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Ivan Blake
Dead Reckoning
Ivan Blake, author
A disgraced professor intends to punish his persecutors with a weapon he seeks among the dead of the liner Titanic. He enlists the unwitting assistance of Chris Chandler, protagonist of the Mortsfafeman series, who is attempting to escape the glare of the American media and his own guilt by fleeing to Nova Scotia. Once he discovers the professor's true intentions, Chris must defeat him or become the one thing he has dedicated his life to battling, defilers of the dead.
Nineteen-year-old “defender of the dead” Chris Chandler, hero of The Mortsafeman Trilogy, is back in a pulse-pounding new horror adventure filled with vengeful spirits and historical relics. Eager to leave his demons in the rearview mirror, he waves goodbye to America and crosses the Canadian border, where he naively accepts a too-good-to-be-true college scholarship under the tutelage of Professor Ignatius Greyson. Unbeknown to Chris, Greyson is in hot water with the college and the professor’s only path forward is by digging up mysteries of the past. He ropes Chris into a quest to secure an ancient amulet with possible mythical powers and a unique connection to epochal 20th century crises. Now, Chris once again finds himself in a battle between life and death, this time involving dark rituals and an inhuman awakening from folklore, but has his luck finally run out?

Readers unfamiliar with the earlier books in the Mortsafeman Trilogy will feel quickly welcomed into this one, though reading the earlier entries (starting with Dead Scared) is a pleasure. Blake efficiently draws in new readers by sprinkling concise background details and summations of past events throughout the harrowing story at precisely the necessary moments, without slowing momentum. Chris serves as a complex protagonist with intriguing and unique supernatural abilities. Several familiar faces return in welcome encores, while enticing new villains and heroes drive the suspense forward and raise the dynamic stakes. Together, this large ensemble cast explores themes of power, revenge, and redemption.

Elements of Jewish folklore sit at the heart of this gripping mash up of fantasy and horror. These unique elements serve as a creative foundation for thrilling twists, rancorous ghosts, and rage-filled demons, all of which make this fast-paced, deeply engrossing tale a welcome—and thoughtful—genre bender. In addition to the potent suspense, some gnarly descriptions will jolt and delight fans of visceral imagery masterfully invoking a delicious dose of stomach-churning nausea. Readers will settle into this riveting narrative and enjoy the gripping ride.

Takeaway: Thrilling fantasy-horror series comes to a strong end steeped in folklore.

Comparable Titles: Bari Wood’s The Tribe, Leigh Bardugo’s Ninth House.

Production grades
Cover: A-
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: A
Marketing copy: A