zondag 28 april 2013

Review: Stephen Blackmoore, Dead Things

I’m writing this review shortly after reading a blogpost about how the line between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance is blurring more and more. I had to agree with said poster when she stated that it’s not for the good of the series – but it might be when it comes to the sales aspect – when the main focus of Urban Fantasy, being a tight plot filled with action and the supernatural, is being replaced by flimsy romance and way less plot than the amount of pages seems to suggest. If there are others out there who feel the same and are looking for a book that puts the Urban back in Urban Fantasy: meet Stephen Blackmoore and Eric Carter.

Necromancer is such an ugly word, but it's a title Eric Carter is stuck with.
He sees ghosts, talks to the dead. He’s turned it into a lucrative career putting troublesome spirits to rest, sometimes taking on even more dangerous things. For a fee, of course.

When he left L.A. fifteen years ago he thought he’d never go back. Too many bad memories. Too many people trying to kill him. But now his sister’s been brutally murdered and Carter wants to find out why.
Was it the gangster looking to settle a score? The ghost of a mage he killed the night he left town? Maybe it’s the patron saint of violent death herself, Santa Muerte, who’s taken an unusually keen interest in him.
Carter’s going to find out who did it and he’s going to make them pay.
As long as they don’t kill him first...
At times, blurbs can be deceiving and you end up with something totally different than what you had in mind. With Dead Things, you'll have none of that. The book is what the blurb sais it is. As it suggests, the plot is quite simple, but it’s tight and effective in its simplicity. There are not many different plotlines that can get you side-tracked and everything happens at a very high pace, so the book definitely keeps you engaged for the whole ride. This story is the perfect example how an Urban Fantasy/Fantasy Crime novel should be like. It does keep you guessing in between the numerous confrontations between the good, the bad and the ugly, and when you thought you got it figured out, the tables are turning. Near the end, some things do happen that thincken the storyline a bit and it'll be interesting to see how it all develops in future novels. The whole wrapping up of things might not be as mindblowing as it could have been, but the ‘final battle’ does deliver big time.
So it has quite a good main mystery and on the side there is some sweet little magic taking place. I thought Eric Carter was a very nice take on the necromancer aspect of things as a whole. The idea of Eric being able to cross over to the shadowside, along with the whole range of ghosts depending on how the person died brought something new and fresh to the table and the whole magic built around the ghosts is really fascinating. It doesn’t always have to be about rotting zombie when it comes to necromancy, right? But this is not all when it comes to the hocus-pocus; in fact, his little bag of tricks was the cherry on top. Especially the stickers/nametags he used to bespell things were genius and hilariously clever at the same time - I mean, the sticker on Vivian?!. The idea is just so simple that I’m quite baffled that I didn’t come across things like this in other novels, but Stephen Blackmoore and Eric Carter made the stickers really their own. Also, the tattoos. I won’t say any more about this, but just: the tattoos.
Eric Carter himself is quite the enjoyable main protagonist as well. He’s troubled, that’s for sure, but it gives him a certain je ne sais quoi that makes him likeable as a character, even though he’s not the most pleasant person to be around. Even more so, despite him being troubled and all, he doesn’t constantly remind us of it nor does he turn into a whining child. In that aspect, I found him to be more likeable than Harry Dresden whom I also like, but tends to stress his chivalrous qualities a little too often. The other characters do a good job of supporting him, but it’s Eric that’s shining bright.
The writing is how it should be is this genre. Tight, fast paced and a little rough around the edges. The pace is kept high by the usage of short sentences which are more a kind of spoken language rather than written language. Normally things like this would bother me a bit, but here it suited the pacing and feel of the book very well. Stephen Blackmoore isn’t afraid to make some tough decisions and is able to refrain from adding to much saccharine frosting – in fact he used bare to none – for which he earns a kudos.

To put it simply, I would love to read another Eric Carter novel. Especially after the ending of Dead Things, which made me feel uncomfortable, and that’s a good thing. Even though it’s a little rough around the edges and fairly straight on, I really enjoyed reading it. Dead Things showcases the potential of Mr. Blackmoore as a strong voice in the Urban Fantasy genre and I can only recommend it to fans of the genre.

Fancy a rough ride with a tattood guy? Pick up your copy of Dead Things right now! 

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