Thursday, April 18, 2013

REVIEW: Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore

Dead Things Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

What luck! Dead Things was pretty much everything I could ever want in an Urban Fantasy. The hero kicked ass, the pacing was fast, and the story was devoid of cliches (the ones that annoy me anyway).

+ the hero

Eric Carter was my ideal Urban Fantasy hero. He embraced his power, and even better, he didn't hesitate killing bad guys with it. With great power comes great responsibility to kick ass and make them stay down — permanently.

I loved how he owned up to his bad decisions and personality flaws. Say what? I couldn't believe it. Eric was trying make things right and become a better person. *knock, knock* Who's there? Character Growth? OMG! Welcome! I hardly ever see you, especially in book 1 of a series. Please, stay as long as you want.

I liked that it wasn’t part of his character growth for Eric to begin as a weak magical player. Dude was not an underdog cliche, which was very atypical of an Urban Fantasy. Dude was a power player and I loved it! I loved how by the end of the book, he got more powerful. None of this “let’s wait till book 3 or fucking 12 for magic leveling up” crap.

The only things I didn’t like about Eric were how a few times low level bad guys got the upper hand and how Eric lost conscious multiple times even though it was for various reasons. Eric and near-death experiences seemed to be quite the close friends, too close for my liking. Lady Luck must also be Eric’s friend, too. On the other hand, powerful doesn’t mean invincible or infallible.

+ the plot

The pacing was fast, which was rare for an Urban Fantasy, even rarer for book 1 of a series. It was fast in the way that things were progressing steadily and a small level of suspense was sustained. I was not bored! Not bored at all!

I loved how Eric didn't waste time doing what was needed to be done. It would have been in character and understandable for Eric to have some emo me-times; dude literally watched his sister being murdered in a flashback/ghost echo. Woah. I was very glad he plowed through his issues and resolved to get vengeance.

+ the plot hole

Unfortunately, there was a Chekhov's Gun-based plot hole. In chapter 8, Eric made a deal with a goddess of death in which she would provide a clue about his sister's murderer if Eric successfully kill this evil mage lord/mafia boss, Griffin, in town. The deal was quickly forgotten about; Eric never made it a priority or even thought about it. If I made an unbreakable magical deal with the goddess of death, you bet your ass I would be thinking about it 24/7 till I completed it.

Eric eventually faced Griffin, but he didn't kill Griffin on the first confrontation, nor on multiple confrontations thereafter. Eric finally dealt with the guy towards the end but only because it fit in his “kill two birds with one stone” plan to take out this second evil guy. It was not because Eric remembered that he had to kill Griffin anyway because of his deal with the goddess.

Eric never received that divinely promised clue, the goddess never mentioned the deal again, and the story proceeded as if the deal never happened.

+ the plot, part 2

Barring that plot hole, everything went fine and dandy and non-holey. One of the things I loved about the story was the absence of damsel in distress. Urban Fantasies are flooded with damsels in distress, but the book stayed on dry ground.

One of my favorite scenes was when Eric and Vivian took out their gun as they entered a dangerous place in chapter 15. Eric casually asked, possibly to inject levity to the situation, if the gun Vivian was holding her boyfriend's gun. Vivian immediately scolded Eric and said it was hers and that her boyfriend actually hated guns as a matter of fact.

As I read Dead Things, I got a Dresden Files feel, especially how similar the goddess of death was to Mab and the deal Eric made with the goddess to the deal Harry made with Mab among several other things. Dead Things was like Dresden Files but without the issues I had with Dresden Files. No dilly dallying in progression of story arc, no damsels in distress, no underdogs, no stupid moral qualms that stop the protagonist from doing what must be done, no martyr complex, etc.

In Conclusion

I rate Dead Things 4-stars I really liked it. Book 1 started with a bang and it ended on a bang. The series is fast to becoming one of my favorites. (Oh Mother of all Tentacle Aliens, please let the sequels continue the awesome!)

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