Mount Readmore Book Review, 2018 29/200
Blunt Force Magic By Lawrence Davis
eBook Edition, Given to me free for the purpose of review
Finished on 2/24/2018
“A modern fantasy with a touch of noir, a dash of detective thriller, and a sprinkling of humor throughout. A really fun debut novel.”
Janzen Robinson is a man lost between two worlds. Five years removed from a life as an apprentice to a group of do-gooding heroes who championed the fight against supernatural evils, the once-promising student is now a package courier going through the daily grind, passing time at a hole-in-the-wall bar and living in a tiny, run-down apartment on the south side of Cleveland, Ohio.
Then fate (or a case of bad timing) brings him face to face with a door that’s got his old life written all over it. From the ancient recesses of unyielding darkness known as the Abyss, a creature has been summoned: a Stalker, a predator whose real name is forbidden to be spoken aloud. It’s a bastardization of the natural order, a formidable blend of dark magic and primal tenacity. Its single-minded mission? Ending the life of a fiery, emerging young witch.
Thrust into the role of protector, a role once reserved for those he’d lost years ago, the out-of-practice Artificer not only has to return to a life he’d left behind, but must relive that painful past while also facing down the greatest threat to come to our world in a century. Janzen will have to journey through the magical underbelly of the city and stay one step ahead of an unstoppable monster hellbent on destruction while also trying to figure out why it’s been brought to our world. Old wounds are reopened as Janzen looks to old friends, a quiet stranger, and his own questionable wits to see them all to the other side of this nightmare that may cost him his life and, quite possibly, the world itself.
Genres: Fantasy, Urban Fantasy, Dark, Military Fantasy, Genuine Sarcastic Urban Fantasy Main Character, Popcorn Book
A How-To Guide to Killing Demons Using Marbles
I was given this book for free for the purpose of an honest review. I asked to read this book because I’ve been hankering for some Harry Dresden. This book provided some solid Urban Fantasy shenanigans in spades.
Do you like having fun? This book was fun to read. ‘Blunt Force Magic’ plays some genre conventions straight and modifies others for the sake of creativity. But it’s more than that. It discusses PTSD in a mature and relevant fashion, a very important topic not often discussed in our war-and-bloodshed obsessed fantasy genre.
Janzen and Grove were the two main protagonists. Janzen is a former stereotypical Urban Fantasy do-gooder… until all his friends died and now Janzen has PTSD. With the help of his dog Janzen climbs out of the bottle for long enough to get back into being a hero. Grove is a former member of the US Military who was honorably discharged after he lost his hearing in combat. While he doesn’t get much dialog, I found him to be the emotional rock of the book. As the author is a former soldier, I think the depiction of PTSD was accurate.
Overall the characterization was pretty good. The book contained multiple empowered female characters, including a mother and a badass bartender. Janzen and Grove were the best characters in the book, but almost all the characters were distinct and had their own unique voices. I would have liked if Janzen had more try/fail cycles, but that’s nitpicking. The setting, a magical Cleveland, was simultaneously grungy and mysterious. I liked it.
The plot throws you right in feet first, and holds you with frequent combat against demons and vampires. The pacing was good. I, the reader, got the sense that at any moment the baddies could barge into a scene and begin a fight, which raised the tension consistantly.
The prose was the best part of the book for me, but it is inconsistent- varying between excellent to average but usually closer to excellent. When it was great it pulled me in with descriptions of the world and what the characters were feeling.
Here’s some constructive criticism: I didn’t buy the romantic arc in this book. The female love interest did not have much agency, so the romantic arc was undermined thereby.
Highly recommended. I fully intend to read future books by the author.