Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore
My rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Dead Things is serious magic noir. The name of this book tells it all. This book is about a man surrounded by dead and the consequences it has on his life and his relationships with the living. The narrative is very cynical, with a main character who has a foul mouth and a dark point of view. Of course, anyone who has his necromantic abilities might tend to lose his faith in humanity and everything else. Despite that fact, I did like this book for the most part. Blackmoore lost me some near the end though. It was too abrupt and I didn't completely like the choice he made with the story. The end does make sense to some extent, and if this is a series, it will be interesting to see how Eric gets himself out of the mess he is currently in as of the end of this book.
I don't like to compare, but for male-lead UF readers, you could think of Eric as the darker counterpart to characters like Dresden and O'Sullivan, probably more like Connor Gray than the former. His gifts are part of him, and they taint his life in many ways. But in the case of Eric, his choices continue to alienate him from those who live and want connection with him. He fears tainting them or destroying them, but by walking away, he endangers them even more. Kind of a vicious cycle and a bound to bring on the existential crisis or dark night of the soul.
The imagery is what got me with this story. The world-building is suitably and necessarily dark for a story about a necromancer. His vantage point of life on the highways and backroads of America, seeing all the ghosts who either wander or who are anchored to their place of dying. In some ways a warrior for the light, but one who exists in the twilight and shadows. Eric sees and deals with many so-called deities and has little respect for them. Unfortunately, he makes a deal with one and will have to pay the piper very dearly.
I hadn't ever heard of Santa Muerte, the Patron Saint of the Narcos (Drug Traffickers) on the Mexican Border. A death goddess who started out in the Aztec pantheon, but found her way into the Narco-influenced border culture where she has plenty of followers. Blackmoore brings this mythology to vivid but disturbing life. A distinctive turn in urban fantasy that fits this very noir read.
I can't say Dead Things is for everyone. This is one is quite violent and kind of depressing in some ways. Lots of swear words and a great deal of irreverence on display, along with moments that border on being nauseating for the squeamish. Eric's choices aren't always admirable, but I did feel for him. He remains a sympathetic character despite his flaws. People around him tend to get hurt, and that's hard for me to read, especially since I can't 100% place that blame on his shoulders. I felt his loneliness and isolation, his front of apathy that doesn't quite hide a fear of being the screw-up that no can love, respect or stand up for. I wish his actions didn't turn this into a self-fulfilling prophecy. I want to continue this series to see what happens next to Eric, and to hope that he turns things around and stops walking away from life and deeper into the world of the dead, while there is still some part of him that has a connection to the living.
Overall rating: 3.5/5.0 stars.
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