Deeply atmospheric and decidedly dark, Schaefer’s latest offering—which chronicles an investigative reporter’s discovery that magic, and magical creatures, exists in the world—is an appealing blend of mythic fantasy, gothic horror, and supernatural mystery.
Chicago reporter Lionel Page has made a career out of being a “professional debunker.” But when he's coerced into verifying the authenticity of a lost Edgar Allan Poe short story being auctioned in New York City, he quickly gets entangled in a mystery that seems to leave those involved with the manuscript dead. Page’s search for Poe’s story—about a mesmerist who hypnotizes a dying person at the moment of his death—leads him inexplicably to "the man with the blue eyes” who murdered his mother when he was a child. After meeting Maddie, a woman who may or may not be a 3,000-year old sorceress, and getting his third eye “chiseled open” by her, he sees the world as it truly is: a terrifying, magic-powered urban wilderness inhabited by immortals and nightmarish monstrosities of all ilk. Although the dark fantasy elements are an obvious strength—ghosts and ghouls abound—it’s the main characters that drive this narrative. Page and Maddie are both deeply developed with fascinating backstories, and their relationship is dynamic. Additionally, the rich visuals and meticulous detail throughout give this novel an effortlessly immersive quality. Schaefer’s description of New York City, for example, is so strong that the setting almost becomes another supernatural character: “The city was a great and lumbering beast, armored in granite and chrome....” The one criticism is the story’s slow start. While the second half is breakneck-paced, action-packed, and deeply satisfying, the beginning takes quite a while to get up to speed as the author sets the stage for the series of bombshell revelations at novel’s end.
The illegitimate love child of Neil Gaiman and Aleister Crowley.