Book Review

Carrot Field

Today I’m bringing you something a little different, something that tells the story of an epic adventure, a world split apart by war, racism, and greed. One filled with menacing beasts, and intelligent monsters who bring chilling thoughts of our current political world to my mind. And it’s not a horror book,  but a fantasy one with just enough darkness hidden within.

This is a book I have been working my way through since last year. After reviewing Something in the Dark the author, Vincent Asaro, asked if I’d be interested in reading his fantasy book, Carrot Field. And I said “Heck yeah!” But it has taken me a while to get through it.

Part of that was because it isn’t horror so I was a torn about posting the review for it here. In fact I even started up a little blog on the side that was fantasy focused specifically, almost entirely because I wanted speak about this book in a way that was fair to the story it was telling. But my ambitions were too bold and I just couldn’t swing writing and promoting another blog. (Especially when the opportunity to collaborate with podcasts popped up and required more attention.)

So… enough backstory- pull on your cloaks, and grab your knapsacks of supplies, we’re going to be exploring a new world today:

Carrot Field

carrot field 2016 edition 1 coverWritten by Vincent Asaro

Genre: Epic Fantasy, anthropomorphic characters

(don’t be fooled by the adorable cover art btw. It’s a grand adventure with a lot of darkness and some truly epic blood spattered battles.)

Published: February 5, 2016

Book Description:

The Fantasy Epic 20 Years in the Making! Enter a world of courageous Animals, uncommon heroes and epic battles. The young Rabbit, Sebastian Perriwinkle, is swept off on a quest—along with the enigmatic Badger, Plotonicus and the mystical Fox, Brand Redtail—to find the legendary Human race. Together they unravel the mystery of an ancient war and confront the ultimate darkness—The Lord Ouroboros [amazon.com]

A Unique Writing Style

I think the best way to describe this book is if you mixed The HobbitLord of the Rings, Redwall by Brian Jaques, and 1984 by George Orwell all together. You’d end up with something like Carrot Field.

This book starts off feeling like a classic epic fantasy , much like Lord of the Rings.

A small group of unlikely heroes travels great distances and changes the lives of those they meet on their way to defeat the great evil threatening their world. But the first difference you’ll notice is the expansion of races and species that come into play. The lead characters, Sebastian, Brand, and Plotonicus are a Rabbit, Fox, and Badger- respectively.

We start in a corner of the world filled with Animals that exist much like humans do. With buildings, trains and clothing. It’s quiet at first, but the shadow of a very recent and very brutal war still lingers. It is that looming shadow that sends our trio on their epic journey into the dangerous Outlands.

1984 gif2But where this story begins to stretch outside of the path of traditional fantasy is when we, the readers, flit away from the progress the trio are making and come back to the rabbit-hole. We get to see how the quite world of Carrot Field is begin torn apart by a terrifying upheaval in the political climate. It is incredibly reminiscent of George Orwell’s 1984.

Rights are being torn away from the Animals living there and prison camps are popping up faster than books are being destroyed. This side of the story I found incredibly engrossing and I actually wish that a little more time had been spent experiencing that part of the world. But that probably has more to do with the fact that I gravitate more towards dystopian literature than I do to epic fantasy. That being said, the entire world was a bleak, desperate place, and it’s incredible the scope of story that Asaro was able to capture.

Not for your average Reader

For people who love epic fantasy along the lines of The Lord of the Rings, this book is exactly for you.

If you don’t enjoy being submerged in slowly paced writing that methodically details the world, then I would actually steer you away from reading this and recommend you something in the dark Asaro covercheck out Asaro’s collection of horror short stories instead.

This book takes it’s time to fill in the details of the world’s history, landscape, peoples and their customs. While reading this book you are completely immersed in the experience and reality of the world of Carrot Field.

Now, I have to say, that style of writing is not what I tend to seek out and I actually feel that if I’d experienced this story as an audiobook, instead of reading it I would have enjoyed it more.

It just has that cadence where you feel like you’re listening to someone’s oral history. The story itself is expansive,and it does go on tangents often to fill you on on the cultural context of what you’re experiencing. In a lot of ways you have to slip into that meditative state that listening to a great story brings on in order to fully enjoy the experience.

However- I will say that this stylistic choice was expertly executed. So if you do enjoy immersing yourself in a vividly detailed world, then you’ll love the heck out of this.

Richness of Cultures and History

This story’s greatest strength is in the world’s variety of cultures and the richness of each one’s history. Not once are you introduced to a society of people without some cultural context (even this world’s version of Orcs). I could go on for days about just a few of the cultures, but really if you want to know why the Commander of Legions has teamed up with the insane/sadistic demi-god or how the Wolves of the Outlands split into two warring factions- you’ll have to just read the book 😉

Yeah, but what about the blood and scary things?

Oh don’t worry, there’s tons of both. The scary creatures and peoples of the world are out there, lurking in every shadow and often- make themselves know. Leading to death-defying feats by our heroic trio. As for the blood? Well, if you like grand battles, sword fights, and teeth tearing action- then you’re in for a treat. Because there’s plenty of that action in here too.

 

Verdict

I could easily go on and on and on about all of the layers of interesting characters and worlds that this book creates, but I’ll spare you. Do read this book if you enjoy epic fantasy. It’s a fantastic 5 out of 5 blood spattered stars kind of read.

Find a Copy

You can purchase Carrot Field on Amazon as a Kindle or Dead-Tree book.

Connect with the Author

You can connect with Vincent Asaro over here:

@AsaroVincent ♦ vincentasaro.weebly.com ♦ YouTube

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