death, the memory of it so vivid behind my eyes. But it wasn’t that particular injustice, nor the harsh reality of this so-called afterlife that disturbed me. It was the volume of the voices and the press of ghostly bodies. While I’d stood there all agape, countless newcomers had crowded in behind, their faint feet splashing in the puddles of inky water.”

I thought of that thin margin between life and death. When alive, it’s a precipice that’s easy to slip over. When you’re dead, it’s a sheer cliff face without a handhold in sight.

The pre-quotes at the beginning of the chapters are really interesting. They mostly state the rules, opinions of people and the principles of the soul-binding and soul-trading business that the inhabitants of the city are bound to follow (or so it seems). Each of these pre-quotes intrigued me and each chapter had something very engrossing to show us!

Tenets of the bound dead: They must die in turmoil. They must be bound with copper half-coin and water of the Nyx. They must be bound within forty days. They shall be bound to whomever holds their coin. They are slaved to their master’s bidding. They must bring their masters no harm. They shall not express opinions nor own property. They shall never know freedom unless it is gifted to them.

Besides Caltro’s character as a half-life, the story hosts multiple POVs( apart from Caltro, all are in third person). There’s this graceful and ambitious Empress-in-waiting, who frequently holds meetings with the sereks in the Cloud Court discussing the Emperor’s decrees and also plans on purging the Emperor from the sanctuary and seizing power.

There’s Boss Boran Temsa, a wicked middle aged man with a prosthetic leg shaped like an eagle’s claw and laced with gold. He is the leader of the Soulstealer gang, who illegaly murders people and plans their binding and soul-trading. He is a tremendously ambitious man who loves to seek power, no matter what.

There’s Nilith, a tenacious, determined, courageous and strong lady who travels the length of the disastrous desert in the south with her murdered husband and his soul. Her only purpose is to reach Araxes, bind her husband’s soul and clam what’s his, no matter what.

Besides Caltro, Nilith was my favorite character! I loved the indefatigableness of this woman! She’s truly a rebel and a tremendously determined woman who fights the murderous desert bandits, endures the catastrophic sandstorms, dominates her husband’s soul that is out of his body and bravely combats all the obstacles that come on her way to Araxes. Also when Nilith’s part came into play, I got really excited as experiencing her long journey in the desert and exploring the mysteries of this disastrous arid land, immensely fascinated me!

‘A grave, young miss. Something this world has forgotten. We used to spend our lives only once, see. From the moment our bitch mothers squeezed us out into the wide open, we’d thirst for life, breath in yer lungs, grab it with both fuckin’ hands.’ She paused to roll her eyes at her stump. ‘You’d never win, of course, but that was the point. The end of the chase made you work harder, try harder, live bloody harder. Cheat death until it came to catch you. People cared about life. Now we don’t care. Now you just knife a man when you want what he’s got. Now we care nothing to take what isn’t ours, and keep what we kill. Nah. We ain’t chasing life any more. Now we’re just chasing graves. Fuckin’ graves. The world’s died another kind of death, don’t you think?’

To sum up I’d say the novel was brilliant. The story ended with a cliffhanger and ugghh I can’t hold my curiosity anymore! I am vvvvv eager to know what happens next, what happens to Caltro.. Does he claim his own freedom or remains bound as a slave? Does Nilith manage to reach Araxes or the mysteries of the desert engulf her? Does the Empress-in-waiting fulfill her wishes? Does Boss Boran Temsa accomplish his goal?

All these questions will keep on lingering in my mind unless and until I read the sequel to this book- “Grim Solace”.

Chasing Graves is a fantastically imagined dark-fantasy novel that surely is worth the read. The amazing world-building, the bizarre concept, the exceptional plot and the fascinating characters will undoubtedly intrigue you! I have never been a YA fantasy fan, but Ben Galley’s Chasing Graves has certainly convinced me to explore more of this genre! This is my first book by the author and am genuinely looking forward to reading more of his amazing works. This is one great read that will highly tantalize fantasy fans! So to my YA fantasy/dark fantasy lovers, DO NOT MISS TO CHECK OUT “CHASING GRAVES”! 10/10 recommended!

Thanks again, Dave (you are awesome) from @TheWriteReads, the fantabulous Gang and the talented author-Ben Galley for giving me the opportunity of reading and reviewing the book!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my review  ❤

If you have already enjoyed reading this book then don’t forget to drop down your thoughts in the comment section below. If you are yet to read the book then grab it up asap!

Grab your copy at Amazon

Connect to me via:


Twitter: @bibliosmiacDS

Instagram: _.bibliosmiacds._

Goodreads account: Devyani

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Categories Book Review, Dark Fantasy, fiction, Mystery, YA fantasyTags , , , ,

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