I've been meaning to read Richard A. Knaak for ages, especially his Dragonrealm books. He writes a whole slew of the WarCraft books as well and I've only heard good things. He did not disappoint.
From what I know, Black City Saint is a bit outside Knaak's normal wheelhouse, opting for Urban Fantasy instead of Epic Fantasy and he proves he can handle this genre quite deftly.
We start out with your typical exorcism where Nick Medea's got to get rid of some paranormal problems from a lady's house. I was instantly drawn in when he mentions that only people with an actual magical problem, someone who's been touched by magic, could even contact Nick.
He does the deed and we quickly find out he's actually a 1600 year old gatekeeper between the realms of the real world and faerie. He received this position by slaying the dragon, but the problem came when the dragon fused with him in the process leaving Nick with a constant companion ... who is always trying to control him and pretty much destroy everything.
I thought the dragon was a really great touch, though at times it almost focuses too much on how the dragon needs to be kept in check. Nick is constantly fighting him, especially in the most difficult moments, and often gives in only to have to real him back.
As if Nick doesn't have enough problems, but the gate is open and the darkest part of Faerie, the Wyld, is making its way into the real world.
Oh, and did I mention this was all set in the prohibition era where rival gangs lead by the likes of Al Capone are thriving?
But Nick is not alone, he has companions, outcasts from Faerie who owe Nick their lives to assist. A lycanthrope named Fetch, a fawning almost-human exile named Kravayik, and a few more and some ghosts too.
The action really gets going when a new job comes in and the client happens to be the reincarnation of his love, Cleolinda, who happens to die horribly each and every time she is reincarnated. Nick would prefer that not happen this time.
With this eclectic cast of characters and almost-constant action, Black City Saint was an absolute blast to read from the very first page. I knew it was going to be good when I was glued to that first scene where Nick was casting out the Wyld in his first client's house and it only got better from there.
Black City Saint is the Dresden Files meets The Great Gatsby. The setting is perfect for a supernatural battle amidst bootlegging underground bars and rival gang shoot-outs. What could possibly be better than that?!
4 out of 5 Stars (highly recommended)
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