The latest Eric Carter book by Stephen Blackmoore is out and we could not wait to read it. BROKEN SOULS is a noir urban fantasy with a cohesive and logical magic system, scary-ass gods and monsters, plenty of action, phenomenal characters, and a lead who can never catch a break (nor would we want him to). If it's wrong to enjoy a fictional character's misery this much, we don't want to be right.
Eric's life is already in the crapper from page 1. His sister and best friend are dead. His ex hates him. Oh, and he's married to Santa Muerte, an Aztec death goddess. That's sure to end well. It takes almost no time before someone new wants him dead, he drags some new allies into his shitstorm of a life, has dealings with the exes, and makes lots of things go boom.
For fans of Blackmoore's CITY OF THE LOST, Gabriela is back in town. Didn't read that one? First, she is so freaking awesome this review almost became the lovesong of Gabriela. Second, go fix that and read Blackmoore's other books. Gabriela has power and a ton of common sense, unfortunately, you need two metric tons to avoid getting caught up in Eric's troubles. She's built up a pretty good life for herself and isn't without a social conscience. She also isn't above killing people in horrible ways when it has to happen. A very layered character. We just want more.
The sophomore effort in a series can be tricky, but BROKEN SOULS doesn't fall into a slump. We can't wait for book 3.
Read on for our chat about this most amazing read, and tell us your thoughts on the book. Warning, there are a few spoilers ahead.
Meghan B - Okay, down to business. Eric Carter and the complete mess he's made of his life
Kathy -He does make the worst choices. Other than teaming up with Gabriela, cause she is the shit.
Meghan B - God, she was just made of high caliber awesome
Kathy - I am not surprised that we love her - she has about everything I want in a heroine: smart, powerful, strong, she has a sense of wanting to help her community but she's not above profiting off it either.
Meghan B - I liked that she didn't suffer fools. She barely suffered Eric.
Kathy - I love their first meeting. She kicks much ass. And her "Don't look at me" shirts.
Meghan B - Can I just mention how much I LOVE Eric's sharpie magic? That is the best, most simple and yet most awesome application of magic ever
Kathy - YES. The magic system is awesome and modern and makes sense. Common sense. That doesn't always happen in fantasy.
Meghan B - ESPECIALLY not urban fantasy.
Kathy - True, there are some series that give their magic systems concrete form, but most don't delve into it too much. I guess too, that a lot of UF has vamps and shifters, so there isn't the magic structure so much.
Meghan B - The magic in the Eric Carter series is the kind I like to see; inventive, imaginative, logical, consistent.
Kathy - And costly. Eric is starting to pay for his ill-advised deal with Santa Muerte.
Meghan B - Seriously! My god, I have no idea how Stephen does it. He tears Eric to absolute shreds, mentally and physically. I respect an author who can torment a character but not let it become a miasma of grimdark nonsense.
Kathy - Letting Eric keep the blade in the end, oh that made me want book 3 SO BAD.
Meghan B - BOOK THREE NOW PLZ
Kathy - How did you feel about Tabitha? And I guess, Santa Muerte's long game...
Meghan B - That was a punch in the private area. I can not believe it. I still just can't. Santa Muerte's game is much longer and convoluted than any of us can imagine. Eric is so fucked.
Kathy - It made me wonder how far back she's been playing. Could she have been involved in his parents' murder, or did his revenge killing just put him on her radar. I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO TRUST
Meg - And neither does Eric, which is delightfully evil
Kathy - I love that Gabriela totes called it with Tabitha.
Meghan B - Gabriela is one of the few people with her head on straight, I'll tell you that much
Kathy - Eric could learn a thing or thousand from her.
Meghan B - Eric isn't exactly reckless, though. He's willful and unlucky and perpetually beaten and bloody, but he tries to plan. It's just that he gets outfoxed a lot.
Kathy - True. His meeting with the Santa Anas was inspired. Also, having witnessed the Santa Anas for myself, I fully appreciate the firepower he was dealing with. He just keeps having to make these utterly crap deals. Then he finds out he's screwed again.
Meghan B -Well, he's dealing with some ANCIENT fucking gods. He's significantly outclassed. I love the mythology of this series. I knew next to knowing about Santa Muerte or the Aztec gods, and this is a fascinating introduction to them.
Kathy - It is. I'm finding my fav series tend to mix the mythologies, where human belief makes things powerful, so these pantheons exist side by side.
Meghan B - Like Kevin Hearne's books
Kathy - Yeppers. Ilona Andrews, Neil Gaiman, it's so much fun to see them play together. Them being other mythologies
Meghan B - Needs more Coyote. Get on that, Blackmoore.
Kathy - We need to start a campaign for more Coyote.
