Thursday, 27 June 2013

Unclean Spirits - Chuck Wendig

When your wife and child are burning to death in a car wreck, is there anything you wouldn't do to save them? Cason Cole does what any other man would do, he makes a deal to save his family in exchange for his freedom.

Chuck Wendig - writer, blogger and swearsmith - is back with a new novel, Unclean Spirits. I have fond memories of his Double Dead novels featuring bad boy vampire Coburn, books which surprised me with their hidden tale of the man within the beast.

What makes Unclean Spirits stand out is the setting, a new concoction by Chuck Wendig called Gods & Monsters. It's not an unfamiliar story, but one which readers of Neil Gaiman's American Gods will be familiar with. The gods are real, and so are all the monsters from every myth you have ever heard, but it gets worse. The Usurper cast them out from their respective heavens and hells, and they walk the streets with us. They might have lost most of their powers, but that does not mean they have lost their appetite for playing with their favourite toys. Us.

Speaking of Coburn, it's not unfair to say Cason Cole has a lot in common with Coburn. They are both equally stubborn with a habit of pushing people away, and saying the wrong thing on every occasion. It's hard to see why Cason Cole would do or say what he does, and it feels like he is just obnoxious for the sake of being obnoxious. They also share the same fighting style, the one where you tire out your opponent by having him beat the shit out of you. Don't get me wrong, I approve of the reluctant, bastard of hero mould, but Chuck Wendig should have added some variety for a less bland protagonist.

Unclean Spirits is a book with a ruthless pace where we are hurled through the sequences of the novel. There is a lot of action in the book, and Cason Cole's past as a cage fighter comes in handy more than once. When he is not dodging fists the size of cars, he is learning about gods he never knew or cared about before. It's clear he still does not care, but I certainly enjoyed these tidbits of lore.

Unclean Spirits is a rumpus of a read in a fresh new setting brimming with potential. As a matter of fact, the next novel in Gods & Monsters, Drag Hunt, by Pat Kelleher is out later this year.

Unclean Spirits weighs in at 320 pages and is published by Abaddon Books.