R.S. Belcher, the acclaimed author of The Six-Gun Tarot and The Shotgun Arcana, launches a gritty new urban fantasy series set in today's seedy occult underworld in Nightwise.
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 10, 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, DC, to backwoods hollows and truck stops while risking what's left of his very soul....
©2015 Rod Belcher (P)2015 Audible, Inc.
An urban fantasy that does not follow the tired template of a wizard (vampire, werewolf, angel…) attempting to redeem himself from his dark past and facing off against an evil wizard (vampire, werewolf, demon, former teacher/master…) who wants to steal or possesses a magical object or raise a demon/god (supernatural villains are pretty limited in imagination) in order to control/destroy the world. Despite his superior powers, our hero is only able to prevail with the help of his friends and a valuable lesson is learned by all.
Laytham Ballard is a magic-using, drug-using, people-using anti-hero. He’s capable of being a truly bad guy, has a truly bad past and is not particularly haunted by that (though he plays lip service to guilt and has a conscious when it suits him). An outstandingly refreshing character in a genre where the idea of a bad-boy protagonist is a guy with the thinnest veneer of roguishness covering his heart of gold.
Despite plot being secondary to the characters in this book, I don't want to risk spoiling it. Suffice to say that the story itself is more than serviceable.
That Bronson Pinchot is outstanding should go without saying.
Highly recommended.In response to a couple of objections by other reviewers:
Freaky sex (S&M). This is mentioned for a short time early in the book followed a bit later by a single sex scene that can easily be skipped. In the last 3/4 of the book sex of any kind does not come up in any meaningful way. Perhaps reading the whole book before writing a review would be helpful to all.
The main character being arrogant/narcissistic/a trash-talker. First urban fantasy novel?
Latham is convinced he's a rock star magician or "Wisdom", he's kind of a jerk, can be self-serving, impulsive, and has a killer West Virginia accent. I had no problem liking this character throughout the story, in spite of his faults. Latham is also a little bit 50 shades. An extremely unique character and now one of my favorites along with Sandman Slim. If the BDSM lifestyle puts you off (it's not a huge part of the book- but it's a normal part of a lot of the main characters lives) or you don't like foul language, sex, or violence then this book isn't for you. It's NOT Dresden. What is it to me? is A fantastic, unique, story that is wonderfully narrated by Bronson Pinchot. I hope there is another installment.
I devour books like a trash compactor.
The voice of the main character, all his aspects...basically the main character.
Incorruptible, Thomas Hunter Files Vol 1, because the world is dark, the magic gritty, the character is a smart ass.
No, but I loved Bronson Pinchot who was the perfect voice for Lathan Ballard.
I laughed, of course.
I search high and low for urban fantasy that is dark, gritty and interesting, the way I think it should be. I don't want to see elves who look like Orlando Bloom ever again in my life. I need to spend my time with a character who isn't afraid to swear, take risks, bleed. I don't want see the hero casting spells. I need to see him pulling power from within, paying with blood or sanity or both. And I want to see actual cases that an occult detective could investigate. Nightwise hit on every cylinder. I loved it from start to finish and I would like another one, please.
This novel is very well done. However - it is NOT for the faint of heart or for people who get queasy. This should come with an NC-17 rating as it is obviously is only meant for adults. Sex, Drugs, Violence, S&M - mixed with magic in a gritty telling of the underbelly of "The Life". The content is very volatile but the author has moments of prose that Byron or Shelly would be envious of. The only downside is that it ended too soon.
Bronson Pinchot needs to give seminars on how to read books - he is one of the best narrators out there and never fails to deliver. He really brought the novel to life and the separation of characters in his vocal acting makes it that much more visceral and real.
I recommend this audio book to those who aren't afraid to take chances and aren't afraid to face the gritty reality that lives in our world - ok so we have the depravity without the spells and magic, at least this story makes it a little bit better.
I loved the dark tone and flawed characters. I loved how the author weaved different ideas from global mythology, actual events, and his own morbid imagination to create a richly detailed and totally badass world.
Also, to the haters on goodreads: yes, of course the antihero is self-delusional, arrogant, fucked up, immature, and at times completely despicable. He's an antihero, not a hero who happens to smoke.
The aside about Chucky Cheese is particularly memorable. I enjoyed also the spell with the white lighter. This is a weird question as I can't really answer it without spoilers.
