All right, all right, all right. I am really stretching here. The 2024 Winter Reading Challenge has a category Library/Bookstore Setting, but although I looked through my stacks for books on selling books (such as or Books: A Memoir by Larry McMurtry) or book collecting where the authors visit a bunch of book shops (such as Slightly Chipped by Lawrence and Nancy Goldstone, which I bought at Hooked on Books before I lived in Springfield, back when I stopped at Hooked on Books every time I came to Springfield, but now that I live in Springfield I don’t hardly ever go even though my church is across the street and my doctor’s office is next door). I looked for books with titles that clearly indicated that they took place in a bookstore or library (such as The Bookshop by Penelope Fitzgerald). But I could find none of these, and I didn’t want to spend time reading the backs of books to see what might qualify and I wanted to not have to go to the library for a “recommendation”–I wanted to draw all books this year from my personal stacks. Then I remembered an urban fantasy series where the main character owned a book store. I checked into the Dresden files by Jim Butcher (I read White Night in 2015), but that’s not it (which is unfortunate, as I have several facing out right behind my desk). But when I was tearing apart my stacks looking for a book for this category, I said, “Aha!”
I read the first book in the series, Obsidian Son, in 2017, and I bought this book the next year in 2018. I mentioned then that I had spoken to the author at his table about getting ready to test for my second-degree black belt, and I laughed when I opened the book and saw the inscription.
Five and a half years later, I’m in a similar position with pursuing my third degree. Back then, I punted the final testing date a couple of months because my boy(s) had cross country meets and First Lego League competitions on testing dates, although to be honest they weren’t that excited to come cheer me on in my testing. So much that I’m not expecting them to attend the third degree when I get there. I’ve been putting off the confirmations and the ultimate testing because my attendance has been somewhat spotty over the last couple of years, but it’s steadied at a class or two a week, and I’ve been concerned that I’m not getting in enough reps to be sharp enough to prove myself worth of the next degree–and most of my classes have been with children over the last four years–but I’m getting more comfortable with the thought. So I’ll likely work my way up to that next degree before the author of this book can go all General Patton on my continued slackerosity.
So, about this book:
Nate Temple has defeated the weredragons (from Obsidian Son) and is looking into his parents’ murder and how to unlock the secret armory of magic items they’ve hidden in their tech company’s headquarters. During his investigation, he visits a Kill bar, which is a bar where supernatural beings can kill each other with impunity, and he in quick succession defies a demon, angers an angel, gets wailed on by a werewolf, and gets kidnapped by a tribunal of wizards who also want the armory. He’s cursed with diminishing magickal powers unless he turns over the armory to the wizards and has to deal with demons and Nephilim hunting him while he tries to find the secret of the armory, who killed his parents, and who summoned the demons in an attempt to kick off Armageddon.
Silvers has a very kinetic and conversational first person narration style, especially compared to some books I’ve read lately, so the 320 pages flew by relatively quickly. I was in a bit of a bind, though, since through the first hundred or so pages, Nate Temple does not go to his book store at all. I was a little worried that he would not and that I would have to go back to the stacks, but fortunately he soon thereafter, in a battle with a nephilim and a demon, destroyed the bookstore. So a scene at a bookstore counts as far as I’m concerned.
The book does a good job of not being too particular in naming streets and whatnot (::cough, cough:: Guilty!), but it really lacks a sense of being set in St. Louis. It mentions being during Mardi Gras, but it says the whole city goes nuts for Mardi Gras–it’s really Soulard (named once in the book, eventually). But I don’t get any idea where Temple Industries is located; they mention the city jail, but you don’t get a sense of it being downtown (not Clayton, of course, that’s the county jail). He talks about going into a seedy area, but is it North St. Louis? Vanderloo? That corridor between Grand and the Central West End? A little more such detail would have spiced it up (but not so detailed that your book becomes obsolete when they change the intersection at Litzsinger and Lindbergh).
The book might suffer from some power inflation in the main character though. He’s put on the ropes with the curse, but he eventually transcends mere wizardry and can battle demons and angels to a standstill by the end of the book (and temporarily gets the powers of one of the Four Horsemen before being found not guilty in a trial of the Four Riders at the end of the book). I remember a couple books into the Anita Blake series by Laurell Hamilton (you know, that Klein girl from Heber) that Anita Blake kept getting laden with new powers which seemed to diminish her approachability as a character (also, she had the hots for werewolves and vampires and not printing press operators/coffee house poets, as I was at the time I read the first books in the series). I hope the same does not befall Nate Temple.
Apparently, I would have some catching up to do to catch up with Silver’s ongoing series–he has almost 30 books out now which means he’s publishing five per year (check my math). Amazing. And they’re a cut above the normal self-published fare. So I will likely pick up another book or two by him if I run into him again at a con or something. I really miss LibraryCon, which was free–Missouri Comic Con is this weekend here in Springfield, and I can’t justify $30 to walk around vendor booths and spend too much on self-published comic books and maybe meet (but not party with) Sam J. Jones from Flash Gordon (I have a martial arts class during his session anyway, and I do need to get that third degree anyway).
Where was I? Oh, good book. A quicker read than I remember from Larry Correia and Jim Butcher. Although maybe my speed to read it was partially influenced by the fact that it was the last book I needed for the Winter Reading Challenge.