Fantasy Review: ‘The Holver Alley Crew’ by Marshall Ryan Maresca

The opening to my favorite fantasy series of all time begins with a city on fire. The Holver Alley Crew starts with a city on fire. This says absolutely nothing about the book, nor are there any comparisons to be made to The Color of Magic here, it is just an observation.

Maradaine is a city that has appeared in two series previous but The Holver Alley Crew is the start of its own series within the series; I had absolutely no previous experience with the author myself and this book felt like the start of something completely new.

Thrown right into the action we meet the Rynax brothers as they awaken to a fire threatening not just their homes and business but the entire neighborhood. When the smoke clears they come to the realization that all their previous plans are for naught. They are two old criminals who tried to go strait and now have nothing but debt to show for it. What is there to do? Go back to the old work of course.

Ultimately this is a buddy heist type of book complete with lovable misfit cast. The Rynax brothers are thieves with a heart of gold bronze tarnished tin. They may steal and kill but they have morals, damn it, rules on who is allowed to be killed passed on by their daddy. They are soon joined by a sharpshooter and the gentle giant, a plucky street kid with skills way beyond what a life of begging should allow, and finally Q from the James Bond films (a chemist with ALL the cool new toys). Together for a heist they learn together that they may have a larger purpose as it becomes clear the fire was deliberately set their plucky crew is the only one who can dole out appropriate justice!

Sadly, though fun, almost nothing was memorable enough to leave any kind of impression. If one is looking for a heist novel no matter what The Holver Alley Crew will suffice; it is entertaining in a way and absolutely has some highlight moments (the creative way a mage is taking out of the protection picture is genius). But it is a straight forward path with no real suspense or surprises. Nothing about the plans these brothers put together is particularly noteworthy, nor are any of the crew’s interactions. The banter is lacking, the emotional appeal is lacking, and the payoff is fairly unremarkable.

If fantasy literature got the respect it deserved this would be a novel found at the checkstand at the local grocery store. Not the novel that one would brag about reading to their friends but a novel one would have no problem grabbing before their next business trip for some easy reading. And in that capacity it absolutely works; it is almost certainly better than most the thriller of the month book options. Beyond that though there isn’t much to say; empty calories are ok sometimes but not what I am hoping for when grabbing a new treat.

3 Stars

Copy for review provided by publisher.


25 thoughts on “Fantasy Review: ‘The Holver Alley Crew’ by Marshall Ryan Maresca

  1. I love the covers for these books and had high hopes for the series. Now I’m wondering if it is my kind of thing or not. Hmmm, really not sure about it one way or the other! I might pick it up if I find it free somewhere. Great review!


  2. This book did catch my attention when it started appearing all over the ‘net, and I thought it would be a fun, interesting read. And “fun” does not necessarily mean that the book should be light on content… Now that I’ve read your comment about empty calories, my enthusiasm has cooled a little, although this could be the perfect book to read between heavier stories, much like a palate-clearing sherbet… 😀


  3. The character set sounds like they could really get up to some crazy stuff… pity it didn’t deliver on the banter nor emotional appeal. I think it’s most heartbreaking when there’s a whole lot of potential that isn’t being used… however, it seems the book wasn’t a complete writeoff 🙂


  4. I know exactly the kind of novel you mean in your last paragraph. So far I think all the Maradaine novels have been like that, so on some level I might have had some inkling beforehand what to expect going into The Holver Alley Crew. For a popcorn book, it’s one of the better ones I’ve read though 🙂


  5. I went into this review with hopes. I am okay with fun reads that do not always linger. Sometimes I just need something to pass the time 😉 But I have to admit, I need an element of surprise at some point. Something to up the ante. I may have to pass on this, but I am glad that it was not a total loss!


    • Banter does seem to be a must in this style doesn’t it? I am trying to think of a more serious heist novel; I guess Death of the Necromancer by Martha Wells? That is the only one i am coming up with.


  6. If I’m having empty calories I’ll stick to wine! I had been keeping my eye on this series as a potential one to pick up once complete. I’ll keep an open mind on it for now but it’s a shame this one let you down a little.
    Lynn 😀


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