The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig
(Description nicked from B&N.com.)
“Meet Mookie Pearl.
Criminal underworld? He runs in it.
Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.
Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.
But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…”
Once again, Chuck Wendig and Angry Robot serve up their own particular brand of WTF fiction. You certainly can’t accuse the author of being derivative, because every time I read one of his books, I think “Wow, I’ve never read anything like that before”. And this is a good thing, because urban fantasy and paranormal fantasy have gotten pretty homogenous in the past few years. Wendig’s writing is a breath of fresh air in a genre that too often feels kind of stale.
Readers should be warned, though, that this novel (indeed, any novel by Wendig) is not for the squeamish. There’s a lot of graphic violence on tap, and our main character Mookie gets the tar beaten out of him many times throughout the story. There are murderous goblins and ravenous evil gods, as well as gang violence and guns aplenty. A few descriptions are going to draw a wince from even the more jaded readers, but given the subject matter, the violence isn’t over the top.
I wasn’t sure that I was going to like Mookie. He could very easily have been the stereotype of a dumb mob hit man, but I should have known that Wendig wouldn’t go for the usual tropes. Instead, he’s a man who is feeling his age, tired and scarred, and regretting the choices that led him to where he is. He definitely still has the savage mindset that allows him to be good at what he does, but as many characters note, he’s smarter than he looks. And even better, he’s tenacious. He simply won’t give up when he thinks he has something to accomplish. I ended up liking him a lot.
What really caught my attention in this novel was the setting. This version of New York City dark and gritty—think “noir” dark—and is in a constant battle to keep the monsters out of contact with normal people. It’s interesting to note that it’s the mob and the local gangs that are the real line of defense against all those things that go bump in the night. The underworld is a physical place that is a maze of caverns and odd places, and it’s not the only such place in the world—this portion of it just happens to be under New York. Each chapter is preceded by a fragmentary journal entry from someone who supposedly explored the Underworld, and it makes it really interesting to trace his journey and compare it to what’s going on with the main storyline.
Wendig proves once again that he’s the man when it comes to mixing dark fantasy with gritty street-level conflict and coming up with a finished product that will keep you up long past your bedtime trying to figure out how the heck he made it work. The Blue Blazes is an action packed punch to the imagination that will probably draw horror fans into the wild world of fantasy fiction.
Series: Mookie Pearl
Publisher: Angry Robot
Page Count: 400
Publication Date: May 28, 2013
Acquired: Provided by the publisher as an e-ARC through NetGalley
Read an excerpt