2016 Finalist - DragonCon Dragon Awards (Fantasy)
Underground Book Reviews Pitch Perfect Pick - Feb 2016
My name is Alexi Sokolsky: blood mage, occult scholar, and hired killer. Three things that should convey me some immunity in the dog-eat-dog world of the Russian mafia. Fat chance. In reality, I think too much, drink too little, and if there's one thing the underworld teaches you, it's that there's always a shark bigger and hungrier than you.
Life gets tough after a man turns up dead in our territory, his mutilated body scrawled with demonic sigils. It gets tougher when a key ally of my Organization is kidnapped by a secretive death cult... and I'm the errand boy sent to hunt them down and bring him back. Then I get captured, nearly killed, and am immersed in a sea of cosmic horror the likes of which I've never known. The stakes are nothing less than the daughter of GOD Itself... and she's calling to me for help.
My name is Alexi Sokolsky: blood mage, occult scholar, hired killer... and hapless pawn in the great game between Everything and the NO-thing trying to destroy it.
What I think of the books:
This is a first for me – writing a review on two books instead of one. Why did I decide to do that?
Because I planned to review both books and when I started writing, I realized the reviews are very similar.
Without further ado, here’s what I think about Burn Artist and Blood Hound.
The first book that I read was Blood Hound and the first thing that comes to mind when I think of it is surreal.
The criminal aspect is prominent in both books, as is the magic, but it was while readingBlood Hound that I had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. Things get weird towards the end – really, really weird – and thanks to the writing style, they also seemed real. It’s like that feeling you get when you are partially awake, but still dreaming. If you are into stories that temporarily make you question your reality, this book is for you.
As I said, magic is also present in Burn Artist, but we haven’t quite entered Looney Land yet. If you decide to read the series – and I strongly recommend you do – you’d better start with this one.
Things are simpler in Burn Artist, both when it comes to the inner workings of the crime world and the magical one. However, both of those worlds are well-developed. That was what grabbed me when I began reading Blood Hound: well-written and with a HUGE, in-depth stress on magic. The characters are also developed, although back when I startedBook I, I was wondering what was so special about Vassily that Alexi kept putting up with him; I found the answer to that in the prequel novella and I even developed a great liking to Vassily thanks to it.
I got to warn you: you’ll probably have a hard time with all the Slavic names. I know how unfamiliar names are harder to remember so you might mix up who is who because of that. There are only a handful of important characters though so remembering probably won’t be a big problem for you. Pronouncing on the other hand… I’m a Bulgarian and some of the names are similar to those in my country, but even I don’t have a clue how to pronounce a few of them.
Another thing that was somewhat off-putting was the magic. Yes, I know I said that it was one of the reasons why I love the books so much, but it has a downside to it too: it’s complex. Alexi would occasionally do something without the author going into details of how it was done and why it worked; it can get a bit confusing – especially in Blood Hound– but it wasn’t enough to make me stop reading and enjoying the books.
Who would I recommend these books to? I’d recommend both books to escapists, to people who are interested in magical rites and to fans of the Crime genre.
My rating for Burn Artist: 5 out of 5 magical sigils
My rating for Blood Hound: 4.5 out of 5 enchanted revolvers