Welcome to our Featured Reviews! In this series, we'll be highlighting book reviews by the S&L audience. If you want to submit a review, please check out the guidelines here! -Veronica
Review by Kaleb Russell
After reading this book, I‘ve realized how amazing Chuck Wendig is. Somehow he manages to write great books and give out even greater writing advice through his blog at www.terribleminds.com, which you should definitely check out after reading this review.
Deep down, under the streets of New York City, lies the Great Below, the Descent, or the Underworld. It is a great expanse of deadly denizens, monstrous cults, and even the Gods themselves who are trapped in the eternal hell. That is until the humans, accidentally, open the gates to hell; allowing said creatures into the infinite above to rape and kill any and all the humans who reside there; to feed on their pain and make the world for humans a living hell. And these deadly creatures don’t care if they used us up completely; they only want to cause chaos on the world above them.
Then there is The Organization. A variety of different gangs, formed together in order to keep control of prostitution, crime, and drug trade in the city of New York. The main drug being Cerulean, otherwise known as The Blue Blazes. One of the Five Occulted Pigments originating from the Great Below; it gives the user enhanced strength and allows them to strip away the veil the monsters use to hide themselves from anyone who hunts them. One of whom happens to be one of the strongest, most vicious thug of The Organization.
He goes by the name of Mookie Pearl. Butcher, bar owner, breaker of bones (both human and demon). Don’t let the name fool you. He’s an intimidating, hulking figure who is only good at bashing the heads of anyone who trifles with The Organization. Or his estranged daughter, Nora, who comes to Mookie telling him she plans to change the game and become the next big crime boss of New York. Right after that Mookie learns the boss of The Organization, Konrad Zoladski, has terminal lung cancer. The Boss knows he doesn’t have much time left on this earth, so he decides that his grandson, Casimir, will become his successor and take control of The Organization and all that comes with it. But Casimir is not ready and he knows it. It’s then that Casimir comes to Mookie for help. He asks Mookie to find another one of the Five Occulted pigments, a purple substance known as Death’s Head, which is said to cure any disease or even bring the user back to life. The fact that no one has even seen this Pigment makes Mookie skeptical, but when he starts searching for it he finds more than he’s looking for and chaos ensues.
The Blue Blazes was a spectacular book. I wasn’t sure about it at first, but after I continued reading it I fell in love. The world building in the book was good. We learn the origin of the Organization, the monsters that inhabit the Great Below and the Five Occulted Pigments from Mookie as he goes around the city, searching for something that might not even exist. Most of the information is given to us through the means of a journal entry by a man named John Atticus Okes, a man who delved into the Great Below and never returned, at the beginning of every chapter. I found it helpful and felt eager to read John’s story as he slowly goes mad in the Great Below. With those we could move on in the story rather than have most of it introducing the world and more time was spent developing the characters.
Another thing I loved about the book were the action scenes. I felt they were fast paced and well executed. It felt like I was actually there to witness the battle between Mookie and all the creatures of the night. My favorite thing about The Blue Blazes was the family dynamic between Mookie and his daughter Nora who is constantly at her dad’s throat for abandoning her and her mother. I don’t believe Nora’s character was as fleshed out as I’d liked it. She acts like a spoiled brat throughout most of the novel and even admits it from time to time. But even with that I still enjoyed how Mookie was always willing to save his daughter even with all the things she’d done. Some fathers wouldn’t go through that much trouble to help their children when they are in dire need of help. It made my heart warm when reading it. Mookie isn’t the big bad monster everyone makes him out to be. In truth, he’s a man who loves his family and friends. I sympathized with him whenever something went wrong with him on his journey.
Honestly, I have nothing to gripe about. This was a great book and when I try to think of any negatives, my mind draws a blank.
Final Verdict: Why are you still here?! Stop reading this review and go out to buy The Blue Blazes this minute! It’s an amazing book and you’d have to be doped up on the Blue not to see it.
And please let me know if you found this review helpful as well as what you feel like I need to work on. Thank you for reading.