BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Quick Pick: Blood Ghast Blues

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Title: Blood Ghast Blues (Black Box Inc. Volume Two)

Publisher: Bell Bridge Books

Author: Jake Bible

Price: $15.95/$4.99

The Hook: Ten years ago, the portals opened. All of the thin spots between the worlds suddenly ripped open and cities such as Eugene, San Francisco, Sedona, and Asheville filled with beings from parallel dimensions: goblins, kobolds, zombies, yetis, trolls, and many, many more. Terrified and determined to maintain control, the governments of the world enlisted the aid of powerful magic users and cast the Grand Hex, officially limiting extra-dimensional beings to portal cities and altering the memories of any humans who encounter them. Well, except for people like Chase Lawter, a former street kid who developed an incredibly rare magical ability: he can manipulate Dim, the substance that exists in the space between spaces. He can do anything with it -- even make impenetrable, invulnerable lock boxes in which he will store your most valued possessions ... for a fee, of course. As the founder of Black Box Inc., Chase has worked on some pretty strange and dangerous cases ... but the most dangerous of all has just walked in his front door: the Department of Extradimensional Affairs has a job proposal that he can't refuse .... 

The Analysis: I am always on the hunt for new urban fantasy to read and, when I discovered that Blood Ghast Blues is set in one of my favorite cities, I couldn't pass it up. While it might be the second book in the series, I had no problem following along.

The characters are a lot of fun. Chase is a genuinely good guy; he had a rough start as a kid, and now, as an adult, he has a particular intolerance of bullies and criminals who harm innocents. His office manager is Sharon, a very Zen zombie from a parallel Earth. The muscle of the group is Harper, a human who was kidnapped by fae and transformed into the ultimate warrior. Than there's Lassa, the seven foot-tall omnisexual yeti (he flirts with everyone. Everyone.) And the One Guy, the Asheville crime lord whom Chase and his people are very reluctantly protecting from very very nasty blood ghasts.

Blood Ghast Blues also contains some pretty exciting action sequences, most notably a mad dash up and down the interstate while being chased by kobolds, federal agents, blood ghasts, and Portals Patriots (idiot human supremacist militia who want to drive the "monsters" back to their own worlds). 

And if being chased and hunted and nearly killed several times a day wasn't enough, it is very clear that the One Guy is up to something. And there's a leak in the DEX. And there's the mystery of whoever really is controlling the blood ghasts and why. So, lots going on to keep Our Heroes hopping.

And did I mention the giant walking very hungry fish?

I have only two complaints, one minor, one more complicated. First, the author consistently misuses "that" in place of "who" or "whom." Understandable if the speech pattern of a particular character leaned in that direction; but the author continues to do so even when acting as the narrator. I kept having to rewrite it in my head.

My second complaint concerns the Grand Hex. I understand that the human governments of Earth would be keen to keep ogres and yetis and zombies and so many other creatures from wandering loose. So, portal cities become safe zones. But ... what's with the memory wipes? Why do tourists who visit these cities have to forget or misremember what they saw? What about all the pictures they took? What about the DEX? Is it a secret government agency? Does the general populace not know about it? How did the Portal Patriots come about? What about the people who actually live in San Francisco and Eugene and Asheville and other portal cities; are they completely unaware of the extra dimensional beings running around?

Either I missed something, or the exact nature of the Grand Hex needed to be clarified, along with the implications of it upon the world and populace.

The Verdict: Blood Ghast Blues is a highly enjoyable urban fantasy. Full-fledged characterizations and an engaging mystery kept me entertained from beginning to end. I am looking forward to the next book in the series.

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.

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