The Blue Blazes

The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig, Mookie Pearl #1

Meet Mookie Pearl.

Criminal underworld? He runs 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…

Last year I read my first Chuck Wendig book, Double Dead and I was very pleased with and hooked onto Chuck Wendig's writing style. He writes with a message, "You either love or hate my book and if it is the latter... I don't care." Chuck Wendig is perhaps best know for his Miriam Black series including Blackbirds (published by Angry Robot), The Blue Blazes marks his latest series dubbed "Mookie Pearl" which was published last year also by Angry Robot. Just as with the synopsis of Jay Posey's Three, The Blue Blazes created the same must read sense. You just know Mookie Peal to be a bad-ass, and trust me he is. Chuck Wendig kick-off an exciting new Urban Fantasy series, this is the good stuff. 

First off Mookie Pearl, what a piece of work he is... (meaning this in a positive way). He is a big guy, arms like tree trunks and when you need to get things done. Call. Mookie. Mookie is down right and dirty a hardened criminal that doesn't shy away when he has to finish a job where he is prone to get his hand dirty. He works for an organization knows simply as the Organization, this isn't your typical criminal underground syndicate, it has a definite supernatural twist added to it. I liked reading about Mookie, in the first few pages of the book he comes over as one bad-ass guy that you don't want to have working against you, there will be a guaranteed chance that you wont be left standing... Mookie gives the full 100% when he is working a job, he is determined to get things done. period. Now soon after this confrontational introduction to Mookie, Chuck Wendig soon included many more features to his character. You get to meet his daughter, Nora, to whom he more or less has a love-hate relationship, or I should say, Mookie loves her, but Nora hates him. Mookie does his best to make everything ok for Nora, but she doesn't want to let him in. Such a duality in protagonists is something that I enjoy reading about. On the one hand you have a tough guy and on the other hand you have a father who seeks redemption and makes everything ok. This might sound a bit cliche but if you this whole into the deadly setting of The Blue Blazes and look closely at the last scenes of the book, Chuck Wendig does an amazing job with showing how to write cool and complex characters. 

The story of The Blue Blazes, revolves on a mobster type of setting. Mookie works for the Organization, the sole ruler of the supernatural criminal Underworld. Other small time gangs don't stand a chance in the light... ehh dark of the Organization. The leader of the Organization tells his trusted followers, Mookie included, that he is dying of cancer, the terminal kind. Mookie is charged with going down below and finding a cure, in the form of a pigment known as Death's Hand (ill get to the pigments later on). In order to find a cure Mookie has to face a lot of challenges, going deep down into the depths of the underworld, the Great Below, where hellspawns and other demons make their living. All this just to find something that might not even exist... This is only one part of the story as Mookie is also trying to control his rebellious daughter Nora, who has had enough of her father and does one thing that no one wishes, she betrays her father and from this part on Mookie is torn between what he should do with Nora. It is long presumed that Nora killed the heir of the Organization but as the plot starts to unfold several things become clear and Mookie and his other companions start to connect several dots that eventually lead up to something much, much bigger than anyone dared to imagine. You know in urban fantasy there is one thing that is ubercool, when used in the correct way of course, and those are Gods. And BAM! Yes Chuck Wendig uses them in a terrific kind of way. The way that Chuck Wendig built up his story was perfect, introducing some great in-your-face characters, a problem only Mookie can solve, extra side tracks in the story that in the end all neatly coincide with each other and a lot of cool action. (and some profanity on the side). The plot twist in the end nicely transforms the whole premise of the story that you was led to believe and promises a lot for the sequel Bloody Bride.

As for the world building. What. A. Feat. We all know the supernatural main cities such as London and New York that feature a lot of Urban Fantasy stories. Well The Blue Blazes does feature in New York as well but with a completely different backdrop, than what I have read in other stories. Chuck Wendig shows that he has a great imagination and that he does fear to bring a completely new idea's to his books (Owing to the in-your-face writing). The New York that you read about is the same as your present day New York, however with a definite dark and gritty texture given to it that fully comes to resonate when you see the supernatural inhabitants of the world as well as when you delve into the Great Below. Both the world up top and the world below were shown in great detail, with Chuck Wendig's writing style the world felt like it was in continuous movement. What was also a plus to the story of The Blue Blazes were the chapter introduction There were some things that set the world of The Blue Blazes apart from the rest. Mainly the uniqueness with the heavy mobster-underground influenced world and the magic-system, if you can call it that, with the pigments. It's from these pigments that the book get it's title. I found this to be one of the coolest things I have read in UF lately. Forget your urban sorcerers and wizards, instead everyone can become "enhanced" by smearing, eating, inhaling and there are bound to be other methods as well. All throughout the Great Below there are sources of pigments, Cerulean or the blue blaze, is a powder that you smear on your temple and this drug will give you enhanced senses and power. These effects last temporary, and like many other drug, people are prone to get addicted to it. Besides the Cerulean there are also others, though famed and some even stuff of legends like Vermillion, known as Red Rage and the Violet Void known as Death's Head, each of these pigments hold tremendous power, which Chuck Wendig, luckily and kindly shares with his readers in full no-brakes color spectrum display. I very much liked the world that Chuck Wendig has created it has the dark and gritty texture, it's a tough world especially in the Great Below, the world is in non-stop motion, Chuck Wendig keeps throwing cool stuff at you when you are reading, and finishing this book left me with an empty feeling, it was over to soon. 

There are also many different races that make up the supernatural underworld like goblins (gobbos), naga's (snakefaces) were really cool to read about. They make up the majoirty of the background scene below and these are definitely not to be trusted. Don't think that these are the standard types of gobbos and snakeface, no, Chuck Wendig doesn't mind to give them his own touch and interpretation. But what is still true... you cannot trust any of these...

The Blue Blazes is a book where you will first say WOW what the hell is going and will secondly make your mouth drop and gape in awe with how powerful a story Chuck Wendig wrote. And thirdly you will wonder "Did he really just do that!?". It's great stuff guys if you are into reading Urban Fantasy this is definitely not a book that you want to miss out. The Blue Blazes has a great protagonist well fleshed out on many different fronts, not only the hard-ass from the beginning but with a softside as well. The secondary characters like Nora, Ernesto and Skelly are similarly like the main protagonist well rounded and versed. Added to this is the amazingly rich world with many aspects still to be uncovered. The plot twist in the end of the book was very neatly executed, raising a lot of promise for the sequel. I heard that Chuck Wendig wrote quite a few books last year but this didn't slow down The Blue Blazes at all. The whole book is really brought to life by the writingstyle that he employs, its part to the point and in your face but a true pleasure to read. In the end of The Blue Blazes it comes to show that Mookie's problems haven't completely disappeared... I have very high hopes to Bloody Bride. 


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