Thursday, June 27, 2019

CARDINAL BLACK by Robert McCammon

*Book 7 of the Matthew Corbett series*

It's always a grand adventure when I jump into a new Matthew Corbett book! I've always called these books the most consistently enjoyable series out there, and this 7th book doesn't break that trend. This picks up right after the end of Freedom of the Mask and Matthew is now forced to work for his arch-enemy Professor Fell and track down a valuable book of potions stolen by the even more evil Cardinal Black in order to find an antidote to cure Matthew's poisoned paramour Berry Grigsby.

I'm constantly blown away by how refreshingly modern these books feel, given the fact that they take place during the very formal times of the early 18th century. If you've heard about these books and think that they sound like they would be slow and boring, you couldn't be anymore wrong. This book finds Matthew and his murderous traveling partner Julian Devane running headfirst into a dangerously high-stakes undercover operation and they manage to put themselves squarely in the sights of Europe's entire criminal underground.

I'm always worried that McCammon's long-windedness would ruin things for me, but again, there's so much awesome that it's easily ignored. McCammon's big strength, what makes his books so enjoyable, is his uncanny talent with characters. All the supporting cast is instantly memorable, from Julian Devane, to Samson Lash, to RakeHell Lizzie, to Miles Merda, and definitely the creepy Satan-worshipping Cardinal Black. And Matthew himself continues to be one of fiction's best heroes, and this time he faces his biggest moral challenges, as he tries desperately to cling to his honor, even at the cost of survival.

Once again, I would recommend these books to anyone, but especially if you've enjoyed the other novels. As usual, this book ends on a great cliffhanger that sets up the next historical adventure. So now begins the long wait until the next installment.


Friday, June 7, 2019

BAY'S END by Edward Lorn

Bay's End falls right in line with many other great coming-of-age novels that I've read, like IT, The Body, The Accidental Siren, and Boy's Life, where we witness a boy forced to grow up fast during the most important summer of his life. The boy in question here is Trey Franklin, who, later in life, is trying to exorcise his demons by recalling the summer as a kid when he met his best friend, fell in love, and lit a cherry bomb in a policeman's car, setting off a deadly chain reaction in the small town of Bay's End.

This was Lorn's debut novel and it's an impressive one. It moves at a good pace, the characters jump right off the page, and the prose is tight. And I love how the author takes his time to lull you into the comfortable setting of the story, bathing you in the innocent freedom of adolescence, so that when the dark shit hits the fan, it's surprisingly brutal and wicked. This definitely isn't for the faint of heart or for people not willing to explore humanity's pitch black dark side, especially in the type of people you encounter everyday. Every piece of work I've read from Edward Lorn has been worth it and he is proving to be pretty dependable. I'll pick up any of his work that's released.