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Publisher's Summary

Psychic. Superhero. Spy. Detective. Bounty hunter. Ashley Morgan has been many things and failed at all of them. The 28-year old has her whole life ahead of her but has already resigned herself to working a dead-end job bringing in the debt-ridden supernatural criminals of New Detroit. 

A chance encounter with the vampire sheriff reveals a secret that motivates her to change her life forever: Her long-missing brother Arthur is alive (in a manner of speaking).

Ashley sets out on a quest to not only find him but also deal with old lovers, treacherous criminals, a magic sword, and a quest to raise an ancient vampire from the dead.

Brightblade is set in the same world as the Red Room series, The Bright Falls Mysteries, and Straight Outta Fangton.

©2019 Charles Phipps; Michael Suttkus (P)2019 David N. Wilson

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

A great new entry into a wider universe.


I have been a huge fan of the various books C.T. Phipps and Michael Suttkus have co-written. When I heard that Michael would be taking lead on a new series set in the United States of Monsters universe, I was ecstatic, and happily took an offered review copy. I can happily say that not only does it fit into the universe, but charts in own course, adding new layers to what they have been creating in other books in the universe.

PLOT SUMMARY

Ashley Morgan is a bounty hunter working with her partners at a bail bonds in New Detroit, which is where the vampires made their base of power after they came out into the open when they bailed out the government in the economic crash of 2008. With the vampires and other supernaturals gaining legal status, the Red Room, who policed the hidden supernatural world, find themselves out of a job. This leaves people like Morgan's family suddenly without support and at loose ends. In Morgan's case, she took her status as a Bright, which means she has mental abilities, and tried to become a costumed superhero. Having telekinesis and being an empath apparently weren't enough to get the job done, so she quit that.

Morgan's firm specializes by bailing out supernaturals. Unfortunately, when they skip bail, it means vanilla humans cant go get them. Its up to Morgan and her team to bring them back and collect. After the capture of a bail jumper goes sideways, the vampire sheriff shows up to take him into custody, in exchange for information about where Ashley's missing brother is. Planning on following up, Ashley has to take an artifact they were paid for a job to the supernatural's bank for deposit. Unfortunately, that's the exact moment three supernatural's decide to rob the bank for another artifact. This leads to a battle between Ashley and the three robbers, who manage to get away, with Ashley being injured.

Ashley wakes up in a strange room, feeling unusual. It turns out that she's at her brother's apartment over the club he owns. She also discovers that she almost died, and had to be saved with vampire blood from her brother, who is now a vampire, thus making her a dhampir. This is awful news to Ashley, who was raised to hate vampires. Ashley finds out the reason for the bank robbery, which was to get an artifact that can raise a dead vampire lord, who can use the wand to turn vampires human again, something the vampires will do anything to avoid. This leads Ashley and her brothers group into conflict with a powerful vampire family bent of gaining power, who will stop at nothing to gain it. It doesn't help that one of the main conspirators is one of Ashley's ex's, who apparently was even worse than she seemed. Ashley and crew must stop them before they bring about the end of the vampire nation, all while keeping Ashley from turning full vamp herself. Ashley needs all her abilities, both old and new, to survive until the end, with a lot of twists and turns along the way.

CHARACTERS AND WORLD BUILDING

Like anything having to do with Michael Suttkus and C.T. Phipps, characters are what drive the story. Ashley is such a well written character, strong, determined and vulnerable by turns. She has deep prejudices ingrained in her by growing up in the Red Room environment, but struggles to be honest and fair. Her hatred of vampires is so at odds with what her brother has become, and it's that conflict that helps driver her actions. Her bonding a mystical weapon also creates some funny moments, as she now has a rather loud "conscience" pushing her to do the right things. The other characters are also so much fun. From Arthur, Ashley's vampire brother, to Alex, her wizard ex, the secondary characters get so much care and development. they get fully fleshed out. The villain of the story actually has very little face time in the book, so doesn't get as much first hand attention, but is discussed at length throughout the book.

The world building is definitely sold. It expands upon the world created in Straight Outta Fangton, Esoterrorism and I Was a Teenage Weredeer. The fall of the Red Room is explained more in this one than the others, with some more of the ancillary work done there explained. New Detroit is expanded on past where its been shown before, really giving a look into the various territories the city is split into. It is definitely an expanded world ripe for future stories.

NARRATION

Narration duties are handled well by Heather Costa. She really brings the characters to life using various tones, accents and cadence. Her narrative pacing is spot on, and she really gets you hooked as she goes.

