To save his family, a former New York state cop follows serial killers into a strange realm of gods and dragons in Vick’s (Devils, 2017, etc.) fantasy tale.
It’s been seven years since Hank Jensen was a state trooper. He’s been on disability for rheumatoid arthritis, which causes him near-constant pain; it seems to have started after a woman named Liz Tutor, a prime suspect in a series of killings, put a curse on him. Hank never managed to bring her to justice, nor was he able to arrest Chris Hatton, who all but admitted that he and Liz were the cannibalistic murderers known as the Bristol Butchers. When Hank’s wife, Jane, and 12-year-old son, Sig, don’t return from trick-or-treating on Halloween, he gets a phone call from Bobbie Timmens, his former neighbor, telling him to go to the cave that once housed the Butchers’ victims. There, he finds a colorful, oval mirror—a portal that takes Hank to a land in the midst of a blizzard. A man named Meuhlnir provides him with both refuge and information, and it turns out that there may be something to Liz’s and Chris’ strange claims of being gods. Hank teams up with powerful people called the Isir and, on the path to find his family, faces everything from elves to reanimated corpses. Vick’s Norse mythology–laden narrative is rife with figures that readers will recognize. Still, Hank’s condition makes him the most distinctive character; when he first heads out to rescue his family, he stocks up not only on ammunition, but also on pain meds. There’s a good deal of back story, including Hank’s initial investigation of Liz and Chris and how the Isir achieved power. The inevitable confrontations are enhanced by Vick’s energetic prose: “With a cacophony of savage, ear-splitting screams, the fire demons fell on the party of Isir.” The expansiveness of the story’s world(s), unfortunately, offsets the urgency of finding Jane and Sig. Nevertheless, the story is thoroughly resolved, and there’s a hint of how the series might continue.
An audacious novel with a hero that braves both mythical creatures and a disability.