Chuck Wendig’s The Blue Blazes caught my eye a while ago. I mean, how could it not with a summary like this:
Meet Mookie Pearl.
Criminal underworld? He runs in it.
Supernatural underworld? He hunts in it.
Nothing stops Mookie when he’s on the job.
But when his daughter takes up arms and opposes him, something’s gotta give…
And with other endorsements like Adam Christopher’s “The Blue Blazes is exactly my kind of supernatural mob crime novel,” I was sold. So I started reading this 400 page beast thinking I was in for a fun read.
Then I started reading. And the first 200 pages or so felt like more of a slog than a romp. Sure, a lot of the characters were interesting (especially Mookie). But I had a really hard time connecting with them. It also felt like the story didn’t really get going until about half way through the book. I blame the worldbuilding Wendig needed to impart to the reader (which he said was a challenge while writing the book in this interview). Yes, it was interesting, but it didn’t make for fun reading.
The story does get quite good after those first 00 pages though. Mookie journeys far deeper into the underworld than most people would dare to go, hunting for one of the occulted pigments that is rumoured to stop death. He is being chased by a being reminiscent of a Lovecraftian Elder God, all the while trying to stop his daughter from causing all sorts of chaos within the mob. And each chapter starts with scraps from the journals of John Atticus Oakes, the self-styled Cartographer of the Great Below; those scraps in themselves were quite enjoyable, making a story on their own.
So that was the Blue Blazes. Criminal underworld? Falling apart. Supernatural underworld? Scary as heck. A slog through the first bit. But well worth it in the end.
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