Deadlight Jack by Mark Onspaugh

Deadlight Jack by Mark OnspaughDeadlight Jack by Mark Onspaugh
Published by Hydra on January 26th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Horror
Pages: 288
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley

Worse things than gators lurk in the Louisiana swamp. . . . The author of The Faceless One fuses the twisted imagination of Fritz Leiber with the razor-sharp plotting of Joe Hill in this rollicking horror thriller.
Appearances can be deceiving. Take Jimmy Kalmaku. Anyone passing him on the streets of Lake Nisqually, Washington, would merely see an elderly man. But Jimmy is actually a powerful Tlingit shaman, with a link to the god Raven and a résumé that includes saving the world.
Or take his friend and roommate, George Watters. Another ordinary retiree, right? Wrong. Like Jimmy, George is more than he seems to be. He too has a link to the supernatural. He too has saved the world.
Then there's Professor Foxfire—also known as Deadlight Jack. Dressed in the garb of a stage magician, he seems a figure of magic and fun. But he isn't fun at all. He isn't even human. And his magic is of the darkest and bloodiest kind.
When George's grandson vanishes on a family vacation to the Louisiana bayou, George and Jimmy fly across the country to aid in the search. Once they arrive, family feuds and buried secrets bring George face-to-face with the ghosts of a forgotten past; Jimmy finds his powers wilting under the humid Southern sun; and deep in the swamp, Deadlight Jack prepares his long-awaited revenge.

Hans Christian Andersen meets the denizens of Swamp People in this dark, and disturbing pseudo-fairy tale set in the Louisiana bayou.

Deadlight Jack brings together a cast of interesting characters, drawn into a world beyond the one we ordinary folk see around us. The two main roguish protagonists access abilities, and insight which some might see as being magical. The men are set on a quest to rescue a child who has been taken by a devious, will-o-the-wisp cum pied piper who lures them into a deadly game deep within a swamp filled with horrors both ordinary and magical.

Among some of the strongest and most interesting characters in this book – apart from the two main retirement aged adults – are the children who are caught up in this horror. They are well-realised, and showed a great deal of power in their own right, while standing up to their captors. Aside from the main characters however, most of the other adults prove sort of useless – you would think if they were involved in a family where extraordinary things are sort of the norm, they might be more akin to it.

Re-told fairytales really aren’t my thing, but this is a unique and interesting twist on old, but very familiar tales. I really enjoyed this book, and found that I was really engaged and sucked into this world that Onspaugh has created. While it feels like a bit of a one-shot, I think this is a well-crafted, rich environment that is itching to be explored again. The author does not lift all of their skirts – so to speak – leaving enough tantalising glimpses at a world filled with stories beyond those told in Deadlight Jack.

I think this book would appeal to readers with an interest in fairytale like stories, and older YA readers. There is nothing in here in here which is overly adult, but there is a certain level of horror that creeps into the story.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating Report
Overall: five-stars

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