The main character. As a 1st person pov book, the main character is by far the most developed.
Sex, drugs, and black magic
I normally listen to books on my commute. But I couldn't put this one down so I spent some extra time driving in circles and the better part of two days with headphones on.
The writing is engaging and the performer delivers it well.
The story is a well-realized story typical of the genre. Main character is tough, talented and respected and from the South. He's 'experienced' in the school of hard knocks; has lots of impressive alternative, drug related magic. The writer is skillful at painting the dystopian world, so a good choice for fans of magic, dystopia, and tough-as-nails hard-boiled detective-type. He owes someone a favor and it involves tracking down and exacting vengeance on a despicable person.
But the descent into depravity of some characters is more than I can stomach. I left at the nightclub scene where he walks thru a room dedicated to customers who enjoy real, live, 'snuff' action and reflects on how this used to bother him. I don't need these scenes in my head.
One wild ride...
Laytham was my fav because for a guy who is painted the selfish prick he seems to have to fight to be as big a jerk as he sounds. I hope in the sequel it will explain a little more of his backstory.
Great dialect and inflection.
Uhh, the torture in Rikers, I think it was, was pretty freaking graphic... If I see a straight razor I shudder because of those scenes.
Great book. I was a little concerned as this is a new genre for me, but it was very good and I will be exploring some other titles. If only Belcher's other acclaimed novels were on Audible I would definitely try them out.
Even though I personally liked Belcher's Six-Gun Tarot much more than this, I would highly recommend this book as well to any and all who like urban fantasy. If you're a fan of Dresden Files or the Felix Castor novels, you're sure to like this. While Jim Butcher's series takes a while to take off, this book hits the ground running on the first page and is solid from start to finish.
I really liked the fact that Laytham is a complete asshole. There are so many PI/detective/cop/whatever that are rough around the edges, jaded, world-weary etc and it's become quite cliche. Belcher draws on this cliche, but dares to push it a bit further. (Don't get me wrong, it's not like he's a completely original character, he's a LOT like John Constantine - but hey I'm not complaining). Laytham is a really enjoyable character, despite being neither the good-guy or really even a good guy. I think maybe it's because he acknowledges himself that he's an asshole, the way he's unapologetic and at the same time humble about it, that makes us (me the reader and the other characters) really like him despite all the crap. He's not trying to fool anyone, he won't trick or sleaze you, he'll tell you to your face that he's doesn't give a crap about you and is just using you and he doesn't expect you to give a shit back, but that's why you feel you can trust him and like having him around.
Bronson Pinchot is a great narrator and because of him this is one of the few books I can imagine wanting to listen to again. Especially the flashback parts of the story were so touching and he delivered the character of young Laytham and his grandma so well that I wish I could have more of them! The story is told in first person and Pinchot really sounded like he was Laytham talking to himself, he wasn't reading me a story, he was Laytham's stream of consciousness, even to the point where he would chuckle a little to himself as if he thought something he said was clever. I find it's hard to explain exactly, but I felt he really made the first person narrator come alive as a person, an individual with a personality - it felt like someone was telling a story, not reading one.
The only reason why Pinchot doesn't get a full 5 stars from me, is that all his foreign accents sounded too much alike. When it came to Magdalena is was sort of fine, because her accent is supposed to have an indeterminable accent because of her mixed background, but Ichi sounded like a drunk Frenchman sometimes and everyone with a foreign accent sounded too similar. I think he just needs more practise nailing specific accents, because the different American dialects/sosiolects/accents were amazing!
BUT in no way let this keep you from listening to the audiobook, this is a minor detail and does not detract from the joy it was listening to this book!
Bronson Pinchot brings this story to life in vivid detail. The story begins with great mystery but unfortunately ends in convention and cliche.
"Be in no doubt he is not a "Good guy""
The story is about a bad man and an adventure he goes on for an old friend.
"Along depressing lack of story"
The narrator did a good job it was the product that failed.
No, It started as a depressing "story" and meandered endlessly.
The main character was a badly written drug addict, and the other people were one dimensional with no real purpose to the plot (or lack of it). It ends with a nod to a series but I only struggled to the end to see if there was a conclusion.
I got this because of the good reviews and the fact that it was likened to Harry Dresden....... In my opinion it is not! It lacks the humor, sadness and people that one can care about in a H.D. tale. It was one long dirge of misery that I found I kept tuning out of.
I'm sending it back.
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