Saturday, February 21, 2015

Book Review: Bloodrush by Ben Galley


Tonmerion Hark’s father was shot and killed. He now stands to inherit the entire Hark estate, including the title Lord. There are two problems:

Merion is only thirteen, and his father’s will is for Merion to travel to American frontier and live with his aunt Lilain until he comes of age. Then, he can return to England and take ownership of his place in English high society.

Suddenly, Merion is on a boat, then a train, then he’s stuck in the desert town of Fell Falls. His aunt is the local undertaker, dealing in the bodies of rail workers. There are magical things out here at the edge of the world. Railwraiths attack the workers. The Shohari savages think this is their land. In fact, Merion has a mythical friend of his own: Rhin, a faerie he’s known for years who he rescued from a crippling injury.

But there’s something else going on here. Aunt Lilain keeps asking people to bring their dead pets and dead animals. She collects their blood in vials for reasons she won’t divulge. And then there’s Lurker, the prospector. People say he can smell gold. He seems to think Merion should know something. Something else he inherited from his father. Lilain keeps all that blood for a reason. That secret may be the key to Merion finding out who murdered his father. It could be his ticket out of Fell Falls.

It could also kill him.

That's my summary. Here's the one I pulled from the author's website

“Magick ain’t pretty, it ain’t stars and sparkles. Magick is dirty. It’s rough. Raw. It’s blood and guts and vomit. You hear me?”
When Prime Lord Hark is found in a pool of his own blood on the steps of his halls, Tonmerion Hark finds his world not only turned upside down, but inside out. His father's last will and testament forces him west across the Iron Ocean, to the very brink of the Endless Land and all civilisation. They call it Wyoming.
This is a story of murder and family.
In the dusty frontier town of Fell Falls, there is no silverware, no servants, no plush velvet nor towering spires. Only dust, danger, and the railway. Tonmerion has only one friend to help him escape the torturous heat and unravel his father’s murder. A faerie named Rhin. A twelve-inch tall outcast of his own kind. 
This is a story of blood and magick.
But there are darker things at work in Fell Falls, and not just the railwraiths or the savages. Secrets lurk in Tonmerion's bloodline. Secrets that will redefine this young Hark.
This is a story of the edge of the world.


I haven’t read a lot of Westerns, but I’m familiar with the genre, at least a little. Between The Magnificent Seven and Oklahoma!, well, I know that the frontier was a thing. The building of the transcontinental railroad is intriguing to me, though I haven’t pursued learning about it much… yet.

Bloodrush is set in the middle of the building, and wow, did it make things interesting. I loved Galley’s take on this alternative history, where magick is real and wraiths can make bodies from the metal and wood of the track. There’s a lot that’s interesting here, and the magic system that Lurker and Lilain reveal is enthralling. I want to know all about it, so while I can’t agree with how Merion handled things (he’s 13, after all) I understand his drive and lust for more knowledge.


Galley writes very deeply, with clear understanding of his subject matter. I don’t want to say he’s long-winded, because he isn’t, but Bloodrush took me longer to read than I expected. He’s not long-winded, but he is a little slow to read. At least he was for me. It wasn’t boring or difficult, but it just seemed like I barely made headway after a long reading session. This is a book to chip away at. Definitely a marathon, not a sprint.

The book is, though, very well crafted and well put together. Galley keeps things interesting with different elements of tension between characters and events. Part of me did feel like some sections were longer than necessary and that they dragge, but they still weren’t bad. I wish it had moved faster. That may just be Galley’s writing style clashing a bit with my reading style. I can’t say for sure, since this is the first of his books I’ve read. Will I pick up one of his books again? Yes.

My Thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect with Bloodrush. I had no idea I’d be running into a fairy early on, or that there would be magick as cool as the system Galley has created. I didn’t know I’d come across railwraiths, Shohari, or anything like this at all. It was a pleasant surprise to find myself in a magically-influenced history with an English lordling stuck out in the American desert frontier. The climax was exhilarating, and I could honestly have watched a whole 30-minute TV show of just that scene alone.

On the whole, I liked this book a lot, but I did feel it took a bit more of my time than I wanted. I do not regret reading it, but I wish it had gone by faster. I will have to read more of Galley’s works to see if that’s normal for my reading style, or if this was a one-time thing.

Would I Recommend This Book? Sure! This is a fun, intriguing murder mystery (sort of) where the one who wants to solve it get sent half a world away from the scene before he can blink twice. Throw in a new world with different customs and magick, and you’ve got a recipe for thought-provoking action. I give Bloodrush a hoarded 4 of 5 stars.

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