Rarely does a book connect with me in a way that I know it's going to be a 5 star read after only a couple chapters. That's exactly what happened with Priest of Bones by Peter McLean.
I had a few apprehensions when hearing about this book originally. Most people compare it to Peaky Blinders, a Netflix show about gangsters I thought was okay, but ultimately very overhyped (and unnecessarily slow/boring all-too often). This book is NOT that.
From the very first chapters, Priest of Bones is compelling, action-packed, and full of interesting (and awful) characters. For me, the characters are just as enjoyable to read as some of my other favorite series - First Law and A Song of Ice and Fire. Tomas Piety is a great protagonist with an incredibly realized voice. I am somebody who typically dislikes first person quite a bit, with few exceptions, and Peter McLean might very well have written my favorite iteration of first person narrative. To list a couple other standout characters - Bloody Anne, Jochan, Billy the Boy, and maybe this is a less popular take, but I really loved both Cutter and Sir Eland (I have no idea how people generally feel about any character in this book, but I would guess neither of them are named often in a "favorites" list). Somehow I almost forgot about Ailsa, who... might (?) be my favorite character? I don't know, but that's why this book is so great. There are so many characters I really vibed with.
I went into this book completely blind about the plot, and I recommend anyone else who wants to read this does, too. You can know these few details:
It's grimdark and the basic premise is: Tomas Piety is leading a gang of criminals returning home from a war to begin running his business empire again. If you like gangsters, criminal families, law vs criminal empire type stuff, you're going to love this book.
Now I'm going to stop writing and begin reading Priest of Lies.