FINAL THOUGHTS

Any time you spin off a series with new characters, it has a chance of failing. Luckily, they took what worked with the other books in this universe, namely excellent characters, snappy dialogue and a fast paced plot and created a great addition to the universe. If you like any other books by these authors, you'll like this one. I think it has a lot of appeal for any fans of urban fantasy, and has lots of potential places to go.

4 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic book

I haven’t enjoyed a book some much in ages! This book had me laughing at loud at times. The jokes and sarcasm are spot on. The narrator is great and made the book even better.

I received a copy of this book in return for my honest opinion which I have given.

3 people found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars

Fun new series in The United States of Monsters

This is the first book in a new series, but set in a very familiar world (Phipps has a lot of series set in this world, Secret Files of the Red Room, Bright Falls Mysteries and Straight Outta Fangton, which is dubbed The United States of Monsters Universe). Ashley Morgan is a PI and Bounty Hunter. Her parents were part of the Red Room. She also has a real dislike of vampires. And this most recent case, puts her right into the thick of them.

Ashley is a “bright”, which means she is more than human. She has very strong empathic power and is able to tell when people are telling the truth based on how they’re feeling when they’re talking. She even tried her hand at being a superhero for a bit, but that didn’t work out so well.

This is a fun story. I loved learning more about these characters and really want to spend more time with them. I also got to see some characters from other series. Peter Stone, the main character from Straight Outta Fangton. I love Peter and I will take any time I can spend with him, even if he has only a small part here. Alex, from Bright Falls series, has a larger part. He is Ashley’s ex-boyfriend and a wizard. Ashley also has a sword that is inhabited by an angel. I really liked the angel.

I do love an investigative type story (be it cop drama or PI style investigations). This one is a fun one with a paranormal style. You can read this story without having read the other series, though there are spoilers in this book that will tell you about events in other series.

This has the humor that I’ve come to expect from Phipps and Suttkus. Like always, I love the pop culture references. This is the first time I’ve heard a Smurfs reference in a book (it was my favorite cartoon as a kid. I still have a ton of those little figurines). Most of the pop culture references are a bit more on the nerdy sci-fi angle, but I love when there are others.

While I think you could follow along if you started with this series, I would probably recommend starting with the Bright Falls Mysteries or Straight Outta Fangton if I were to give you a recommendation on where to start this Universe.

Narration
This is my first listen from Heather Costa. I really liked her narration. I thought she did a good job bringing out the personality of the characters. If I was going to fault her, it would be that the voice of the sword sounded female to me. It was later when I heard Ashley refer to it as “him” that I realize it wasn’t a female angel. That being said, I really liked her narration and would listen to her again.

**I received a free copy of this book and voluntarily chose to review it.

2 people found this helpful

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Great Storytelling

I loved the story, and it is a nice expansion to an existing world. Loved the story and narration.

2 people found this helpful

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Another Great Entry Into This Universe

4.25 out of 5 stars

Every time I think I have the worlds of C.T. Phipps figured out - he's able to throw and entire new book into that world and surprise me. Brightblade was a new entry into the same universe as the The Bright Falls Mysteries and Straight Outta Fangton - so the setting is semi-familiar.  Some of the characters cross-over. It has that comfort of a familiar universe, but seeing it from a different perspective.  Like re-visiting your home town after you've moved away.  You see the grit and the good.

The character development of Ashley Morgan was obviously the star of this audiobook.  Suttkus and Phipps are able to create such interesting and easy-to-root-for characters in their worlds.  Ashley was no different.  She was different and a little bit rough to start, and as the story progresses you start to like her more and more.  She does things that feel correct for her character while also moving the story along.  She wasn't as witty or smart-alecky as the other characters I'm used to reading from these authors - but that's not to say that that book didn't have its comedic moments.  There were just less of them in Brightblade than in other entries in this universe.

There were two specific parts that really stood out to me where the comedy shines through.  One was a moment where they were talking about Jane Doe (and they were talking about what he name was and that she was a Weredeer).  The laughter and jokes there were just right and exactly how someone who didn't know Jane would react.  The other was in the description of a specific way that certain female characters are portrayed on Fantasy (especially Urban Fantasy) novels. I got a good chuckle out of that one.

