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ROMEO SPIKES by Joanne Reay

ROMEO SPIKES

By Joanne Reay

Pub Date: Aug. 14th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-7444-6
Publisher: Gallery Books/Simon & Schuster

Reay’s debut is a steampunk tale of humans, their hunters and the hunters who hunt their hunters. Yes, it’s that confusing.

Detective Alexis Bianco isn’t happy to be called into the SCURO Bureau. Even though she can’t remember exactly what relation to the supernatural world the acronym SCURO indicates, she knows it can only mean trouble for her. Maybe it’s related to the recent case of Maddy Pool, who may or may not have been murdered, leaving only a carbon ring behind. Welcome to Reay’s gothic world, where humanity is plagued by miasmal evil and mysterious creatures, perhaps the most dangerous of these last is the Tormenta. A Tormenta, as Reay reveals nearly halfway through her tale, lives by convincing some human to commit suicide, then sucking the remaining life span through the human’s open mouth in a death kiss. Now it’s time for the coming of the Mosca, an ancient being that will band Tormentas together to eradicate humanity. Lola has worked alone as a hunter of Tormentas since her rebirth into the world, but now she must lead Bianco’s ad hoc team in their search for the Mosca. This search leads from an ugly patch of land known as “Swamp Gravy” to Morphic Fields Penitentiary, where Lola hopes prisoner-cum-prophet Agnus Day will illuminate lives current and past and give the team the clues to save mankind.

The prodigious array of characters, every one with his or her own past lives, multiple names and myriad relationships, can be intriguing, but ultimately the throngs bury the essential story in obscurantist detail.