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I Belong

Review: Nightwise by R.S. Belcher

NightwiseTitle: Nightwise

Author: R.S. Belcher

Genre: Urban Fantasy

Series: Nightwise (Book #1)

Publication Date: August 18, 2015

Format: Hardcover, 320 Pages

ISBN-10: 0765374609 (Tor/Macmillan)

ISBN-13: 978-0765374608 (Tor/Macmillan)

Reviewed by: Kristie


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 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 ten, 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, D.C. to backwoods hollows and truckstops, while risking what’s left of his very soul . . . .

Quick & Dirty: Dark, gritty urban fantasy. The description of the world and magic system is overly technical and the main character is really hard to connect with. For fans who like the really dark side of urban fantasy.

Opening Sentence: The banker was crucified on the wall of his Wall Street office, fountain pens rammed through both wrists, an Armani Jesus.

Excerpt: Yes

The Review:

The synopsis is completely accurate when it says that this novel is a “gritty” and “seedy” urban fantasy. Nightwise is a trip to the dark side of humanity which includes a cold, hard look that the government has been tangling with our minds since the creation of the U.S. government. All with the use of magic! This novel took me some time to get into it, only because of how the character acted, but I did find this world quite genius.

Laytham Ballard is basically a rock star in the magical community. He is the one that you would call if you want some kind of spell broken or a magical artifact found. Laytham’s dying friend, Boj, wants to cash in on a favor that Laytham owes. Boj wants Laytham to kill the man that killed his wife at a Bosnian war camp. The only problem is that no one can seem to find Dusan Slorzack. He is hiding very well. And the clock is ticking for Boj. Laytham must find Dusan before Boj dies.

Laytham’s journey takes him to New York City, Washington D.C., Virginia and Chicago, meeting up with his equally strange friends in order to find Dusan. In his journey, he is attacked by some strange and terrible creatures. Laytham believes the Illuminate are behind Dusan’s disappearance and in his investigations he discovers a deeper government conspiracy.

Laytham uses his own brand of magic that includes chakra energies. The magical system takes from all belief systems where the magic is tailored to each individual person so that magic can be different for each person.

I immensely enjoy dark novels but what I didn’t really like about this one was that Ballard would throw complete strangers to the dark side and get them killed. There was no way he could get the demons or bad guys off of his trail without killing someone else. Laytham is the kind of guy that you want to have a heart of gold, but I had a hard time really liking the guy. His mentality of passing on death to people he didn’t know in order to save himself was kind of depressing.

This novel was pretty action packed. There were a few slow moments but not really. I think my issues came with the fact that I did have a hard time understanding some of the more technical terms regarding magic which slowed my reading down. Some of it is explained in a way I understood but there is a lot of technicality to the spells and magic is different for different people.

Nightwise is told entirely through Laytham’s first person point of view. He does often reminisce about his past in order to tell his story and how he has learned some of his lessons. There were some awesome side characters in this story, a transgendered Aborigine, a technomancer, a crazy skilled hacker and a beautiful young woman just learning that she has magical skills herself.

Overall, I would recommend Nightwise for fans who really like dark, gritty urban fantasies that don’t pull any punches. In the acknowledgements, the author said this novel came from a really dark time in his life and it translated to the pages. I did find the set up at the ending quite amusing and I would like to see where this story would lead to next.

Notable Scene:

She walked out of the room and shut the door. I was in darkness. My eyes adjusted to it. I became acclimated to the shadow. I felt my fear turn into something else, something I would struggle with my whole life—anger.

The fault is entirely mine. If I had listened to Granny, really listened, I might have had the strength inside to weather her passing, to not feel so alone in a hostile universe. “Mama tried.”

Granny tried to teach me compassion and understanding, tried to show me how beautiful it all was and how we were each part of the beauty, never alone. However, I fear it simply wasn’t in my nature. The universe taught me different lessons—taught me its indifference, its cruelty, and its love of irony. It taught me how alone we truly are in this world, in this skin, in ourselves.

So my response was a cold, angry resolve. A petulant, childish response. If the universe was gonna pick on me, be mean to me, then I’d be mean to the universe right back and hard. I still have that response upon occasion; I am still that angry, frightened child more often than I’d care to admit. Unlike many, though, in an act of ultimate cosmic irony, I was born with a way to strike back, and I did. Granny tried to warn me about that too, but I was just too angry to listen.

Nightwise Series:

1. Nightwise


FTC Advisory: Tor/Macmillan provided me with a copy of Nightwise. No goody bags, sponsorships, “material connections,” or bribes were exchanged for my review.


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