Urban Fantasy Review: ‘Nightwise’ by R.S. Belcher

NightwiseI think I have used this opening once or twice over the last few years but it still rings true. I wasn’t sure I was going to finish this book after reading the first fifty pages or so. After getting over what we shall refer to as the ‘WTF hump’ I knew this book had me interested enough to finish but knew a few problematic points would ultimately hamper my enjoyment. I was pleasantly surprised by the end though; at a few points I had no idea how we had reached our current situation but I was enjoying the hell out of the ride.

As a fan of Belcher’s weird west series I should have known what to expect going into this new urban fantasy run. In fact this could almost be the same series, ripped right from one setting and placed in another. A lead character is born with some very unique magical gifts. Said character then has everything but the kitchen sink thrown at him in a loose plotline that cares a bit more about movement than sense.

If ever you have read Simon R. Green’s insanity disguised as fantasy you may have an idea of what to be prepared for here though I much preferred Belcher’s vision of an insane world to Green’s. If not let me give you a peak behind the curtain. Within these pages you will learn how a magical conspiracy may have been behind 9-11. You will see magic based on LSD, old Fae powers, and popular music. Human depravity of every kind is present. On the negative side of the ledger we see that our antihero can use his magic to influence women into bed (though he backs out of it before following through with this heinous act it is not out of goodwill but rather a lack of time). On the positive side of it I am hard pressed to think of a better or more creative final reveal in the long conspiracy that is being unraveled.

To enjoy this book one has to like anti-heroes and redemption opportunities.  Anti hero isn’t right, no, outright asshole is a better choice of terms here. Obviously there is a huge audience for this and at times I am one of them. But there also has to be a bit of forgiveness for a rather loose plot that leaves it real easy to forget that the main villain’s motivation and the protagonist’s involvement with him is less than clear. Still, the colorful cast of characters alone may be worth flipping the book open for. And a mid-book scene with a young man and his beloved grandma is surprisingly heart-wrenching.

For an urban fantasy with a little something different this is a book I can recommend with a few reservations. The plotting is quick enough to hide some issues but there are certainly some questions I couldn’t answer after reading though. And, by design mind, the main character comes through his ‘redemption’ as unlikable as ever.

For myself, I guess this style worked better for me in the ‘weird west,’ I am not nearly as enamored with this new series as I was with Six-Gun Tarot.

3 stars

Copy for review provided by publisher.

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