Michael Underwood scores full points for a perfect hit with Hexomancy, drawing (at least the first cycle) of the Ree Reyes series (which include Geekomancy and Celebromancy along with the novella, Attack the Geek) to a full-on fun while satisfying ending. You know those episode-ending scenes around the table of Serenity from Firefly? There is a sense of camaraderie, coming home with people and life seeming to fit (even with chaos around the corner). That’s what Hexomancy is for me. Mr. Underwood seems more comfortable and confident within his writing skin. While the series started out as a fun, light, albeit cool, geeked-out, pop-culture fueled adventure novel, it continued to grow to a full-fledged adventure series driven as much by the characters who people the stories as the geek references. So while the impetus of the series was superpowers based on geekiness (and what geek doesn’t dream of that world), it grew into a series where world-building became more of the stage on which the characters act and their relationships wax and wane. That’s not to say his characters, their relationships or the storyline were subservient to world building before, it’s just that the underground world needed focus. His pacing, dialog, and descriptions have slipped over the top to spot on with an inherent sense of authenticity. In this artificial world, there is no artifice. Also, there’s the not-wanting-to-put-it-down because it’s so much fun. If I didn’t have to pretend to some responsibility and family life, I would have read it in one sitting; as it was, I read it in two days.
Note: First, full disclosure, I received an advanced review copy of this novel from Netgalley for an honest review; it’s scheduled for release September 14, 2015. Second, there are spoilers below for any who haven’t read Geekomancy and Celebromancy, so read them.
Hexomancy takes well-established characters, with a few new ones, and fleshes out the like/abhor relationship between Ree and Eastwood, the life of a geek-hero whilst trying to keep a day job and personal life, and the ebb-and-flow of love relationships. Celebromancy introduced us to a fairly different setting to keep things fresh; while the world was the same, the setting within the context of a movie lot was sufficiently new that it gave the novel a different feel. We return to home turf in this novel in which some witch sisters vow to take out Eastwood. Ree and Drake slog their way through sewers and dangerous magic to protect him.
Often in a sequel, you’ll hear things like, “now that the characters and world are established, we can really get into the story.” Too often that’s a prelude to a weak story; not so much here. This third book rests nicely on the shoulders of the previous two and the novella. Geekomancy 101 is over and now all of that world building is put to fabulous use within the storylines, relating the characters, laying out the main narrative thread and presenting the action. There is a natural ebb-and-flow in the battle scenes, the interactions at Grognard’s Grog and Games and with the Rhyming Ladies. You may have the impression that as I’m saying all this about great characters and interesting relationships that the fun must be done. Au contraire, mon ami. Once again, you can seriously get your geek on. All of the DnD, Star Wars, and Buffy references come back with a vengeance, along with some sweet Chinese modeling those Browncoats of Firefly. The games are going, nerds are numerous and fun is flying. It’s all here
Speaking of fun, I have some soundtrack recommendations for Hexomancy – Lachesis’s theme could be Nina Simone’s I Put a Spell on You sung by Morgan James. Carolos Santana can make some serious contributions with some Black Magic Woman for Lucretia and perhaps his Evil Ways for Connie while his Into the Night might be Eastwood’s theme song. Of course, there’s lots of built in soundtrack music, everything from Star Wars to Tron, Dark Knight to The Avengers. It’s all there.
What I love about Hexomancy:
- The relationships among the characters
- The characters themselves. These seem like people you would actually meet placed in a bizarro alternate world.
- The way the storyline seemed like adventure set pieces but were actually part of a coherent storyline that delivered a great narrative arc as well as being a worthy conclusion to the series.
- All of the geeky references.
- The writing including pacing, dialog, and action
- Yes, even the love story.
Things in Hexomancy of which I was less fond – *Note: *light spoilers*:
- The chasing of Lachesis seemed a little drawn out and yet ended in a battle not fully satisfying.
- Hexomancy seems mostly about throwing you off-kilter (which is more powerful than it might first appear) so it seems a stretch that it could be powerful enough to knock out city power or all that Atropos does.
Come for the geeky world and fun storyline, stay for the fabulous characters, relationships, and action. I thoroughly enjoyed the whole series; I simply loved Hexomancy. I commend it for your reading pleasure. Seriously, pre-order today.