Book Review: Nightwise

Nightwise by R.S. Belcher

In the more shadowy corners of the world, frequented by angels and demons and everything in-between, Laytham Ballard is a legend. It’s said he raised the dead at the age of ten, stole the Philosopher’s Stone in Vegas back in 1999, and survived the bloodsucking kiss of the Mosquito Queen. Wise in the hidden ways of the night, he’s also a cynical bastard who stopped thinking of himself as the good guy a long time ago.

Now a promise to a dying friend has Ballard on the trail of an escaped Serbian war criminal with friends in both high and low places—and a sinister history of blood sacrifices. Ballard is hell-bent on making Dusan Slorzack pay for his numerous atrocities, but Slorzack seems to have literally dropped off the face of the Earth, beyond the reach of his enemies, the Illuminati, and maybe even the Devil himself. To find Slorzack, Ballard must follow a winding, treacherous path that stretches from Wall Street and Washington, D.C. to backwoods hollows and truckstops, while risking what’s left of his very soul . . . .

R.S. Belcher is best known for the cracking weird western story that he released a few years back, The Six-Gun Tarot and the sequel The Shotgun Arcana. In these book R.S. Belcher proved that he had some definite skill. This year he doesn't come with the third installment of the Golgotha series, but with a whole new book Nightwise, an in your face Urban Fantasy story. It is quite different then Golgotha, R.S. Belcher really shows that he has much more up his sleeve!

What readily falls to note from the first sentence of the book is that the tone of Nightwise is dark. I will come back to one thing that say very often. Urban Fantasy is diverse, and it just comes to show again so with R.S. Belcher's interpretation. Nightwise is definitely one the darkest stories I have read before.  

Nightwise follows the dark trail of Laytham Ballard, who is more than just human, he is strong in the Life (comparable to being an Urban Wizard). When Laytham was a young boy he managed to revive a squirrel and his own grandmother... Over the years he has grown to be a big name in the supernatural circuit, not just a name though, but also a person to be feared, much. The story begins when a dying friend of his called Boj asks Laytham to find a powerful wizard and not just any wizard, a Serbian criminal called Dusan Slorzack. Laytham is skilled in finding things, so this should be a done deal for him, well if only. The connections that Laytham has made over the years does help him to gather clues but in the world of criminals and hustler it remains to be see on who you can and can't trust.  

Though this premise might sound as not all that much, you have to consider this book on the whole. Because during the investigation that Laytham carries out, R.S. Belcher does show a tremendous amount of the world itself, showing how Laytham's "friends" are, and you get to see a big back story of himself. This for me is perhaps where part of the strength lies. 

When you first read about Laytham, the way he acts, the chain smoking, the badass attitude and a lot more, it paints a picture of him. To be completely honest, in the beginning of the book I was a bit put off and wondering if it all was just too much of trying to paint a dark picture, but then all of a sudden the explanations comes on what Laytham is and how he got to be what he is. One scene that I can still vividly remind is the part where Laytham was being babysit and things got out of hand. This for me, in the grim and dark setting, did pack something emotional. And even though Laytham can be quite an ass sometimes, when you read this part it does smooth out a bit and when you then think twice about what he has become, it makes more sense. 

Another part where Nightwise really gets its strength from is the immensely rich world. First off just as with Laytham being a dark and mysterious character so is it with the world that we see. Just take the part with the white lighter for example, the urban myth surrounding it that some well known people were found with a white lighter in their pockets. How R.S. Belcher weaves this into his story with Laytham is well pretty awesome. Added to this comes the intrigueing magic system, there are plenty of stories that show urban magic, but in Nightwise it closely resembles a chakra based system which for me adds again something more mysterious to the series. Where R.S. Belcher also doesn't shy away from showing some godly entities, their powers and meddlesomeness. 

Nightwise is what R.S. Belcher does best. Creating that story that ventures into new things, hard and brutal. Some elements of Nightwise are similar to his earlier two books but in the way that he integrates it with the Urban Fantasy it is just pretty darn awesome. Nightwise is made by addicted by the writing style and narration that is employed, the first person narration from Laytham point of view gives that extra dimension to the story. It also comes to show that he isn't untouchable, with all his power he also has to watch his step. The story telling itself is show less at some points but this is all recaptured at the some crucial points where you get a nice background of how some things came to be. All in all an in your face Urban Fantasy adventure with one of the baddest protagonists that I have read so far. Awesome stuff


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