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Friday, October 2, 2015

Esoterrorism by C. T. Phipps (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)


Official Author Website
Order Esoterrorism HERE

AUTHOR INFORMATION: C.T. Phipps is a lifelong student of horror, science fiction, and fantasy. An avid tabletop gamer, he discovered this passion led him to write and turned him into a lifelong geek. He is a regular blogger, reviewer for The Bookie Monster, and recently signed a deal with Ragnarok Publications to produce the urban fantasy series, The Red Room. C.T. Phipps is also the author of The Supervillainy Saga, the first book of which, The Rules of Supervillainy, was released this June.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: There are no good guys in the world of shadows...but maybe some bad men are better than others.

Derek Hawthorne was born to be an agent of the Red Room. Literally. Raised in a conspiracy which has protected the world from the supernatural for centuries, he's never been anything other than a servant of their agenda. Times are changing, though, and it may not be long before their existence is exposed.

When a routine mission uncovers the latest plan of the magical terrorist, the Wazir, Derek finds himself saddled with a new partner. Who is the mysterious but deadly Shannon O'Reilly? What is her agenda? Couple this with the discovery the Red Room has a mole seeking to frame Derek for treason and you have a plot which might bring down a millennium-old organization. Can he stop the Wazir's mission to expose the supernatural? And should he?

FORMAT/INFO: Esoterrorism is 456 pages long divided into forty-two chapters and a prologue. The narration is in the first-person via Derek Hawthorne exclusively. This book is the first volume in the The Secret Files Of The Red Room. Cover art is provided by Eloise J. Knapp.

July 4th, 2015 marked the e-book and paperback publication of Esoterrorism by Ragnarok Publications.

CLASSIFICATION: Esoterrorism  is James Bond meets Hellboy meets The Dresden Files.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Esoterrorism by Charles T. Phipps caught my eye for two solid reasons, one it was a urban fantasy thriller that promised mayhem and magic in a startling mix and secondly it was published by the Ragnarok folks whom I know to have a special eye for dark stories in any genre.

The story is seen entirely through our protagonist Derek Hawthrone, an agent for the organization known as The Red Room. It’s an organization that is massive and is very family-oriented (literally). However their family dealings are more akin to those of the Borgias and their sole intent is to keep the non-magical populace of Earth unaware of the supernatural creatures, races and their shenanigans. Derek is an agent who has been initiated into the organization since a long time and has had quite many capers. Most of them have led to the dissolution of his marriage, deaths of his partners and friends and lastly left him with a cynical but funny worldview. His newest partner Shannon O’Reilly turns out to be more than he thought she would be and she’s definitely off the Human charts both in physical appearance and magical prowess.

Their mission is to track down the Wazir, a terrorist magical caster whose notions about humanity and magic tend to run counter with those of The Red Room. He’s however slippery than a wet eel and doubly dangerous. Derek and Shannon have to figure whether they can trust the other person, who’s the mole in The Red Room organization (because in stories like these, there’s always a mole) and hopefully save the world. As far as spy thrillers go, this is the normal route. What adds extra spice to the story is the presence of magic and the entire paranormal creature spectrum and how the author focuses the story through Derek who can give Frank Trigg a run for his money with his corny jokes, ribald wit and thorny attitude.

Here’s why I enjoyed this story, Charles T. Phipps go all out with his story tropes and manages to subvert them just about to make this story fresh while also giving nods to the fantastic stories that have come before. He also sets the story within the prism of urban fantasy which adds nuance to the story as we come across a myriad cast of creatures and forms of magic. The author has to be lauded for his pan-continental use of magical creatures and oddities. He truly makes it feel like a chaotic world akin to our one with the additional feature of magic that shakes the equilibrium. Avoiding the use of vampires and by focusing on rarely mentioned creatures such as the Lillin, Rakshasas, etc made this story stand out for me.

The pace of the story is another positive factor, beginning from the first couple of chapters; the author takes the readers by their lapels and races them though a story that has a decent number of twists and has a whole lot of action. The story is meant for fun and it goes all out for making sure that readers experience it to the fullest. For those interested the author has spoken as to how he tried to deconstruct the world-weary hero and femme fatale tropes, and he’s done it in a way that doesn’t obstruct the story in its premise. The pace of the story never slackens and we are constantly on the move to find out what happens in the climax and who’s the person pulling the strings.

For things that didn’t quite work for me, some of the world history and background setting are scarcely mentioned but never quite revealed. I don’t know if this was intentional on the author’s part (so as to save it for later volumes) or simply sacrifices made for not slackening the pace. I felt that the world and magic system could have been better fleshed out. There’s also in the middle when the story does get a tad slow wherein the main characters are trying to figure out another character’s possible betrayal. I thought that could have been due to the fast pace of the story before and after, which made that section seem slower.

CONCLUSION: Overall I very much enjoyed Esoterrorism as it was written with few things in mind, if you are looking for a fast-paced, action heavy thriller, then Esoterrorism will hit the bullseye. If you are looking for a change from the usual urban fantasy smorgasbord then Esoterrorism might do it for you. As for me, I was looking to read something new and exciting and Charles T. Phipps provided that in spades. I can’t wait to read the sequel volumes Eldritch Ops, and Operation: Otherworld. Give this book a try, I’m sure you will be hooked as well.

3 comments:

C.T. Phipps said...

Thanks for this awesome review, Mihir! I'm so glad you enjoyed it.

The Reader said...


Hi Charles,

I certainly did and I'm enjoying TROSV even more :)

Mihir

C.T. Phipps said...

Awesomesauce!

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