Hemlock (The Manhunters #2) by Jesse Teller Book Review

Write on: Sun, 05 Aug 2018 by  in Charles' Reviews Read 4042


HEMLOCK is the sequel to Jesse Teller's SONG, which is the first volume of the Manhunters series. The premise of the series is Rayph Ivoryfist is a Gandalf-style wizard who used to be the protector of his kingdom as well as the imprisoner of innumerable supernatural baddies in a magical prison. However, things go South when the king turns upon him and a mass breakout is staged which unleashes them all onto the world once more. It's a combination of fantasy and comic book supervillain plot.

This book continues the attempts to follow up the mass jailbreak by having the Manhunters go after an army of vampires who are spreading through sickness through the titular city. These are not particularly romantic undead despite some being physically beautiful with the majority being mindless Nosferatu-esque slaves of the more powerful of their kind. They warp the land around them, spread disease, and are dominated by their hunger. I appreciate them being treated as genuinely horrifying as well as disgusting since it fits better with the Medieval horror of what they do in the city of Hemlock.

I think I like this book slightly more than I liked Song since the first book dropped me in the middle of the story while this has the benefit of the previous book's backstory. It's very much an action orientated book with Rayph using his wits while his team uses their brawn to destroy as many undead as possible. I also liked the secondary characters a good deal as a high class prostitute becomes transformed early on and is easily the most entertaining of the villains. Personally, I was rooting for her the entire time.

I like Rayph Ivoryfist as a protagonist because he's a character who has been harmed by his own pride and the lasting consequences for it. He refused to serve the king of the land who was, admittedly, a spoiled child but burning those bridges has left him with no support even when the entire world is at stake. Worse, it means the genuinely loyal and nationalist associates he once depended on are now his enemies.

Jesse Teller has an excellent ability to write a combination of multiple genres blending together. The Manhunters are an "Avengers"-like group of fantasy heroes that are all capable in ways which go far beyond normal human means. The superhero like feel is complimented by going against fantasy threats easily equal to Thanos or the Green Goblin. However, the horror of what happens to the city of Hemlock is not understated. The vampires take over and turn the population into a larder for themselves with no ability to resist the mass infestation which has afflicted it. The fact it still works as a fantasy novel is a sign of just how related the three genres (superheroes, fantasy, and horror) are.

In conclusion, Hemlock is very good popcorn fantasy and fun to read. If you enjoyed Song, you'll enjoy this even more so. Jesse Teller could still benefit from more exposition and explaining how his world works but compared to some authors who deluge their readers in world-building, it's nice to have something which assumes the reader is paying attention.

Available here

Last modified on Saturday, 25 September 2021 04:47
C.T. Phipps

C.T Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger on "The United Federation of Charles".

He's written Agent G, Cthulhu Armageddon, Lucifer's Star, and The Supervillainy Saga.