A fantasy/adventure about a small village and an onslaught of demonic forces from debut authors Braddock and Pacy.
Van Peers is “a warrior in a land of darkness and woe.” An Elkmaster with a trusty mount—a bull elk named Legend, Van Peers has a blade that can “tame the wickedest soul.” Living in the village of Eben Hollow, he does what he can to repel whatever evil comes his way. It’s a tough gig: the nearby woods are ruled by Ganoate, “the devil of the forest” who “walk[s] on two cloven hooves, his body completely covered in reddish-brown hair.” Ganoate sends his minion Knoll to steal children from Eben Hollow. When a young carpenter falls under the spell of powerful sorceress Eva Strella, the hollow’s troubles worsen. What sort of torment does Eva Strella have in store? Will the citizens’ faith in God and their various weapons be enough to repel a hellish attack? Combining swords, revolvers, Christianity, and magic, Braddock and Pacy create a churning, imaginative setting. Trips to the local tavern result in glasses of ale “with a touch of a grizzly’s saliva,” and a Sunday at church provides a stern warning that “Satan may captivate whomever he wishes, should they open themselves to him.” The authors also don’t stint on graphic torture scenes: “He laughed devilishly, as he inserted the flaming rod into the man’s anus and slowly pulled out his charred innards a piece at a time.” And the dialogue is similarly colorful: “I curse you with the blood of Satan’s heart!” (as one character remarks shortly before his violent end). What are readers to make of a place where heroes thank Jesus and an archvillain smokes cigars? While some moments and character traits are excessive, those interested in an epic struggle of good against evil will find one here. The adventure hums along with plenty of action and sinister plotting. This is particularly true as trouble mounts in later pages, causing the conflict to take on merciless proportions.
Fans of heroes who drink, waste bad guys, and still find time for church will enjoy this grisly high-stakes war.