Short Takes: Three Supernatural Thrill Rides

Zombies. Zombies on the Mexican border. It might sound like a bridge too far but in Mansbach’s hands, Dead Run, the first book in this sly, violent series felt like watching a Tarantino or Robert Rodriquez movie. Reviewers called it “surreal…ambitiously plotted…full throttle…first-rate entertainment based on a fascinating cultural mashup.”

The Devil’s Bag Man continues the saga of protagonist Jess Galvan, now inhabited by the soul of a savage, five-hundred-year-old Aztec priest. It’s action packed terror for the dog days of summer. J Entertainment Weekly featured it in its Summer Books Preview and advance reviews are great.

[R]arely has a writer demonstrated he’s having as much fun as Mansbach clearly is with this demented series combining contemporary crime action, Mexican mythology, irreverent comedy, and straight-up horror….Jess is living out in the desert with a head full of angry Aztec god. On the plus side, he’s been imbued with inhuman strength and endurance, but on the minus side, he’s having a hell of a time keeping Cucuy at bay. ‘Two souls, one body. The math was a bitch,’ …. Like great pulp fiction or midnight movies, the book’s profane, hyperactive, and gloriously violent style will repel more sensitive readers and make those who revel in Tarantino scripts, Breaking Bad, or zombie flicks giddy with anticipation.”
— Kirkus Reviews

“Mansbach skillfully keeps the characterization and language of ancient priests and gods distinct from the modern idiom, so when Mexican prisons, cross-border cartels, modern police investigations, and fatherly concern finally come together with magically beating hearts and armies of undead virgins, the effect of worlds colliding is devastatingly effective….”
Publishers Weekly

“[A]n adrenaline-pumping bang teeming with vivid, violent imagery. Imagine an Indiana Jones–style story, starring the Hulk and directed by Robert Rodriquez; surely satisfying for readers craving a bloody supernatural jolt.”
Booklist

The Devil’s Bag Man (9780062199683) by Adam Mansbach. $24.99 hardcover. 7/21/15 on sale.

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Farnsworth is the author of the cult-favorite President’s Vampire series and this new book finds us back in the land of high-concept historical horror with a tale of Spanish conquistadors who drink from the Fountain of Youth and become immortal. Bad immortals. When an ancient adversary sworn to revenge destroys the Fountain, the conquistadors turn to modern science to replicate the waters of eternal life. Carnage, plot twists galore and lot of witty dialogue ensue. Of his last book, the Washington Post said, “Farnsworth summons his talents as a scriptwriter and journalist to spin a complex and unnervingly realistic tale . . . The supernatural elements here are dazzlingly clever.” That’s certainly true for this new book, too.

In 1537, Simón de Oliveras y Seixas and five of his closest soldiers claim the fountain of youth in the Florida swamps after slaughtering the members of the Water Clan of the Uzita, who guard ‘The Water.’ Nearly 500 years later, Simon Oliver III, as Simón now calls himself, heads Conquest Biotech, a firm best known for its anti-aging pharmaceuticals, and his fellow Spanish conquistadors run the board. With the fountain’s water supply dwindling, Simon hires scientific genius David Robinton to find its secret. Meanwhile, Simon and his cohorts remain locked in a centuries-old war with Shako, the daughter of the Uzita chief and the massacre’s only survivor. Each man is obsessed with living forever, yet exhausted from the lies and hiding they’ve done for centuries and bored by life’s pleasures.”
Publishers Weekly (starred review)

“A fantastical witch’s brew of Spanish conquistadors, biotechnology, and hubris . . . with cinematic pacing and colorful action scenes, Farnsworth blends a unique premise into fun summer reading . . . entertainingly explores the border where science fantasy meets reality.”
— Kirkus Reviews

The Eternal World (9780062282927) by Christopher Farnsworth. $25.99 hardcover. 8/4/15 on sale.

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Just a heads up for Kadrey’s legion of fans that the seventh installment is here. If you are not familiar with this dark, comic urban fantasy series, William Gibson pretty much nails it:

The best B movie I’ve read in at least twenty years. An addictively satisfying, deeply amusing, dirty-ass masterpiece, Sandman Slim swerves hell-bent through our culture’s impacted gridlock of genres, sideswiping so many, so brilliantly, so constantly, that it’s like watching Sergio Leone and Clive Barker co-direct from a script by Jim Thompson and S. Clay Wilson: an LA noir spaghetti western grudge-war apocalypse, fought with magic, shotguns, occult artifacts, and (at one point) the broken wooden handle of a toilet plunger. Sweet.” [I never get tired of that blurb!]

Seven books in you might think the premise is getting a little long in the tooth–but not according to Cory Doctorow: “Kadrey’s done amazing work keeping one of literature’s great anti-heroes in adventures this long, and Killing Pretty proves that he isn’t slowing down.”

After you’ve saved the universe and defeated the old gods, what do you do for an encore? In the case of James Stark, aka Sandman Slim, Death finds you – but only because you’re the only one who can help him out. Someone wants to take over for Death, and has bound him to a body that they then tried to kill. Meanwhile, Stark is starting to realize that his standard approach to problems – that is, killing things and making people angry – is putting everyone he cares about in danger. Kadrey is a master of nonstop pacing, surreal violence and off-the-wall humor, and Sandman Slim’s latest adventure is his best yet. Highly recommended!”
— Carol Schneck Varner, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

“Urban fantasy fans who place a premium on humor are most likely to enjoy Kadrey’s seventh Sandman Slim novel. Slim, aka James Stark, is one of the nephilim—half human, half angel—who’s working as a PI in Los Angeles….Kadrey gives him another daunting challenge: someone dragged Death into a human body and cut out his heart, killing him, and Stark’s boss, Julie Sola, wants him to find out whodunit. Julie hopes that finding Death’s killer will restore some normalcy, as after the assault ‘no one is dying anywhere’….plenty of over-the-top entertainment.”
Publishers Weekly

Killing Pretty: A Sandman Slim Novel (9780062373106) by Richard Kadrey. $25.99 hardcover. 7/28/15 on sale.

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