reviews
Charles' Reviews

Charles' Reviews (135)

Master of Chaos (Harry Stubbs #4)
21, Dec

5/5

The Harry Stubbs Adventures are one of the best series to come out of the recent independent Cthulhu Mythos scene along with Matthew Davenport's Andrew Doran and my own Cthulhu Armagedon (just kidding--or am I?). They're the adventures of a WW1 veteran pugilist who continually comes into contact with the edges of the Cthulhu Mythos. Harry Stubbs isn't a guy who guns down Dagon or Deep Ones but usually ends up only encountering the barest whiffs of the eldritch and mostly deals with cultists--this keeps things mysterious as well as explains why he's kept most of his sanity intact.

Darkfall (Rhenwars Saga #4)
10, Dec

5/5

DARKFALL is the grand finale of the Rhenwars Saga and it's nice to have a series which ends properly even if the ending is bittersweet. M.L. Spencer is one of the new voices in dark fantasy (which I use when talking non-pejoratively about grimdark fiction). She doesn't use violence or swearing to win her accolades but a persistent deconstruction of the traditional heroic narrative.

Sunset Strip (#4.5 Tome of Bill)
08, Dec

4.5/5

THE TOME OF BILL series by Rick Gualtieri is a guilty pleasure of mine. Much like my Supervillainy Saga books, they're a lot of nerd references with a semi-serious take on the supernatural. Unfortunately, the books have an oft-putting quality to them due to Bill's causal use of sexist, homophobic, and abelist remarks (he constantly refers to Sally as a b*** for example). Indeed, those are a good reason not to buy them even though I otherwise enjoy the series.

Bloody Rose (The Band #2)
05, Dec

3.5/5

I was a huge fan of Nicholas Eames' KINGS OF THE WYLD and wasn't alone in my fandom. The combination of a traditional Dungeons and Dragons' esque high fantasy story with THIS IS SPINAL TAP was such an electric combination that it topped a lot of the "Best of 2017" lists, including my own. About it's only competition that year, in my opinion, was THE GREY BASTARDS and KINGS OF PARADISE.

Devil's Night Dawning (Broken Stone Chronicle #1)
14, Nov

4.5/5

DEVIL'S NIGHT DAWNING by Damien Black is a dark fantasy story set in a European-esque setting afflicted by demons, a generational blood feud, and a young woman who discovers running away from an arranged marriage is not as easy in the story books. This was a highly entertaining read and I found it to be one of my favorites of 2018. The book did have some criticisms but it's a solid piece of fantasy straight from the independent circuit.

The Camarilla (Vampire: The Masquerade)
10, Nov

2.5/5

THE CAMARILLA (sourcebook) is an incredibly flawed book that would have otherwise been a 4/5 if not for one incredibly ill-conceived chapter (plus many editing errors) that I think needs to be removed. But we'll get to that. Actually, no, it's probably best to get it out of the way before anything else. The Camarilla (sourcebook) contains a chapter devoted to describing Mordor meets Latveria. There's a murderously evil little country ruled by a vampire dictator which is rounding up all the gays and other innocents to be vampire snacks. Here's the problem, it's a real country. You know, you can describe Montreal as a Satan-worshiping hellhole, that's actually funny. It's considerably less funny when it's a real country.

The Anarch (Vampire: The Masquerade)
08, Nov

4/5

THE ANARCH (SOURCEBOOK) is the first supplement for Vampire: The Masquerade's controversial but awesome Fifth Edition. Anarchs have always been something of the middle child of the setting due to the fact they get almost no respect from people who assume they're either part of the Camarilla but whiny poseurs or they're Sabbat-lite in that they're against the Elders but won't go to the extremes necessary to affect real change.

Nemesis Games (The Expanse #5)
27, Oct

5/5

NEMESIS GAMES is the fifth book in the Expanse series, which is about humanity 200 years in the future when we've managed to colonize the rest of the solar system. Humanity is divided into Earthlings, Martians, and Belters with varying degrees of oppression. A mysterious alien object called the protomolecule has changed the balance of power between them and opened up new possibilities to visit other star systems.

Bone Crossed (Mercy Thompson #4)
24, Oct

3.5/5

BONE CROSSED is the fourth novel of the Mercy Thompson series, which is one of my favorite urban fantasy series along with THE DRESDEN FILES and THE HOLLOWS series. However, whereas I have some issues with the latter two, I have to say the Patricia Briggs novels are consistently one of the most entertaining urban fantasy on the market today.The books aren't without flaws but they serve as mental comfort food when you just want to sit down and enjoy a story of a clever protagonist versus this weeks' monster. Mercy Thompson is a relatively weak superheroine with minor powers and that makes encounters with more dangerous supernaturals all the more intense.

Alien Stars (Harry Stubbs #3)
22, Oct

4/5

HARRY STUBBS is back and fighting the Great Od Ones again! The adventures of a early 20th century London boxer and amateur detective remains one of my favorite Cthulhu spin-offs. It's a series of well-researched detective stories which are more interested in the occult secret societies, weird history of London, and cultists versus the actual supernatural weirdness so many other stories deal with. In simple terms, it's more The 9th Gate versus Friday the Thirteenth in how it compares to most stories.