Meghan B - AGREED. He is my favorite mythological figure. I love a good trickster.
Kathy - I can just imagine Coyote totally fucking with Eric, and Gabriela not falling for any of his shit.
Meghan B - Man, who doesn't fuck with Eric.
Kathy - This time, we meet Santa Muerte's ex. Where do you think that's going? Does he really want to stay a staue. Does SM really want Eric instead of guy #1?
Meghan B - See, here's the thing, Santa Muerte and her ex are both unreliable. Santa Muerte lies and twists things for her own gain, and so does this asshole. They're both playing long games and it's hard to see where their TRUE intentions are. I do think these plots have been in motion much, much longer than Eric realizes.
Kathy - Oh yeah. Almost like they were just waiting for someone with his kind of power. Except now he also has this neat little knife... Who do you think set the skin stealer in motion?
Meghan B - I think it was Santa Muerte but I'm not sure.
Kathy - It could go either way. Or be both. Would not surprise me. I'm waiting to see if any other gods decide to get in on the action.
Meghan B - I wonder if other death gods are watching this with interest, or waiting to speak to Eric. Thus far, we've really only dealt with the Aztec gods. Would Hades or Hel be equally as interested in Eric's powers? He doesn't make being a necromancer sound rare, but how many could there truly be, and at his level?
Kathy - We know he's worked for the Loa. Hades or Hel, that would be cool.
Meghan B - There are so many places it could go. I swear, I turned the page expecting a new chapter and was met with the end of the book and I gasped out loud. There must be more.
Kathy - Not to be too spoilery, but in City of the Lost, Gabriela is able to visit the death realm for a bit, but it messes her up. However, Eric does it so easily. Makes sense that he might be on a whole other plane. It was over too soon.
Meghan B - It was such a swift read. Breakneck pace. So good.
Kathy - Good action too, right from the start. How do you feel about the city as a character? Interested in the view of someone maybe not so familiar with LA.
Meghan B - I know NOTHING about LA. I'm partly convinced it's imaginary. All I know about it, I've learned from Blackmoore's books and the Sandman Slim books from Richard Kadrey. If I go there and it's not crawling with demons and stuff, I will be severely disappointed. As a character, it's FANTASTIC. LA feels like it has a grimy, tarnished grace about it, like an alcoholic, washed up actress who was once glamorous and beautiful but is now just a hollow shambles.
Kathy - I've been there. It's not hard to imagine demons running around. Especially on the 405 past the Getty Center (has to be an epicenter of evil). The 91 could easily be the highway to hell, and the 5 - somebody got the bad end of a deal with horrible beings. I haven't even gotten to LAX yet or the air quality or the streets...
Meghan B - I'm used to the tired elegance of New York and the boastful, dirty historical bluster of Philadelphia. LA is a WHOLE different animal. It's one of my top five cities to read about. It's endlessly fascinating.
Kathy - "Hollow shambles" kinda covers it. And the OC is its over-botoxed cousin that you might superficially say looks nice, but everyone knows that a lot of work has been done. I admit it, I'm biased. There's a good reason I left.
Meghan B - I can't blame you. How actual humans live there is beyond me.
Kathy - See, I've never been to NYC, so that is still easy for me to dream about.
Meghan B - Cultural exchange! I'll go to LA and be a tourist, you come to NYC and be a tourist
Kathy - YAY! That sounds like a plan.
Meghan B - Here's the thing I think about LA. LA just has this feeling that no one gives a shit. In NYC, they project that they don't, but secretly everyone gives MANY shits about what others think. That's why it gave us hipsters. But LA? A dude covered in tattoos, covered in blood, can wander down the street and people are like "eh"
Kathy - What do you think is next for Eric, Gabriela, and Vivian. Viv doesn't play a huge part, and when he really should have called her to warn her about Tabitha, he called Lady G instead. A part of me hopes he stops tormenting both of them and just leaves her alone. But will his enemies? Probably not.
Meghan B - Well, Eric's completely fucked. Gabriela's fucked by association.
Kathy - Yep. Although now her secret is out and she's lost her homebase and some of her most trusted soldiers. She might need Eric more than she wants to admit.
Meghan B - She sounded pretty over him, but I know fate will hurl them together again. Fate is evil like that.
Kathy - I do have faith in Blackmoore, though, to keep Eric miserable for the next few books. And really, that's what I want.
Meghan B - Oh yeah, there is nothing I love more than seeing Eric Carter suffer. He and John Constantine should hang out in a bar or something and just talk about their awful luck. Eric always felt like he had a pinch of Constantine in him to me
Kathy - Eric, Constantine and Darius are in a bar, Death and Morpheus stroll in...
Meghan B - There are no survivors.