Series Title: ERIC CARTER SERIES (aka CITY OF THE LOST SERIES)
2 Dead Things (2/2013)
Stephen Blackmoore's dark urban fantasy series follows necromancer Eric Carter through a world of vengeful gods and goddesses, mysterious murders, and restless ghosts.
The plot continues the story line from Broken Souls in which Eric is caught in the middle between the two primary Aztec death deities: Santa Muerte (aka Mictecacihuatl), the death goddess, and her ex-husband, Mictlantecuhtli.
>1. Eric’s old friend, Tabitha Cheung, has been Santa Muerte’s avatar for several years, although she failed to admit that to Eric in Broken Souls. Tabitha has basically been playing Eric, pretending to be his friend while working on the side of Santa Muerte. As Eric describes the situation, Tabitha “has a chunk of Santa Muerte in her soul, and I wasn’t entirely sure she had any of her own.” This means that the death goddess has access to Tabitha’s mind, body, and will. Now that Eric knows the truth, he is hunting Tabitha down, planning to force her to take him through a portal to Mictlan so that he can kill Mictlantecuhtli. He’s hoping that will stop the jade from spreading throughout his body. Then he plans to kill both Tabitha and her mistress. As Eric and Tabitha travel together to Mictlan, Eric begins to wonder if Tabitha might have more control over her soul than he originally believed, so his once ardent desire for her death gradually becomes more ambiguous.
>2. In exchange for a favor in Dead Things, Eric promised the god Quetzalcoatl that he would burn down Mictlan. Quetzalcoatl is tired of waiting for Eric to get the job done, so he steps into the story several times to express his displeasure. Finally, he sends a monstrous creature into Mictlan to knock some sense into Eric just as he’s trying to figure out just how to carry out his plan to kill the two deities.
>3. Meanwhile, after Eric’s friend, Alex, was possessed by a demon (in Dead Things), Alex’s voice somehow began to speak to Eric inside his head. Now, Alex keeps showing up as a full-body hallucination, making snarky comments and urging Eric to make some really bad decisions, all the while transmitting information about Eric’s thoughts and actions back to Mictlantecuhtli.
FULL DISCLOSURE: My review of Hungry Ghosts is based on an electronic advance reading copy (ARC) of the book that I received from the publisher through Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. I received no promotional or monetary rewards, and the opinions in this review are entirely my own.
NOVEL 3: Broken Souls
This incident sets up the plot, as Eric tries to figure out what the Russian is up to and who—or what—the “Alex voice” is. That second question becomes even more difficult to answer when Alex begins showing up in his solid physical form, claiming to have information that will help Eric. Eric's situation gets even more complicated when Sergei's sister, Katya, follows Eric into a train car and kills everyone inside in an attempt to get at Eric. The action moves back and forth across the city as Eric has several ambiguous meetings with Santa Muerte, enlists assistance from his old friend Tabitha Cheung, and seeks information from the Santa Ana wind spirits. He also teams up with Gabriela, the young bruja from City of the Lost, who commands a crew of human and vampire thugs and who has also been attacked by the Sergei and his sister.
After all is said and done, Eric kicks back in his hotel room to watch the news, only to discover that the day's most traumatic events—an earthquake, an explosion, and a wind-related brushfire—can all be traced back to him. He muses, "It's a weird feeling, being responsible for so much of the news."
The book ends with the Santa Muerte issue unresolved and Eric still alone, with only the obsidian knife to keep him company. Even Gabriela bails on him. When Eric tells her, "I'm doing just fine," this is her response: "Really? Bouncing from hotel to hotel, stealing cars, ex-girlfriend wants to kill you...Last I heard your best friend had his soul eaten and you had to shoot him in the head. Yeah, you're doing great on the friend front."
This is the weakest of the three books, mostly because of the lack of character development that was such a strong point in the earlier novels. The Russian story line turned into a series of all-too-similar mini-battles, except for the explosive climax, which felt rushed and overly fantastical. Vivian makes only a brief appearance with no real interaction with Eric, and Tabitha…well Tabitha turns out to be anything but what she appears to be. The next novel promises to be even more fantasy-oriented than this one, with Eric going after two gods as he fulfills his promise to the Santa Ana wind spirits and tries to break his bond with Santa Muerte once and for all. Click HERE to read the first chapter of Broken Souls.