Review: The Childless Ones by Cam Rhys Lay

6:30 AM

Cold weather, and being stuck indoors for almost a week, means a massive reading binge/readathon. 



In the "real world," we open with Jack Ampong just leaving a prostitute when he receives a phone call that his wife Sarah has been assaulted. With this incident as a jumping off point, we watch as Jack and Sarah deal with past guilt and regrets as well as their own ongoing struggles with relationships, infertility and parenthood. 

In the "fantasy world"—ostensibly written by Jack—a bureaucratic Empire rules with an iron ancient sect of sorcerers have extraordinary powers but are cursed with the inability to have children... and a race of beings called the Mandrakar live lives one quarter the length of normal people, but have memories that are passed on to future generations through the last of an ancient breed of tree. Along the way, we meet a crotchety governor who just wants to do right by his granddaughter, a hardboiled, lesbian, dwarf detective who just wants another drink, and a villainous sorcerer whose motives form one of the central mysteries of the story. 

Throughout the book, the two narratives echo off one another—often in surprising ways—ultimately commenting on the very nature of storytelling itself.

The Childless Ones by Cam Rhys Lay | Rating: ★★★☆☆

As a note, a copy of this novel was sent to me by the author in exchange for an honest review. This does not effect my opinions in any way. 

I'm not certain on if I am leaving this at 3.5 or 4 star, so I wouldn't be surprised if I update this again in a few days to a 4. My feelings for The Childless Ones were complex in a positive way. If you're on the hunt for something new, something that will make you feel, Cam Rhys Lay has you covered. This book was intense. Mostly, The Childless Ones was unlike anything I've read in recent memory and very, very, very beautifully written.

While, admittedly, there were some things I'd change about it, that is less of a mark-down against Cam Rhys Lay or the novel itself and more of a personal preference thing. Therefore, I am not going to go in depth about this.

Utterly riveting, The Childless Ones takes you on an unexpected ride. I wasn't sure how I'd feel about it when I first started it, but I'm glad I went into it almost blindly. (If you can call reading the synopsis blindly, pft.)

I found the split worlds to be crafted gorgeously. Cam Rhys Lay is a deeply imaginative writer who lulls readers into the thick of it by engulfing them with compelling characters and vivid settings. If you're doubting it, just read the many rave reviews the novel has already garnered. Cam Rhys Lay is worthy of every ounce of praise The Childless Ones is, and will be, receiving. I'm honestly surprised that I've not heard more on this book because it's truly a fantastical tour-de-force that will surely develop a cult following in the years to come.

This novel is more than just split realms, worlds, settings, whatever you wish to name them. It is a deeply engrossing tale of fantasy, humanity and more, that would be impossible to describe in one simple review. All that can be said is that it has to be read to believed, and see, the magic in Cam Rhys Lay's words. And honestly? You're going to love and appreciate it.

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