Author: Chuck Wendig
Title: The Blue Blazes
Publisher: Angry Robots
Cover art by Joey HiFi
Summary: It was 1976 when a crew of the Sandhogs, digging a tunnel 800 feet under Manhattan, pierced into the Underworld. Since then, our world has met the Great Below, and the two have started preying on each other, hidden from the public eye.
Mookie Pearl is an enforcer for the biggest, and sole, crime organization of New York, and he rides the border between criminal underworld and supernatural Underworld. He oversees the extraction of a mystical drug and kicks the human or supernatural asses he is told, no question asked. But when the foundations of the Organization start to crumble and his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, Mookie will have to fight like he never did, and find the truth behind the mess he is finding himself in.
They have a name for it, in myth. Katabasis. The descent. To descend. Mythically speaking, into the Underworld – the so-called “Harrowing of Hell.” [...] And so it is with the Underworld: you may enter its depths and walk into the dark, but something is always taken from you. And it remains ever-uncertain whether your entrance will be mirrored again by your escape.
The morning of my 31st birthday I received two books as b-day gifts.
The first book was a novel by a friend of mine, an urban fantasy set in Milan. The female lead was a girl named Lena, short for Eleonora.
The second one, was an urban fantasy novel set in New York; one of the main character of this second novel was a girl named Nora, short for Eleanor.
Funny coincidence, isn’t it?
What I loved about The Blue Blazes is the fact it has at least two hearts.
The first is also the most blatantly evident one: it’s a great story with a fierce rhythm and it’s choke-full of action, monsters, oddities, fear, awe, craziness. Each chapter kicks off with an excerpts from the Journal of John Atticus Oakes, a guy who ventured in the pits of the Great Below aiming to chart it all (and never came back); each excerpt is a little touch of genius, and I loved each and every one of them, because they explained, and hinted, and teased, and prepared the ground for what was coming.
Read this book and you’ll find yourselves chin deep in a scheme that involves the biggest (and only) crime organization of N.Y., goblins, nagas, trogbodies, daemons, undead, thematic gangs like the roller derby Get-Em Girls, and even some almost-forgotten, extremely powerful entities trapped beyond the reach of man.
You’ll find yourselves unable to put down the book because Mr. Wendig’s writing is so good, his plot so tense, the rhythm so pressing, you’ll decide you need to read another page, another line, just the end of this chapter, damnit!, now I have to know what happens to Mookie in the next chapter.
And all the while, you’ll wade through the second heart of the novel: its characters, their complexity and humanity.
I could relate so much with Mookie, in all of his pride, and awkwardness, and hurt feelings, and loyalty.
And I could relate maybe even more with Nora; and since she’s written so well, since she acts as a real person would act and think, I could read all the true motives and issues hidden behind her façade, right since her second appearance. I was in her position, I know how it feels (minus all the goblins, supernatural drugs and murders).
And I loved Skelly, and the old goat Werth, and Karyn, and Burnsy: what a fantastic cast of support characters!
Not to mention the villains!
And the Vollrath! Gee, they creep me out at the mere thought!
To sum this rambling up, The Blue Blazes is a great book. It has everything I expected and a load more.
It is highly recommended, period.
Now go and buy it! Quick!
And maybe you’ll find yourselves thinking, as I did, that this story would be wonderful if moved to the comic book format…
I can almost see the gobbos and their bone pyramids, and Mookie stalking a tunnel, meat cleaver in hand, and the Blue, blazing along the edges of the panels. Man, it would look great, I swear!