The Blue Blazes

The Blue Blazes - Chuck Wendig Mookie Pearl is a thug. He knows he’s a thug. He has always been a thug, working for the Organisation to ensure the supply of Blue – the mystical substance that brings an incredible high but also opens your eyes to the real… things out there – keeps flowing while the denizens of the underworld remain down where they are.It’s a hard life and not a happy life – not getting easier or happier with his daughter makes a play against the very Organisation he works for; and organised crime isn’t kind to those who mess with it.Her upsetting things is adding to more trouble – the boss is getting old, his heir isn’t ready to take over, there are new players in town and there are things stirring in the depths – among the snakemen and the goblins and the dead that walk.This book is, perhaps, the hardest review I've ever written.Because so much of this book is stunning. The writing is a true work of art. The structure, the description, the sentence length, the word choice all telling as much about the scene as much as the actual description. I’ve rarely seen writing that is so expertly craftedAnd the theme and setting come through extremely well. The grittiness, the grimness are all well portrayed. The land without laws or order, where life is cheap, the sense that anyone could die at any time, nothing is pretty or shiny or beautiful and no-one can really be trusted. The otherness of the underworld, of the down below, how dark and terrifying and alien the underworld is. The weird eye opening power of the Cerulean. Even the surreal violence of the gangs and their odd themes and looks. All of the themes are excellently maintained to give a powerful atmosphere you rarely if ever find in books.And the world is incredibly well designed. The underworld, the dark places under New York filled with layers and layers of creatures and monsters, creatures from the dark infiltrating to the surface, the different supernatural Pigments, a version of undeath that is deeply horrific – in fact a version of everything that is deeply horrific. In a genre where a lot of staples of horror movies are made into friendly sexy people, it’s interesting to see a book where just about everything is a monster, everything is horrific and no-one is truly good.The whole premise of the world is an underworld – both literally and figuratively. The monsters of the dark rub shoulders with those who lurk in the corners of humanity’s own underworld. After all who is more likely to come into contact to the hidden monster’s in the deeps? It won’t be the wealthy and privileged in their penthouses and mansions. It’s the poorest, the homeless, the addicts, the people forced to seek shelter in the corners and the shadows, the underground and the underworld. And, of course the criminals, the organised criminals and the gangs who are forced to organise more in the face of threats – and opportunities with the drug cerulean – from the depths. With that you can see the bleed over of culture back and further, how the gangs are just a bit stranger than they are elsewhere and how the Organisation has had to be a little more organised than most syndicates in the face of the threat. Ironically, while there are some legitimate interests in the cities who delve into the darkness, it is often the criminal element that stands as the line of defence between the underworld and the civilised world up top. It’s a really interesting and different premise I’ve never seen represented in quite this way – certainly never so darkly, because the organised crime may be the last line of defence for humanity, but they are still organised criminals. They are still thugs running protection rackets and selling drugs and enslaving addictsThe very nature of enemy’s plot, when fully revealed is something that is both horrifying and imaginable – epic on a scale of the most cartoonish of supervillains but with a dire realism and a fully implementable capability that adds a horrifying reality to the fantastic. And yes, as they progress on this story people die – horrifically quite often. People get badly injured. This isn’t a fluffy book where people recover or healing magic patches people up nor is it a book where no-one dies. There are often losses and pain and brutal executions and a need to get up and keep going.Which brings us to the characters. they’re all extremely real – not necessarily human, far from that, but definitely real. From Nora with her epic daddy issues, to Skelly (who is several kinds of fun) to relatively minor characters like the Burned man and Werth the goat and Karyn the butcher are all real characters with real motivations and thoughts and goals and motives. Frequently dark and menacing motives, definitely skewed motives in the dark and evil world they live in –but still their own motives and their own lives.Read More