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Review – Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore

broken souls by stephen blackmoorePublisher: DAW Books
Publish Date: Out Now
How I got this book: eARC from the publisher via NetGalley

When necromancer Eric Carter returned to Los Angeles after fifteen years on the run he knew things were bad, but he never imagined how bad they could get. Sister murdered, best friend dead, married to the patron saint of death, Santa Muerte.

And things are just getting worse.

His link to the Aztec death goddess is changing his powers, changing him, and he’s not sure how far it will go. He’s starting to question his own sanity, wonder if he’s losing his mind. No mean feat for a guy who talks to the dead on a regular basis.

While searching for a way to break Santa Muerte’s hold over him, Carter finds himself the target of a psychopath who can steal anyone’s form, powers and memories. Identity theft is one thing, but the guy does it by killing his victims and wearing their skins like a suit. He can be anyone. He can be anywhere.

Now Carter has to change the game, go from hunted to hunter. All he has for help is a Skid Row Bruja and a ghost who’s either his dead friend Alex or Carter’s own guilt-fueled psychotic break.

If things go right, he just might survive a week where everything is trying to kill him and nothing is as it seems.

Eric Carter, LA’s one and only practicing necromancer, finds himself in the middle of a marital spat between opposing death gods; and he’s not sure that either side wants anything that he can survive.

But then, we are talking about the King and Queen of the Dead. It used to be the Aztec dead, but that was long ago and far away and death is everywhere. The conquistadors may have warped and corrupted the Aztec beliefs, but death itself is universal, and someone is always praying for deliverance from pain and loss.

Santa Muerta has an agenda, and she needs Eric Carter to help her carry it out. Unfortunately for Eric, her god-husband Mictlantecuhtli has a different agenda for Eric. Eric is not particularly happy with either choice.

While he’s trying to figure out what to do with his “god problem” Eric is also dealing with a mess in the so-called real world. Someone has stolen an Aztec sacrificial knife that can kill a god (which is why Eric wants it) but also allows someone with very evil intent to murder and skin another human and wear their skin (and memories and talents) like a suit.

Eric can’t seem to get away from the problems left behind but that magic-practicing gangster he killed 15 years ago. The consequences of that act keep following him and biting him in the ass. Also breaking his ribs and his nose multiple times as well as getting him shot and stabbed.

He’s stayed in town to protect his ex-girlfriend from the continuing consequences of all his bad deals and less-than-intelligent actions. She’s the unwitting hostage for his continued good behavior, at least according to the very bad things that want him to behave.

Meanwhile, his new girlfriend has been slightly less than forthcoming about who and what she is–a bit of deception that might just get Eric killed. If the bad guys don’t skin him first.

There’s incredibly nasty magical gang warfare on the streets on Los Angeles, and Eric is in the middle of if–up to his neck. Not because he intends to be, but because his senses of guilt and responsibility keep him from seeing what is right before his eyes.

For a necromancer, Eric is awfully, marvelously, human and flawed. He keeps trying to fix things, and he often just makes them worse. Spectacularly.

As i said in my review of Dead Things over at Reading Reality today, Eric Carter reminds me more than a bit of Harry Dresden of the marvelous Dresden Files. (I love them, even though my fellow Book Pusher Cass really hates Harry).

Eric has both Harry’s delicious sense fo snark and his propensity for getting himself in more and further trouble as he tries to clean up his own and other people’s messes. Also Eric’s love life is just as hopeless as Harry’s.

But they have similar arcs. Eric starts out as a necromancer for hire, he’s a powerful operator, but he doesn’t know how powerful he really is or how many things out there want to use him or co-opt him before he discovers just how big a deal he’s capable of being.

Eric (and Harry) also both have a terrible “forest for the trees” problem. They are so caught up in the immediate problem that they don’t see how their choices are being herded into a path that other people (or things) want. They get used because they try to do good in the short term and screw things up for themselves and others in the long term.

The story in Broken Souls (also in Dead Things) moves along at an edge-of-your-seat breakneck pace, as Eric goes from bad to worse options and the world continues to collapse around him.

His choices at the end of Broken Souls make me look forward longingly to Eric’s next adventure. I’m not sure whether he’ll be falling upwards or failing downwards, but it’s going to be fantastic to find out.

I give Broken Souls an A-:

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By Marlene

Marlene is a librarian, ebook advocate, science fiction fan, and RPG fan who lives in Atlanta. She and her husband are owned by three cats, just ask them. She's a geek and a nerd and proud of it. She's also an avid reader of everything, including the back of the cereal box, and has been blogging since April 2011 at Reading Reality and is a reviewer at Library Journal as well as active on Goodreads.

3 replies on “Review – Broken Souls (Eric Carter #2) by Stephen Blackmoore”

In the book, she both is and isn’t. In the present day, she is called Santa Muerta and worshipped as such, BUT in the past as envisioned by the book, Santa Muerta is just the modern-day avatar. She WAS the Aztec Death Goddess back when there were Aztecs who had a Death Goddess.

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