The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig

(8.5/10) An in-your-face book, one that will take you on a rollercoaster ride.

The Blue Blazes is the first book in a new urban fantasy series by Chuck Wendig, a high action fast paced story about supernatural underworld gang warfare. Angry Robot Books and Chuck Wendig have already proven to be an excellent match with Wendig's Miriam Black novels, and The Blue Blazes only enhances the reputation of both parties.

The story follows Mookie Pearl, a henchman for the leader of the New York City supernatural underworld. When the leader reveals that he's dying, he elects his less than capable grandson as successor to the throne, but all that goes to hell when his grandson is murdered - presumably by Mookie's daughter. Violence erupts as the gangs revolt, so Mookie has to act fast if he wants to save his daughter and preserve the comfortable way of life he has carved out for himself.

This is a high octane story, with a big brute of a man mauling his way from plot point to plot point. Wendig writes with this uniquely visceral style, as blunt as it is powerful, and I think this style really suits a character like Mookie Pearl. There is no pretence, no layer upon layer of complexity, this is a story about a big guy who bashes stuff because most of the time it’s the right thing to do. And for me, that's exactly what I like to read.

What I like about Mookie Pearl is that he's not just a meathead put into a shitty situation - one of the strengths of Wendig is the ability to make his characters seem so real. His characters are very complex, they almost always have been through a large number of hard or bad situations, and these situations help to really colour the characters and their method of thinking. Mookie Pearl is no different. He has a strained relationship with his daughter because he always put his work for the underworld before his family. In Mookie’s mind there was no problem - doing his job properly meant protection for his family. Trying to understand exactly what he did wrong is just one of the many internal dilemma's Mookie has to resolve, and I think it helps to humanize this massive, almost superhuman like, death-dealing character.

I don't really have too much else to say about The Blue Blazes. Chuck Wendig's style is not for everyone - he doesn't hold any punches, he makes use of some amazingly graphic similes, his books are bloody and violent, and his characters don’t shy away from the foul language. The Blue Blazes is an in-your-face book, one that will take you on a rollercoaster ride, making sure you feel every punch and kick along the way. I definitely recommend that you give it a try and see if it’s the type of book for you.

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