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Synopsis from GoodReads:
“‘You think you got away with something, don’t you? But your time has run out. We know where you are. And we are coming.’
“Andrew Ranulf Blankenship is a stylish nonconformist with wry wit, a classic Mustang, and a massive library. He’s also a recovering alcoholic and a practicing warlock. His house is a maze of sorcerous booby traps and escape tunnels, as yours might be if you were sitting on a treasury of Russian magic stolen from the Soviet Union thirty years ago.
“Andrew has long known that magic is a brutal game requiring blood sacrifice and a willingness to confront death, but years of peace and comfort have left him more concerned with maintaining false youth than with seeing to his own defense. Now a monster straight from the pages of Russian folklore is coming for him, and frost and death are coming with her.”
If I had read this in print, I think I would have rated it higher. Don’t get me wrong–I absolutely enjoyed Todd Haberkorn’s narration. But I don’t absorb detail as well when listening as I do in print so I need things to move along quickly without getting too complicated.
And Andrew’s life is incredibly complicated.
Buehlman juggles a lot of seemingly disparate plot points that don’t really come together until somewhere near the end. I found myself pretty frustrated and tuning out sometimes. There were a lot of allusions to Andrew’s time in the Soviet Union but, again, we don’t find out what happened there until near the end. There’s another seminal event in his life that he constantly refers back to but we don’t get that full story until late in the book either. I just wanted the plot to move on to a place where things started to come together and make sense.
I did like the cast of broken characters. Andrew and some major supporting characters are all alcoholics who meet in AA. He’s a necromancer who has some major grief issues. His friend/apprentice has a complicated history that leaves her happily secluded from society. Now that I’ve finished, I find myself wishing that I could read more books about this pair–in print.
There were a couple of other things I should mention. One character is a warlock whose powers seem to come from hurting and killing living things. His kills are hinted at more than described, but he (and another character) do kill some animals. I’m fairly sensitive to that kind of thing but it was vague enough that it didn’t bother me too much. There were a few negative stereotypes too. The only Mexican character used to be a sort of enforcer for drug lords and his large family is still in the drug business. There were a couple of “Magical Negro” characters too.
There were elements of the book that I did really like–Andrew himself, a couple of the other characters, some of the magical objects and the system of magic. I was even going to rate the book three stars but I talked myself into lowering it as I wrote this review (the negative stereotypes were the deciding factor). I’ll recommend Buehlman’s other work instead. I read The Suicide Motor Club and Those Across the River on my blogging/reviewing break and they worked much better for me.
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