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Review: Kentucky Bestiary by Joseph Hirsch

22838744Show me a hero, and I will write you a tragedy. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

Try the devil, though I didn’t double cross him. I pledged allegiance. – Billy Wilkes, Kentucky Bestiary

“Hero” is such an odd word. Is a hero only that person who makes the grand and often fatal gesture? Or can a hero be a simple cop, tired, worn by the pain, the depression, the idiocy of humanity? And when do the horrors of life lead to the horrors of madness?

Corporal Pietro Silone was so very tired of Cincinnati. High crime, danger, drugs.

But the change he expected when he moves back to the ‘hollers’ of Eastern Kentucky – calm, peace, a speeding ticket now and again, is not what he finds. Instead, meth-heads and murder are the acts of the day, and reality takes a curve to the depths of despair and revulsion, of mystifying dreams and horrors of the mind and soul.

“Do you know where the cave led before it got blown?” Pete imagined it leading to the adyta where saurian-headed lizard men sacrificed virgins on an alter with bas relief carvings of some Sumerian forebear of Beelzebub sculpted into its stone, the monsters salivating for blood. It had been a long night.

Kentucky Bestiary is an oddity. Beginning as a quite well written police procedural, it blends and flows into a story of horror and myth, of Appalachian life. The horrors of monsters blend seamlessly with the horrors of the history of the mountains, the coal mines and the monstrous men who ran them, who worked children till their fingers bled, their lungs collapsed, their lives lived in the chthonic darkness of the miles and miles of tunnels, filled with not only darkness, but the terrors of cave-ins; of haints and hoodoos, and things that go bump in the night.

In the mines you had to keep your friends alive. In ‘Nam you had to keep your friends alive.

The threads of history flow through the book – Vietnam plays a role in the story of Pete’s uncle, the Veteran. But the history of the superstitions of the immigrants who populate the area is a stronger thread. Cryptozoology to snake handling, Pentecostals to Native American legend. The horrors of modern day meth heads, excruciating poverty and the hand-to-mouth lives of people with no hope living amongst rich tourists and a mysterious billionaire with a mysterious past, and an even more mysterious present.

The carrion’s gray coat stretched above them and gave off a faint animal musk, the beak of the preserved vulture’s head shadowing them like the canopy shrouding a massive dark Yggdrasil tree.

This is a very different sort of book. If you are looking for straight police procedural, you aren’t going to find it here. But if you are looking for something unusual, odd, and very deeply scary, a mind trip far from the usual, this is one to check out. Just don’t do it right before bed . . .

I received this book from the publisher in return for a realistic review. All thoughts are my own.

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Review: Maggie for Hire: Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Book 1 by Kate Danley

Maggie For Hire Book One of the Maggie MacKay Magical Tracker Series

maggieforhire
Come on, get the series. If you have a great sense of humour, this is a great series!

First, let’s get out of the way what Maggie isn’t – this isn’t a “romance” paranormal or not. It isn’t a “serious” urban fantasy work in the vein of Kate Daniels or Mercy Thompson. It is, instead, a pure and total snarky laugh riot. It is total enjoyment, a few hours of pure relaxation, where the weight of the world goes away and you can immerse yourself in another world.

“I suddenly felt like I was about to learn that I had walked into a great big game show of The Multiverse’s Next Top Stooge, Riiight.”

The world that you are immersing yourself in is really two worlds – the “normal” everyday world, and another, sitting side-by-side with this world, where all of our dreams and fears exist. If you have ever read Heinlein’s “The Number of the Beast” you are familiar with multiple world theory (well, if you are familiar with modern science, you are also familiar, lol) The Other Side, in Maggie’s case, is a world that fairy tale creatures and monsters of all types populate. As a Tracker, Maggie finds, and brings back to the Other Side, those who ‘slip’ across the barrier between worlds. What happens in this edition is exciting and entertaining, and full of a kind of snarky attitude that had me laughing out loud all through the book.

A couple of favorite quotes:

“Lacy interrupted herself to shout at the zombie porter, “Cut it out! He’s a vampire! he doesn’t have a brain!”

“Locking eyes with a vampire: “Way To Get Yourself Killed Right Quick #84″ in the Idiots Guide to not Getting Dead By A Monster.”

See? Pure fun, with a bit of action, a lot of crazy uncle and grins galore.

Now, “I shall run a load of laundry before we kick the bad guys’ asses.”

Read. Relax. Enjoy. And don’t go in with any expectations other than the fact that it is supposed to be fun and you will be very glad you did.

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