Justin R. Macumber follows up his novel "Stillwater" with the sequel "Fragile" and it definitely delivers on the chills, visceral (literally) horror and rising tension he established in the first book.
Maya is a survivor of the terrible events which took place in the prior book and is struggling to get back on her feet. Scarred emotionally and physically from the ordeal she is dealing with a number of complexities in her life. Assisted by a handful of other survivors, she quickly becomes embroiled in a case of black magic, demonic possession and Gypsies.
There is a lot to like in this novel.
- Characters are vivid and profoundly flawed, yet striving to do their best in tough situations.
- Incredibly diverse cast of characters, each portrayed as a unique individual - even side characters.
- Vivid, sweeping descriptions and an almost panoramic perspective of writing.
- Surprisingly sympathetic antagonist despite repugnant practices
- Excellent techniques of building tension, raising stakes and making the hero pay for every decision
- The pace was surprisingly brisk with no "saggy" parts in Act II or during exposition. Hard to do.
- Intriguing character arcs are traced and followed to their conclusions.
- Lots of interesting beats and POPS throughout
While there were some typos in the work and more than a few continuity gaps (in one scene, the POV character has dialogue with another; next page is the same dialogue heard by a different POV with different words / conversation) one aspect of the work has left me with a smirk on my face.
I have never read a novel in which the specifics of messy GI issues are explored. ; )
Protags will throw up repeatedly, other characters describe in too much detail their own intestinal distress and resolution and so on. I was not grossed out by the vivid descriptions - but I did...take note of it. Interesting observation, that's all.
As a final comment, it is also interesting to note that many urban fantasy novels will take a turn and dip into conventions of horror. "Fragile" does the opposite, in my opinion. It is a horror novel, complete with high, mortal stakes and a rising sense of dread - yet pivots into a few conventions of urban fantasy. I found that to be something I've not really read before.
"Fragile" is a quick, intriguing and interesting read.
I hope to see Maya in another novel soon.
- Paperback: 232 pages
- Publisher: Gryphonwood Press; 1 edition (20 July 2016)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1940095530
- ISBN-13: 978-1940095530
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 20.3 cm
- Boxed-product Weight: 318 g
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