Stephen Blackmoore’s Dead Things: A Review

Dead Things by Stephen Blackmoore is a book that I picked up after reading his first book City of the Lost.  Both books are set in the same world, with the flavor of urban fantasy.  With the noir storytelling, it’s difficult to not compare these stories with the first few books of Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files series.  And so I won’t.  Two different authors, two different stories, both have their flaws, but they both are damn entertaining to read.

First off, I’m going to avoid any major spoilers, because major spoilers suck.  Read the damn book yourself if you want major spoilers.  But there may be a few very minor spoilers that will not give away the plot in any sense.  Fair warning, okay?

I began reading City of the Lost knowing nothing about the story or the author.  Just the word of mouth of a friend in whose taste I trust.  It was a good book, but it suffered a bit from typical problem of a new world: keeping the pacing fast while still establishing that new world.

Dead Things has the world already established.  I was surprised that the main character was brand new.  Not sure why I should have been surprised, but I was.  If the first story was the effort of making us feel at home, the second story is like moving all your stuff into a new house.  Feels familiar, but everything is switched around, and you get to see how things complement each other that weren’t in the same room before.  I was thrilled to realize that the hero is a necromancer.  Ever rooted for a necromancer?

Like any book, though, this one wasn’t perfect.  There’s a new high-power supernatural player in this story, but it didn’t click with me for some reason.  I felt like I needed to see more from their point of view to really feel what motivates them.  And the main baddies seemed to be bad for bad guy reasons.  Money, power, immortality.  I didn’t connect with them, because they didn’t pop out like real people enough to me.  I will say that I understand how difficult it can be to get the other person’s point of view across from a story that’s told in the first person.

I wanted to get my dislikes out of the way, so I could get on with what I really really dug about this story.  First off, it was insanely brutal.  There was a point near the beginning where I had to put the book down from the shock of it.  There’s not a lot of rest for our hero, and I would argue that he might not deserve rest.  That’s another thing I liked.  The hero is not necessarily a good guy.  He did horrible things, and he had damn good reasons for doing them, and I felt those reasons.  I rode along with his train of thought, and I felt the regret and self-loathing that he felt.

The hero’s old flame acts like a real person would act.  Did any of you watch Prometheus and absolutely hate it because not a single character acted like a person would act?  (If you liked Prometheus, you are wrong, BTW)  Read this book, Ridley Scott.  Pay attention to her.  This is how people act.  This is how they feel and respond to terror and tragedy and love and loneliness.

The ending (NOT SPOILING) is absolutely not sugar coated, which makes it all the more real to me.  Yes, there’s necromancy and ghosts and the other side, but it feels true because this is how this story would happen in real life.  Not a fairy tale.

And one more thing, one recurring character from City of the Lost shows up again, and I wouldn’t mind seeing that character in every one of the following books (and I truly hope there will be many more).  I would even go so far as to say that this character would merit a stand-alone story.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy, mystery, noir, horror, or just a damn good story.  On a scale of 5 stars, I give Dead Things 4 1/2 stars.

I’ve never done a book review before, but I thought this was a good one to start on.  I hope to see more from Stephen Blackmoore.

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