The novel follows twin grave robbers as they face monsters, demons, and men from the forests of Germany to the deserts of Egypt. While the initial appearance of the main characters is quite repulsive, my dislike of the brothers tempers a bit as the novel goes on. Yes, they're still brutal and cruel compared to 21st Century morals, but it's not as bad as you might think given the harsh world of a medieval Europe devastated by plague. In fact, some of the other characters are just as bad or worse than the brothers and I think that's part of the point. The book really reads like a darker precursor to the Grimm fairy tales. It's sort of a morality tale full of horror, violence, adventure, social and religious commentary, with some pure comedy thrown in.
Though the pacing falters about three-fourths of the way through, Sad Tale is quite good for debut novel. Still, it's not for everyone. Due to it's graphic nature, I wouldn't recommend it to anyone easily upset or offended.