Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher (Dead Jack #2) by James Aquilone - Book Review

Write on: Thu, 04 Jun 2020 by  in Max's Reviews Read 3072

Zombies and pixies and skeletons, oh my! No, these aren’t what you’d discover in a strange direct-to-dvd sequel to The Wizard of Oz; these are just some of the supernatural and fantasy creatures that hilariously grace the pages of the Dead Jack series. In Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher by James Aquilone, it’s up to Dead Jack – the drug-addicted private detective – and his band of misfits to save Pandemonium once again, and perhaps, learn a bit about himself in the process.

Still reeling from the previous apocalyptic event – and drowning his sorrows in drugs and games of Russian Roulette with a junky brownie – Jack only wants his homunculus side-kick, Oswald, to wake up from his coma. Unfortunately for Jack, his skeleton, zoot suit wearing buddy, Garry, has other plans. In a race to find their missing souls before it’s too late, the duo will join forces with old and new allies alike, while desperately trying to avoid the clutches of Nazis and the devil himself, Lucifer. 

“Conjuring a demon is old hat. It’s like Occult 101. An incantation. Fire. Candles. Blood. Mirrors. Graveyard dirt. A goat comes in handy sometimes. Or if you’re lucky, you get Lucifer’s calling card, like I did. But watching Lucifer himself conjure a demon is something to behold.”

Aquilone’s second book in the Dead Jack series is a true quest adventure, with each new discovery or event propelling the protagonists forward to the next chapter. Whether it’s an ancient book or a dastardly, world-ending device, Aquilone masterfully (and hysterically) takes genre tropes, flips them upside down and shakes them wildly before dropping them on their tired heads. Consistently offbeat and funny, it is hard not to laugh out loud at Jack’s frequent misadventures, as well as his miserable attitude towards life – and everyone (or thing) that surrounds him.

Just as with Dead Jack and the Pandemonium Device, Soul Catcher manages to include moments of introspection and personal discovery for Jack that are nothing short of sincere. This, in particular, is the reason why I find the Dead Jack books appealing: for stories that are meant to engage the reader through overt, non-stop adventure and amusement, Aquilone is adept at peppering in just the right amount of genuine humanity into the mix, ensuring his supernatural protagonists to be relatable.

Dead Jack and the Soul Catcher ups the raucous mayhem with unforgettable characters, punchy dialogue, and smart world-building. I cannot wait for future installments so I can laugh some more at the world’s greatest – or perhaps worst – zombie detective. 


Last modified on Thursday, 04 June 2020 21:46

Max’s passion for fantastic stories began with weekly trips to the comic book store as a child. Now an English teacher at a boarding school, he is always reading. Max has written for sites like Geeks of Doom and SF Signal, where he created the Indie Author Spotlight. Max lives in Connecticut with his wife – who graciously embraces his need to display action figures all over the house – and daughter, who is inheriting her parents’ affinity for books.