*I received a free copy of this book. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*
Blurb: Gabe thought he had covered all the angles, but it’s tough to plan a contingency for accidentally trapping an evil god in your brain.
Gabriel Delling might call himself a professional con artist, but when walking superstitions start trying to bite his face off, his charm is shockingly unhelpful. It turns out living nightmares almost never appreciate a good joke.
Together with a succubus who insists on constantly saving his life, Gabe desperately tries to survive a new reality that suddenly features demons, legends, and a giant locust named Dale—all of whom pretty much hate his guts.
And when an ancient horror comes hunting for the spirit locked in his head, Gabe finds himself faced with the excruciating choice between death…or becoming some kind of freaking hero.
Hero Forged is the first book in the new series, Ethereal Earth, a modern fantasy adventure that challenges the natures of myth, humanity, and what it means to be the good guy.
Looks like I’ve got a new author to add to my personal pantheon of fantasy favourites!
Hero Forged is urban fantasy, bringing the old gods, myths and legends together in a glorious modern jumble of snark.
The plot is gripping with twists and turns, and whilst this can be read as a standalone novel with its own climactic resolution, the story threads clearly trail out tantalisingly towards a wider series arc.
Another strength here is the characterisation. Gabe is a ‘lovable rogue’ anti-hero and Heather a strong female co-lead, but the author has avoided lazy stereotypes by giving his characters their own unique voices, flaws and quirks. Josh Erikson also has an enjoyable knack for dialogic banter which lightens the tone and compliments the brisk pace of the action. I have a particular soft spot for Dale, and think there is loads of scope in his character for future plot twists.
Alert readers will notice a running theme of meta references to the art of story-crafting, including characters making references to plot, dialogue etc. I loved these little fourth wall breaks, as again, in a story fraught with danger and tension they added a touch of needed humour.
The ONLY thing I was not keen on here were the excerpts from Gabe’s book ‘CONscience’, which appear at the beginning of every chapter. I couldn’t tie in this tell-all confession with the motives of the Gabe we were seeing in the narrative, and even the tone struck me as po-faced and sermonising, rather than the wryly self-deprecating voice of our hero-ish. I could see what the author was doing with the snippets: giving insight into the life and deeply held beliefs of his conman character, however I didn’t feel it was necessary as his actions and dialogue spoke for themselves in that regard. I simply began skipping the chapter heading quotes and diving straight for the story, and that worked fine for me.
Other than that minor quibble, I LOVED this book, and will be purchasing a paperback copy of my own to place proudly amongst my Jim Butchers, Tom Holts and Jonathan McKinneys on my ‘keepers’ shelf. I have no higher praise!
“Let’s go,” he said, pushing through the secret door into the big storage room. “I have things to buy and a half-assed plan to finish.”
Heather followed obediently. “You know, you really don’t need to make that distinction when it’s the only kind of plan you ever have.”
– Josh Erikson, Hero Forged
Hero Forged is available on Amazon right now!