Published by Tom Doherty Associates on August 18th 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Fantasy & Magic, Urban, Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: Explicit sex scenes, descriptions of kink/BDSM.
Reviewed by: Kim
R.S. Belcher, the acclaimed author of The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana launches a gritty new urban fantasy series set in today's seedy occult underworld in Nightwise.In the more shadowy corners of the world, frequented by angels and demons and everything in-between, Laytham Ballard is a legend. It's said he raised the dead at the age of ten, stole the Philosopher's Stone in Vegas back in 1999, and survived the bloodsucking kiss of the Mosquito Queen. Wise in the hidden ways of the night, he's also a cynical bastard who stopped thinking of himself as the good guy a long time ago.
Now a promise to a dying friend has Ballard on the trail of an escaped Serbian war criminal with friends in both high and low places--and a sinister history of blood sacrifices. Ballard is hell-bent on making Dusan Slorzack pay for his numerous atrocities, but Slorzack seems to have literally dropped off the face of the Earth, beyond the reach of his enemies, the Illuminati, and maybe even the Devil himself. To find Slorzack, Ballard must follow a winding, treacherous path that stretches from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to backwoods hollows and truckstops, while risking what's left of his very soul . . . .
If you are looking for the ultimate bad-boy wizard, Laytham Ballard, the "hero" of NIGHTWISE will be right up your alley. Unfortunately, you'll have to swamp through the first third of the book to get to the really interesting stuff.
As a rock-star-famous wizard, Laytham waltzes in and out of the scene, spending money and getting laid wherever he goes. He's done some dark things, and the first third of the book is devoted to proving that to the reader. I nearly gave up on this book when it tried to prove how edgy the magic scene was by showing how closely magic can be linked to kinky sex. Seen it! I sometimes felt like the author was trying too hard to prove how hardcore his characters were, like a goth thirteen year old covered in mascara and wearing a Black Sabbath shirt; it was hard to take him seriously.
I know Lantham is supposed to be an anti-hero; it just took me a really long time to even begin to enjoy hearing him tell his story.
There are quite a few references that dated the book. I kept being reminded that this book was set in the immediate present, with references to things like 140 character Twitter spells, and the like. It felt a bit like pandering to me.
On the flip side, I have rarely seen such a variety of magical theory so well explained and illustrated. There are wizards who need LSD to interact with the framework of life, wizards who perform Australian-inspired walkabouts through time and space, demon summoners, and literal techno-wizards who can write computer viruses that you could conceivably catch, if they wanted you to.
NIGHTWISE was like a really long rollercoaster, with a few good surprises along the way and an excellent final ride. The clever magic lingo and theories will entertain long enough to get you to warm up to the characters, and the denouement is worth it.Series Titles: