DEAD THINGS by Stephen Blackmoore

Publisher: DAW Books
Pub date: Feb 5th, 2013

The sequel.

Will it be awesome, like EMPIRE STRIKES BACK? Or will it be filled with suck, like the abysmal GHOSTBUSTERS 2?

DEAD THINGS, the sophomore effort by novelist Stephen Blackmoore, opens with a kick-ass magical fight set deep in the heart of Texas. Cranked out at a pulse-pounding clip in a very imaginative and unique way, Blackmoore quickly puts DEAD THINGS on the sequel side of EMPIRE. (Although the themes of the book may be more reminiscent of GHOSTBUSTERS, but without the slime. You know what I mean.) Our hero is Eric Carter, a very powerful wizard whose specialty is communicating with the dead, or necromancy. He is a known commodity in the magic community, where he occasionally freelances as an agent for hire who can get things done. It’s when Eric wins this very well choreographed magical firefight that he learns that his sister has been brutally murdered back home in Los Angeles.

Eric hasn’t been home in 15 years. After avenging the murder of his parents by killing the evil Boudreau, Eric found it easier to leave Los Angeles than stay and help pick up the pieces. Eric leaves town during the aftermath, leaving his sister, his girlfriend, and his best friend in the lurch. And herein lies the secret of DEAD THINGS. While Blackmoore fills the story with all the pulp trappings I enjoy; a scarred and cynical hero, clever dialog, and imaginative ideas mixed with supernatural elements, it’s the story of Eric reuniting with his best friend and former girlfriend that steals the book.

While Eric is focused on finding the killer, the story masterfully mixes in themes of responsibility and loyalty. There has been quite a spotlight on the urban fantasy shelf recently, and for good reason. Books in this genre have appeared on many “Best Of” lists for 2012. The formula for success, regardless of the genre, has to be the strength of the storytelling. This is where Blackmoore succeeds. If you took out the supernatural pieces, DEAD THINGS would still be a gripping story about a young man returning home to avenge the murder of his sister. By adding the secondary themes, layering on the supernatural, Blackmoore is able to add on elements of faith, belief, and the influence of Spanish culture into the mix. The magic elements serve to add to the existing story structure, were in the hands of a less skilled author, they could be used to distract from flaws in the storytelling.

Blackmoore has been awarded a multiple book deal. Since DEAD THINGS ends on a perfect twist, it’s the reader that is truly rewarded.