Rating: 3.3 out of 5
Every once in a while, I run across a book that I can't help but think, "If there had been just this much more work put into it (or perhaps a little more), it could have been special."
Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Gift of Fury by Richard Jackson.
The setup of the book is as follows - Count Albritton (that's his name, not his title...weird, I know, but it works) is a paranormal investigator working out of New York City. He and his friends (a pair of wizards, a vampire of some sort, and an immortal warrior) run up against a man named Jack Meredith, a wealthy entrepreneur who desires more than simply predicting how to work the stock market in his favor.
It seems that Mr. Meredith has gone to great lengths to awaken the Seven, a powerful group of beings harkening from the "Old Days" of magic. And it turns out that our beloved Count, who holds a special relationship with a magical ring called the Bloodstone, is the only one who can stop him.
I so, so wanted to love this book. The author has a fantastic voice, telling the tale from Count's viewpoint. He goes in-depth about the workings of the magical world that exists just beneath our own "real" world, explaining things such as the Witching Hour, different types of vampires, and the differentiations of various forms of magical practices. It was honestly quite entertaining to read. Jackson paints a vision of New York that is mysterious as well as mundane, and he takes some well-known (and not so well-known) locations and makes them shine anew. Great job there.
The characters who surround the fabulously sarcastic Count, also have their own distinct voices. Highest on this list is Hagan, the eternal warrior. He's gruff and strangely carefree, the type of braggart that can't wait to let everyone around him know of his exploits, whether he should or not. Also intriguing was Scott Dorward, one of the two sorcerers Count associates with. He is wonderfully quirky and straightforward. The few scenes he appears in are some of the best in the whole book.
As for the plot...it's simple but it works. When it all gets boiled down, this is an adventure story. Its aim is to present a new world and entertain you. The only real theme I could find would be find yourself, young man, as Count doesn't understand the power he possesses and must constantly work to harness. As I said, it's simple but enjoyable.
And then we have the problems, which are many. I usually don't make a huge deal of the editing in books - a few typos don't bother me - but this one is rife with so many errors it became distracting. Also, it is told in first-person present tense - which is a difficult style to pull off effectively - and even the flashbacks are presented in this way. It completely interrupts the flow of the story. Every time this happened, I had to scroll back to see if what I was reading happened now or then. Change the tense, man!
On the subject of those flashbacks, there were at least two too many. We could've done without discovering how Count found the Bloodstone or first met Hagan. These facts could have easily been disclosed organically through conversation or informative snippets, without exposition.
These aspects of the novel came close to ruining it for me. Close, but not quite. I still had a good time with it, and I thought the world author Jackson created seemed fresh and new. It's too bad there are so many irritants, because were those facets not there, this could've been something special.
As presently constructed, it's a fun rough draft, not a final product.
Which is a shame.
Plot - 7
Characters - 9
Voice - 8
Execution - 3
Personal Enjoyment - 6
Overall - 33/50 (3.3/5)