Review: The Boy Who Walked Too Far by Dom Watson

The Boy Who Walked Too Far cover
The Boy Who Walked Too Far cover

Published: Self-published (September 22, 2020)
Series: The Xindii Chronicles #1
Cover Art/Design: Blake (artist), Shawn King (designer)
Genre: Fuck, all of them? Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Crime, Grimdark
Page count: 409

Blurb

    For aeons we had swam in the dream sea, our night time thoughts observed, scrutinized. An intelligence had formed within those endless fathoms.It whispered to us of a fabled land of enlightenment. Beckoning.

    On the last outpost in creation, the remnants of the universe gather and wait out the inevitable darkness. The Construct houses the holy and the sinners’ of ages, here at the end of everything even murder is not outdated.

    Dispatched by the Pope of Numbers to investigate, the Mapper Heironymous Xindii – one of a select few who can fuse reality and dream together – and his trusty confidante, Solomon Doomfinger take up the case of a man ripped to shreds by another’s dream.

    It is a case that will define or break them. The city of Testament stands on the abyss of an invisible war and at its centre a force like no other. Here, among skulking gods, wingless angels and krakens, Xindii will face his own history and a future only pre-determined by the power of friendship.

    Walk with him.
    Content Warnings:Gore, rape, addiction, graphic sexual content, evisceration, miscarriage, incest

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The Storygraph
Goodreads

Review

Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the author which has in no way impacted my honest review. This is an ARC review, and some quotes and content may not make it to the final version of the book.

Points of interest:
✧ Oneiric crime SFF
✧ Tapestry of sentient races
✧ Gods, krakens, aliens, angels
✧ Metaphysical, transcendent worlds unlike any other
✧ Sherlock-Watson duo
✧ Arcane, cryptic, a touch esoteric, horrific, surrealist brilliance

Well, hell fucking damn

As a disclaimer, I am writing this with a severe book hangover. This book put all consecutive shots of tequila I’ve ever done to shame.

Let me start off by stating the obvious by now: this book quickly rose up to my top 5 favorite reads, not only of this year, but of all time. You need to read this yesterday. 

Some of you probably already did, as it was first released on December 10, 2017 and was a semifinalist for SPFBO 2018, making this year’s a newly released version.

As I’m new to the online SFF community, I first heard of The Boy and its reboot via the good folk at Fantasy Book Critic. Their cover reveal and Q&A with the author immediately intrigued me. After reading the synopsis and Dom’s answers, I had a gut feeling I’d love this one. As much as I anticipated I would love it, I’d soon find out it exceeded even my highest expectations. 

If that cover reveal was a tasting, then the book was an entrée of my absolute favorite ingredients: a medley of genres and a mystery at its heart. Turns out, like any good, noir detective, following my gut took me exactly to the crux of the matter.

I absolutely adored The Boy Who Walked Too Far.

Although it’s certainly the mystery that propels the plot forward, it was naive of me to assume this story had only one heart. In fact, it’s a multi-chambered organism, with a multitude of hubs, all beating to precise, well-adjusted rhythms composing a symphony of marvelous ecstasy.

It was, without question, “an emotional or religious frenzy or trance-like state, originally one involving an experience of mystic self-transcendence”. Fantasy, sci-fi, and the occult blend together until you cannot set one shade apart from the other.

Wielding an inseparably intimate duo of academics, a myriad of fascinating sentient beings and races, and a world unlike any other, The Boy Who Walked Too Far has built something astoundingly special.

The world of Testament

Watson starts off by inviting you into a place sprawling and mesmeric. Testament, the last outpost of, not only humanity, but all races of the universe.

Speaking from a blogger’s mind, this is a metropolis indispensable to any “Favorite Places in SFF” post.

Testament is one hell of a place, both cradle and boneyard, a site where gods come to die and be reborn anew. The focal point of this story, Testament takes its basis from the heath death hypothesis that discusses the end of the universe. 

The fact that this fantastical, expansive world has you deflowering the second law of thermodynamics in a fascinatingly subtle way through its surroundings is nothing short of breathtaking storytelling. 

If physics had been taught like this in high school maybe I’d have developed another passion. 

Without preamble, we are known to the fact that in this fold of deities and creatures, humanity is but a speckle.  Time travelers, souls gone missing, A.I., dream worlds, worlds beyond death, are just part of what this ingenious Frankenstein has to offer.

