The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston is one of the several ARCs I’ve been reading recently. It landed on my devices thanks to NetGalley and the publisher, Angry Robot. As usual, with every ARC I read, you can expect an honest opinion.
Author Rob J. Hayes describes the book as “Kings of the Wyld smooshed together with Suicide Squad”. But I’d say it’s Dark Souls meets DnD. Everyone’s a villain, and the world is filled with monsters, magic, and powers I’ve not come across in many of the fantasy books I’ve read, simply because of the scale. Cameron Johnston did great with scale. If you’re ready to learn more of the story and its essence, let’s dive further into this The Maleficent Seven review.
The Maleficent Seven: The Plot
The book’s plot is pretty straightforward if you read the blurb on Goodreads. I won’t reveal why the demonologist Black Herran abandons her armies on the eve of battle, causing their ruin and downfall. But this earns her their passionate hatred.
Now, forty years later, when she needs them again, to stop the onslaught of a fanatic army serving under a Goddess, deals must be made, bonds must be reformed. The leader of said army, the Falcon Prince, has hurt all of her former captains. Or will hurt them if he isn’t stopped. That common enemy unites them for one final stand at the hastily erected walls of a backwater town called Tarnbrooke.
The Maleficent Seven: The World & Characters
As you can guess from the title, The Maleficent Seven centers around 7 main characters, and yes, that means 7 POVs. We have Black Herran, her necromancer Maeven, the vampire lord Lorimer Felle, the war demigod Tiarnach of the Cahal’gilroy, the orc clan leader Amogg Hadakk, the pirate queen Verena Awildan, and the alchemist Jerak Hyden.
It’s a vicious and colorful cast of characters, some casters, others – summoners. All nasty. My favorites turned out to be Lorimer and Tiarnach. One thing that The Maleficent Seven suffered from was the constantly jumping POV, often in the same chapter. It was a bit distracting at times and did pull me out of the characters’ shoes, preventing me from growing attached to/caring about most of them. That being said, they are all fun company. The book has lots of humor and quips, and every single character has their own agenda.
What I would’ve liked to get more of is the world itself. We know very little about Essoran (which is the continent where the action takes place) or how might and magic work here. It felt a bit bare-bones, mainly because of the pace of the plot. Traveling from point A to point B took just a few pages. But I guess you can’t have it all. The Maleficent Seven is a long book as it is, clocking at 400 pages for the paperback.
Should You Read It?
Yes, I’d definitely recommend reading The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston. It’s an epic dark fantasy novel with violence, blood and gore that you’d enjoy greatly if you don’t mind the fast pace. You’ll be accompanied on a dark journey filled with danger and secrets by a crew of unapologetic villains. The fact that there weren’t heroes or your classic good guys made it even better. My final rating for The Maleficent Seven is 4/5*. It hits shelves on August 10th, so put it on your TBR lists.