Obviously, as I just stated above - character development is where these authors shine.  The action is nothing to laugh at either.  They are able to write short and succinct action scenes that feel like they last as long as they should.  There's no drawn out shoot outs, magic displays, and other fantasy elements.  It's right to the point while still being entertaining.

Overall, I thought that Brightblade was a great entry into this universe and an interesting story to listen to.  The audiobook absolutely flew by due to the great narration of Heather Costa.  I just felt like she took me right into that world and wouldn't let me go until the book ended. A great performance.

So, since this is touted as a series - I'm sure there will be more entries in it.  I'm intrigued to see where Suttkus and Phipps take Ashley Morgan in the upcoming books. I'm also intrigued to see where and when the other characters are going to show up.

2 people found this helpful

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Another great edition to Phipps’ World

If you are a fan of Phipps weredeer and Gangtok series, then you’ll love this addition to the world. Now we’re following a psychic bounty hunter trying to navigate the world where the paranormal creatures walk out in the open and living along us. I won’t say more to not spoil anything, but definitely a good read.

1 person found this helpful

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Another great book!

This is another great addition to the United States of Monsters series of books. For those who are familiar CT has several other series in this universe. The Bright Falls Mysteries, Esoterrorism, and Fangton. This series connects to the others with character overlap some and other odds and ends. Where the Bright Falls series excels in presenting a Buffy and Riverdale vibe while being very original to itself. Brightblade strikes me more as having a bit of a Constantine vibe. The characters feel fresh and original, though some are from other series. And it could be easily said that several of the side characters feel strong enough in their own story to support a main character narrative of their own. Particularly Alex or Samvrutha are both strong characters that have a great deal of depth and you care about them easily. Overall I am really interested to see where Ashley's story goes next.

1 person found this helpful

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Great listen!

I loved the new characters and location in this book. Great work with the crossover characters from Weredeer books. The world building continues to expand is a lot of fun. This is a new to me author & has quickly become one of my favorites. A lot of action, magic, sarcasm, humor, and subterfuge. Definitely an author to follow!

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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Exciting and fun

Full of enjoyable pop references loved by all SciFi geeks, and action a plenty! It may not be literature, but it entertains and scratches that itch to take your own destiny in hand in the form of a flaming angel sword.

1 person found this helpful

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another great book

it was pretty good. there was one part when everyone is talking to each other and I got lost and had to redo about a minute. I will be getting the next one.

1 person found this helpful

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  • erobbins33
  • 10-18-20

Fun!

As someone who has read Phipps' other work, I can say that this one definitely stands up to his hilarious, snarky goodness. There were plenty of mentions to characters in his other series, but no spoilers and no worries if you haven't read anything else by him. I enjoyed Costa's performance. Definitely reccomend.

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  • Inishowen Cailin
  • 04-02-20

Not for me

Normally I enjoy this genre but I found it quite difficult to get into this book. There was an awful lot going on. The book is populated by every kind of supernatural being you can think of. There's also a heavy dose of pop culture references and snappy dialogue. I enjoyed the banter between the characters but I didn't feel connected to them beyond this.
Plenty of people will enjoy this book, it just wasn't to my taste.

I voluntarily reviewed an advance copy.

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  • J Smith
  • 02-20-20

“Judge not lest ye something something”

Charles Phipps never fails to satisfy and he does more of his never failing here!
I felt it falls somewhere between the ridiculousness and fast-pacing of his Supervilliany books and the slower, soap opera of his Lucifer’s Star series.
Really enjoyable, plenty of action and a whole load of magic and vampirey type stuff to get your teeth into (see what I did there!?).
Well narrated by Heather too.
This is my honest opinion of a free review copy.

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  • Curly's Ramblings
  • 12-09-19

Interesting

Entertaining story and interesting characters. Sound plot and storyline. The narrator did a good job. I received a free copy of this audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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  • Jeff
  • 12-04-19

C t phipps just gotta have more

J P morgan yeah how did you come up with that one. this book is a trip and lots of querks not twerks all the way through although twerking may have made it even better.

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  • Anders Haywood
  • 03-21-20

Phenomenal new series!

Although this is part of Phipps' United States of Monsters books, you don't need to have read any to get stuck into this.
To avoid spoilers, I won't go into plot details, but, as a fan of Urban Fantasy books, this was a rare gem. The pacing was solid, I genuinely didn't see the twists coming, and the characters were really well fleshed out.
The narrator was also quite good, and fit the story perfectly.
I would absolutely recommend giving this a try if you like Urban Fantasy books. You won't be disappointed.