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Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Hounacier by Seth Skorkowsky (Reviewed by Lukasz Przywoski)

Official Author Website
Order Hounacier over HERE
Read Fantasy Book Critic's review of Dämoren
Read Fantasy Book Critic interview with Seth Skorkowsky
Read Building The Perfect Revolver by Seth Skorkowsky (guest post)

AUTHOR INFORMATION: Raised in the swamps and pine forests of East Texas, Seth Skorkowsky gravitated to the darker sides of fantasy, preferring horror and pulp heroes over knights in shining armor. When not writing, Seth enjoys cheesy movies, tabletop role-playing games, and traveling the world with his wife.

OFFICIAL BOOK BLURB: Eleven years ago, atheist Malcolm Romero met a god. Now he's a demon-hunting voodoo priest armed with a holy machete named Hounacier.

After the murder of his mentor, he returns to New Orleans to catch the killer. But more is at stake when Malcolm finds himself betrayed, and his holy blade stolen. Now Malcolm's only hope to save his soul and to recover Hounacier, is the Valducan knight sent to kill him, Matt Hollis, the wielder of the holy revolver Dämoren.

FORMAT/INFO: Hounacier is 279 pages long divided over twenty one numbered chapters. The narration is in the third person limited. This is the second volume of the Valducan series. It can be read as a standalone.

The book is available in e-book and paperback formats. It was republished by Crossroad Press in 2018. Cover art and design are by Shawn King.

CLASSIFICATION: Hounacier is a character-driven dark urban- fantasy book with immersive world-building and in-depth study of demons lore and Voodoo.

OVERVIEW/ANALYSIS: Matt Hollis is a great and relatable character. Malcolm Romero isn’t. At least that’s what I thought after finishing Dämoren. You can’t blame me. Malcolm behaved like a huge asshole all the way through.

And yet here we are following Mal’s adventures in New Orleans. When he learns that someone murdered his mentor, Malcolm returns to New Orleans to catch the killer. Instead, he loses his holy machete (Hounacier) and finds himself on the run. Not only from others. He'll face an even more dangerous foe. I can’t say anything more so as to not spoil the twist.

This book is all about Malcolm and his relationships (with people, holy blade, ghosts, himself). We learn more about him. He was brought to faith by terror – as a young, defiant journalist he was looking for a strong article topic. He investigated the world of voodoo. After witnessing an exorcism, his world shattered to pieces, he felt a calling that would lead him to become a Valducan demon hunter.

I’m impressed with world-building and amount of research put into crafting the story. The author does a great job of describing the city giving us a deeper look at voodoo and the loa. Voodoo is a central theme in Hounacier. It feels vibrant, authentic and darkly fascinating.

Additionally, through scenes and notes that broaden knowledge stored in Valducan archives, we get new insights into demon culture. Demons pictured in Valducan series aren’t just flat incarnations of evil. They’re much more and they’re fascinating. It makes Valducan such a different read than most of what urban fantasy has to offer.

Above all, though, Hounacier isn’t a Dämoren copy. It’s different in almost every way. It’s more low-key and more intimate. We witness demon-slaying and good action scenes but the book has a feel of a good psychological thriller, especially after sudden twist that’ll have Malcolm facing the biggest challenge of his life. It’s a dark and violent book. If you have a visual style of imagination, then you risk getting a visceral reaction to the events more than once. Some scenes were terrifyingly gruesome but didn't feel unnecessarily gory.

The pacing of the book however is uneven. The first half of Hounacier sets the scene. After the main plot twist, the novel becomes much faster. Some readers may find the beginning slow but I enjoyed it, especially the nicely crafted New Orleans' descriptions. It’s the city I dream to visit one day.

CONCLUSION: Overall, I’m impressed with Hounacier. It took me to some dark places but remained engrossing all the way. If you are looking for a dark Urban Fantasy story mixed in with a solid dose of horror, the Valducan series is definitely worth your time. 



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