The Blue Blazes by Chuck Wendig. Book review

blazesTHE BLUE BLAZES by Chuck Wendig, Angry Robot, p/b £8.99, ebook £5.49

Reviewed by Glen Mehn

Let’s split up New York from around 1985, imagine that no one ever bought up the nasty bits on 42nd Street. Accelerate to today. There are million dollar lofts, but there are also gangs like the ones in the 70s and 80s Marvel comics New York: Rollergirls and men with paper bag masks. There are also goblins in the subways & sewers, plus a gateway to hell.

In this mix, meet Mookie Pearl, a massive bruiser who makes things happen for the Organisation: a shadowy mob which controls, among other things, the drug trade with hell. Mookie hurts people for the mob, however they need hurting, and to wind down, he makes and consumes charcuterie – dried, cured meats requiring finesse. Mookie is a classic dark hero with a heart of gold. He’s loyal to a fault, and to the serious detriment of his familial relationships. He’s a hero, but you’ll kind of hate him, and you’ll have good reason for doing so.

This book is Lovecraft – I can’t tell you about the Great Old Ones, as that would be really spoilery – mixed with late 70s era Daredevil. No one says “With great power comes great responsibility”, but that echoes through the book.

Wendig is maturing in this tome. The adventure is there, and the certain sense of hang on for the ride, but he pauses occasionally to chew over a bit. This isn’t his breakthrough book – there’s some reliance on stock situations and characters, and an occasional continuity slip – but Wendig’s taking a step up in ambition, and this is a good thing.

Inside here is an old-time superhero-style adventure, but the superhero is just a big, meaty guy who you should hate but you end up sort of admiring. There are mobsters. Daemons. Goblins. Weird crazy shadowy things. It’s a bang-up adventure book that’s the essence of fun, from someone who appears to be a serious emerging talent.