Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore - review

Dead Things
Stephen Blackmoore
Urban Fantasy/L.A. Noir

***** stars

cover - I have only one issue with the cover.  There is ambiance, there is a suggestion of ghosts and deadly things.  However, there are NO obvious tattoos - oops! wait, I see some, a few.  But they are so faint that it's difficult to tell.  According to the novel, this guy has so many tattoos that he DOESN'T remember quite how many and what they all mean.  So he should be just about covered in ink, wouldn't you think? (haha, that rhymed)  Sadly, there is just the faintest suggestion of a tattoo on his neck, and that might be one on his forearm.  Again, he should be covered.  But then, unfortunately, covers rarely completely match the character description from the books they are covering.  Oh well, Que sera, sera.

The story, however.... Dead Things was a helluva read.  Really.  I picked it up on a whim.  I had a bit of a reservation, because I usually go for the books written by women - because I can't stand when I read a book by a man, that might have been targeted for the women, and then they write this love scene, that ends up sounding like total mush - not at all what you might expect from a man's pov (am I being sexist?  it's very possible).  I've never been a fan of the mushy, gushy love stuff, anyway.  But I picked up the book, because after all, the title - Dead Things.  So simple, so direct.  It's a genius title.  Dead Things.  that's it, nothing more, just DEAD THINGS.  I liked it.   then I read about the abilities, and the blurb...hmmm, okay.

So I expected to kind of like the book, to have it be one of the books that I pick up, read a bit, go to another, come back to it, etc, etc.  What happened was that late one night, I finished a book, grabbed this one, thought I would read the first chapter, at least....three hours later I was already over 100 pages in the book and I needed to force myself to put it down because I HAD TO GET UP EARLY for work the next day.  Other than the being interrupted by work and t.v. shows that I regularly watch, this ended up to be my focus read, the book I read until I finish - without picking up another book.

You can totally read a synopsis of the book online.  In fact, if you click on the cover, you will go to an excerpt (thank GOD for authors who provide excerpts for a taste, right?) and if you click on the title you go to the blurb of the book.

So this Eric Carter guy is a necromancer, and as I referenced in the cover talk above, he is covered from neck to toe (or at least ankle) in ink.  (tats, or Tattoos for those who are not up on the Tat lingo).  I really would like a sample pic of this....
These tattoos enhance his magic and provide protection.  Too bad he doesn't really remember what all of them are for...

After a very strong first chapter of him fighting a soul eater, or collector - he finds out his sister has been murdered and he ends up going back to Los Angeles (a place he swore never, ever to return to) to find out what's happened.  Almost from the minute he gets into town, this guy ends up in trouble.

This might have been the only thing about the book that had me going...:um, c'mon, magic dude, PAY ATTENTION to your surroundings!  because magic necromancer dude gets surprised - surprisingly often.  However, this could be because, after all - he's distracted with grief.  Sometimes I'm not so empathetic (menopause and hot flashes will do that to a woman - just you wait and see, people!)  So, understandably, this guy is attacked a lot.  He has some very close calls.

The book is fun.  The book was a definite page turner, and there are some strong hints about who the main baddy is, but then there are hints that it's someone else, maybe two others; then you are left wondering, maybe it's not that one....maybe it's this one.  

The magic Eric uses is pretty cool.  And there are a some explanations of magic and magical beings, but this is not done on an overwhelming info-dump manner (scroll down to Manifold Space, in the category of books gave up on - 2012, it will explain) it's done in quick jabs.  Always a good thing in a book.  Especially when you're reading for fun, and not necessarily to learn about.... whatever (planets, tetonic plates, forming of gasses on planets, gateways, the chemical make up of the MOON, blah, blah, blah).  There is one scene that might be hard for some to read (but if so, why are you reading books like this?) but it's a huge part of the story.

Dialogue - YES!  The dialogue actually FITS the characters.  (sometimes this does NOT happen, people!  and it's a shame, a down right dirty shame, when it does not fit.)  The main character sounds like a guy who is pretty smart, yet lives a bit rough.  I think all the characters read like they were described - their speech read like they were described, if that makes sense.  By the end of the book, I was thinking wow - the fight scenes were good, not too easily won.  And even though it seemed like he was surprised quite a bit, I did like that though he was a super duper necromancer magic dude, that not everything came easy to him.  Because there are other strong supernaturals out there (in book land people - at least I HOPE it's only in books)

Good story, good dialogue, good fight scenes and fun magic scenes.  Can't ask for more.  Unless it's a sequel.  And I hear there are going to be at least two other books in this series.  I don't have covers, but I do have titles (unless the titles change by the publication date)

I took a chance and wrote to Blackmoore, and he wrote back.  I always respect when an author takes time to write back.  It's good.  I asked about future Eric Carter books, and I was in a weird mood, so I think my e-mail might have been.... let's just call it quirky (more like twisted!).  But writer guy took it in stride and answered by questions.  Good for you Writer Guy!  Respect.  ;) (still in a bit of a weird mood, apparently - as shown by all my parenthesized inserts....)

Future Eric Carter novels
Broken Souls - Feb 2014
Hungry Ghosts - 2015, hopefully Feb

Another book by Blackmoore that I now want to read came out before Dead Things.
City of the Lost.  I hear it's pulpy.  Set in the same world as Dead Things, different characters.  Should be good.

1 comment:

  1. Yeah, gotta admit, the cover had me thinking Joey Leavitt from that newish movie with Bruce Willis and the time jumping plot? Not exactly uber scary...but hey, it sounds like it was definitely a case of "don't judge a book by its cover". Glad to hear it! ^_^