Although as concepts they appear familiar to any forager of the worlds of SFF, it’s in their execution that The Boy Who Walked Too Far finds its uniqueness. And it’s around this deeply intricate world that our characters develop and tether us.

Xindii and Doomfinger – The unbreakable bond

Preemptive head’s up: this isn’t a book you read if you’re wanting for strong women who get their deserved due. Although you will find compelling women in the story, they are the ones most suffering the byproducts of this dark, savage world.

The focus is really all on Xindii and Solomon, though the supportive cast is just as pivotal and exciting.

Heironymous Xindii and Solomon Doomfinger are as charismatic as a Sherlock-Watson duo, only they’re more like a Sherlock-Sherlock team of eccentrics.

One being the smartest man on Testament and the other a skilled Mapper that can wield dream and reality, it’s no wonder they are both called upon to solve a gruesome murder and retrieve a lost soul.

As they descend further into this mystery, every step takes you deeper into an enigma as complex as an Escher painting. Blurring the line between reality and dream, Watson’s writing is as ethereal as his story. 

The plot constantly casts you into the unknown, planting within you seeds of curiosity that deftly blossom into full-blown rapture. Every time I thought the book stabilized somehow, it introduced something amazing; a new discussion, a new plot-twist, a fucking hell of a mind-blowing occurrence or connection.

Gradually unraveling the metaphysical power of its many dimensions, the author discusses themes such as loss, depression, and isolation, masterly molding a gallery of surrealist scenarios. 

Time supplants itself constantly, harnessing its plot-twists into a well-rounded shot that blows your brains out every time.

Nothing is simple in this oneiric SFF with a dark red slash of crime, and every page is bathed in a surrealist brilliance gleaming with the power of stories. It’s a goddamn Remedios Varo of literary substance.

Our characters seem to unfold the value of memory in the way that it manifests their loneliness, their desires, their very souls. They tell the reader of this power to conquer even the ancient, the unknowable forces of the universe. Imagination the only thing matching the unknown and the frightful.

The Boy Who Walked Too Far is arcane, cryptic, a touch esoteric, and brutally defies the orderly common. It’s weird, it’s really fucking weird, and it’s exactly that transcendence that sets it apart.

Friendly warning, this book is brutal all the way through and unravels quite a few very disturbing, impressionable scenes and themes. I’d say it splashes on a feel of the horror genre and it does perpetuate one of its most disagreeable injustices: it does not take kindly to women. This was perhaps its greatest weakness for me.

That being said, I can’t wait to see what other horrors and marvels Dom Watson’s mind germinates as, with expert skillmanship, he’s become one of my automatic must-read authors.

Already salivating to get a physical copy of this book as soon as I’m able!

The Boy Who Walked Too Far is available at


About Dom

Dom Watson author photo
Dom Watson author photo

Father of cats and one human daughter.

Imagineer of the fantastic and the horrific. Explorer of the ethereal realms of the human id.

Author of The Boy Who Walked Too Far and the upcoming novella Smoker on the Porch. Sequel to ‘The Boy’, A Stage of Furies due for release in 2019.

Loves cooking, reading, cycling and generally behaving like a fool.
Fighting the fight for mental health.
Will sing for pizza and dance for wine.


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14 thoughts on “Review: The Boy Who Walked Too Far by Dom Watson

Add yours

    1. It’s definitely very dark and shocking, and understandably not everyone’s cup of tea. I myself had to stop a few times to assimilate it all, though I loved its strangeness. Thanks for reading 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  1. I’ve been seeing this around (wasn’t aware it had been released previously.) The cover really drew me in. May I ask for some context about the rape and miscarriage warning? Is it on-page, alluded, mentioned, etc?

    Like

    1. I only found out it was even on spfbo through some digging, after I first saw it on Fantasy Book Critic. Idk how it was before so I can’t compare the makeover it got in terms of content, but it was unlike any read I’ve read.

      Of course! Miscarriage is mentioned, and the rape is witnessed by the mc (though it’s complicated because it’s tied in w the multidimensions of the world. Nevertheless, it’s still on-page). I actually noticed I forgot one tw, which also encompasses one of the well, fucked up scenes in the book, so I’ve added it. Among all the magic, it’s a p grim world w some rly disturbing scenes in the midst.

      Hope that helped!

      Liked by 1 person

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