On the Shelf: Down a (Grim)Dark Alley

I won’t lie, it’s been a rough week (fortnight? Month? Year? Take a pick.) Right before Christmas, we had a plague scare with my youngest, Baby Bug. Luckily, she was negative, but she was still pretty sick, and of course there wasn’t any room at any urgent care anywhere. We came back, school started up, and she ended up catching it from her preschool. Luckily, Baby Bug is back to her normal, health, stinker self and is currently with her sister playing Encanto songs on repeat in the kitchen. But we’re not going to talk about … you know. YOU KNOW…

On the other hand, I’ve been able to get some reading done, and really enjoying the reading I’ve been doing. I’ve been diving down the dark fantasy rabbit hole, immersing myself in grim settings and antiheroes. If you’ve got a penchant for dirty deeds and dirty … well, people who live in a storage unit, you really should check out The Jubal County Saga by Bob McGough. It starts with Bringing Home the Rain, and the third book comes out today (and as soon as I finish posting this, I will be reading it from cover to cover on Kindle Unlimited.) The stories follow Howard Marsh, a “Methgician” — and no, I didn’t come up with that term and yes, it means exactly what you think it means. He’s a scruffy, down-on-his-luck addict who lives in a storage unit, next door to an attorney who also lives in the storage complex. The novels take place in a rural Mississippi county, where strange happenings occur and everyone knows to stay on Howard’s Granny’s good side or get hexed. His goals are pretty simple – make enough money to get high, find some female companionship, and stay off Granny’s radar. But underneath it, he can’t help the fact that he is a good man who has gone through some hard times. McGough is an excellent writer, and I am looking forward to diving into the further adventures of Mr. Howard Marsh.

Next on the shelf, I’m making my way through They Once Had Names (The Giftborn Chronicles, Book 2), by Drew Bailey. In the opening of the second book of The Giftborn Chronicles, a character uses the phrase “silver spoon cunt” as an expression of affection and then plunders the corpse of the first book’s antagonist for blood to save said Silver Spoon’s life. And that is why I haven’t been able to stop reading Drew Bailey’s second novel-length foray into grimdark. I picked up his first book, The Royal Nothings, based on the description “The Walking Dead meets Game of Thrones,” and to be honest, I am not the biggest fan of either of those, although I really enjoy zombie books and grimdark action adventure and actually enjoyed this series more than either of them. However, if you do happen to be a fan, and you wish there were more books like them, then you need to grab these right now. (Bonus — they are available on Kindle Unlimited!)

So, what’s to like, other than Drew Bailey’s really colorful way with words? I’ll start with the zombies. They are not your typical living dead, but they are both true to the traditions of the creature as well as a new way of portraying them. I’m not someone who normally gets scared at zombie creature features, but these scenes had me speed reading through them, unable to put them down. Next up — the characters. Not a single one without flaws, but also, most with some redeeming quality that gets their hooks into the reader and gets you caring about what actually happens to them. If you happen to enjoy complex, forthright, flawed women (which, surprise, I do), then you will find several in these pages. Wish you could read some grimdark that actually portrays queer characters outside of the “kill your gays” trope? Yep. Here you go. The plot was complicated but fast, and moves the reader along quickly, but still knows when to let them catch their breath. I don’t want to give away any spoilers, but I will say that if you are looking for a new series that scratches the grimdark itch, then you’ll do yourself a favor by giving Bailey’s series a chance!

Anyway, that’s what’s on the reading deck for this week. I’ve also got some nonfiction going, mostly research into herbalism and green magick for a story I’m writing, but I’ll post about those next week. What are y’all reading?

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One Response to On the Shelf: Down a (Grim)Dark Alley

  1. I’m glad Baby Bug has bounced back. To answer your question, I’m reading Immortelle by Catherine McCarthy. It’s a Welsh witchy (or ghostly? dunno yet) story. Very smooth prose, like butter. I love McCarthy’s style of writing!

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