I received this book for free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Badge, Book, and Candle by Max Gladstone
Series: Bookburners #1
Published by Serial Box Publishing on September 16 2015
Genres: Adult, Fantasy
Buy on Amazon
The nitty-gritty: A great start to an exciting new venture in storytelling, all wrapped up in a compact urban fantasy package.
She’d met people on this very train who told her with overwhelming conviction that they were the product of genetic experimentation by the United States government using alien DNA, and they’d built a prototype transport beam to take them home, which they’d show her if she visited the compound in Jersey they shared with their four lovers chosen to embody the classical Chinese elements. As if she’d trust someone who asked her to go to Jersey.
I love this quote—which granted, doesn’t tell you much about the story—but perfectly captures the wry sense of humor of Bookburners. This serialized story, told over the course of sixteen weeks in sixteen bite-sized “episodes,” follows a group of monster hunters sanctioned by the Vatican, who employ magic and other resources to track down dangerous occult objects around the world and contain them in the Vatican’s Black Archives, a holding cell of sorts. Bookburners is written by a team of four writers, Max Gladstone (who wrote this first episode), Brian Francis Slattery, Mur Lafferty and Margaret Dunlap, and each week a new episode in the story will be released. I won’t go into all the details here, but if you missed my Serial Box kick-off post, check it out, because it explains a lot about how Bookburners came to be, and how you can start reading it.
Because Badge, Book, and Candle is so short—it took me less than an hour to read—I can’t really go into the plot much, because I don’t want to spoil it for you. Bookburners is the story of a group of people who work for a secret arm of the Vatican, tracking down dangerous magical objects all over the world and bringing them to the Vatican’s Black Archives where they are locked away, safe from those who would misuse them. One such object, an old and rare book called the Liber Manus, unfortunately falls into the wrong hands, and its powers are activated when it’s opened. Although the members of this group are able to find the Liber Manus, it’s too late, and the evil has escaped. It’s now up to Father Menchú, Grace, and Liam—and their new recruit, a detective named Sal Brooks—to try to close the book and stop the evil from spreading.
I thought Badge, Book, and Candle did a great job of laying the groundwork for what’s surely going to be an exciting series. I particularly loved meeting the characters, although it’s hard to get a real sense of who they are in such a short piece of fiction. Sal Brooks is an upstanding cop who doesn’t believe in magic, and she’s put in a horrible position when her brother Perry is taken over by the Liber Manus. I also really enjoyed Father Menchú, who I’m sure has a very interesting back-story and seems to act as the leader of the group. I didn’t really get a feel for Liam and Grace, but I’m looking forward to getting to know them better.
Max Gladstone’s writing is stellar, as usual, but I felt this short format didn’t really show off his brilliance in developing an intricate story, which takes much more time and pages to pull off. I’m looking at this experience the way I would watch the first episode of a new TV show. It might not show its full glory in the first show, but I can tell that eventually this series has fantastic potential. (And by the way, I’ve already read Episode #2, which I’ll be reviewing next week, and I enjoyed it even more than this one.)
If you’ve ever seen the TV show Warehouse 13, then this story is definitely for you. There’s a humorous and light-hearted feeling to the first couple of episodes that reminded me of that show, although based on my interview with author Brian Francis Slattery, things are going to get dark. I’m very anxious to see where the story goes, and the way Bookburners is formatted, readers won’t have long to wait, since a new episode will be released each week. In fact, you can read Badge, Book, and Candle for free right now on the Bookburners website! So if you’re curious, it’s a great way to get a taste of this new format, which promises to be a lot of fun.
Big thanks to the publisher for supplying a review copy.