Coyle and Fang: Curse of Shadows by Robert Adauto III
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Not What I was Expecting.
This book was billed as a John Wick meets Sherlock Holmes [Victorian] adventure … which I guess is why Amazon pegged it as Steampunk; but that really didn’t drive the story much; making it mostly windows dressing for what was arguably more horror fiction than steampunk noir. The only connection I found to anything Sherlockian was the MC [Coyle] use of a pipe with an apparent penchant for details that debuted early in the story before disappearing for most of the rest. Presumably the other MC [Fang] was supposed to be “John Wick” of the story … but I couldn’t see that connection anywhere.
What you do get and a horror plot set in an imaginary 19th century San Fransisco with vampires, fae and gnomes that spend more time in the mind bending games/drug induced dreams (that were a struggle to work through) and less detective work or straight up action (not accompanied by mental torment or struggle). And what exactly did the Templars add to all of this? I couldn’t figure that out either (other than to add a level of “coolness” to the story) … make this a highly derivative and formulaic story that did not work well for me.
The narration was good for the story as actually told (my wife really like it). So … forget any preconceptions you might have from the blurb … what you get here is a mad “boogeyman” bent on corrupting people into new and horrifying creatures such a ghouls) using a book of magic knowns as the Curse of Shadows. Fang is a vampire assassin introduced with her escape from the lab/prison that made her [different that other vampires]. Coyle is a talented constable/boy scout trying to overcome an eye popping level of misogyny within the SF deceive ranks who is cashiered for giving into to her justified anger during a detective exam. Add a gratuitous pipe to complete the nominal connection to Holmes just in case the read can’t make the obvious connection on their own.
While the origin stories didn’t work for me, they were done relatively well. The two outcasts eventually team up to find the Curse of Shadows before it was too late. They are opposed by a shapeshifting fae that adds s few twists. Eventually the super spies … er … protagonists … end up in the bad guy’s layer for a marginally wickian chain of unbelievable action sequences. Just relax and enjoy the predictable marched toward a satisfying end.
I was given this free advance listener copy (ALC) audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.
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My Ratings Explained ...
- [ ***** ] Amazing Read - Perfect story, exciting, engrossing, well developed complex characters, solid plot with few to no holes, descriptive environments and place settings, great mystery elements, realistic dialogue, believable reactions and behaviors; a favorite that I can re-read many times.
- [ **** ] Great Read - Highly entertaining and enjoyable, exciting storyline, well developed characters and settings, a few discrepancies but nothing that can’t be overlooked. Some aspect of the story was new/refreshing to me and/or intriguing. Recommended for everyone.
- [ *** ] Good Read - Solid story with a 'good' ending, or has some other redeeming feature. Limited character development and/or over reliance on tropes. Noticeable discrepancies in world building and/or dialog/behavior that were distracting. I connected enough with the characters/world to read the entire series. Most of the books I read for fun are here. Recommended for fans of the genre.
- [ ** ] Okay Read - Suitable for a brief, afternoon escape … flat or shallow characters with little to no development. Over the top character dialog and/or behavior. Poor world building with significant issues and/or mistakes indicating poor research. Excessive use of trivial detail, info dumps and/or pontification. Any issues with the story/characters are offset by some other aspect that I enjoyed. Not very memorable. May only appeal to a niche group of readers. Recommended for some (YMMV).
- [ * ] Bad Read - Awkward and/or confusing writing style. Poor world building and/or unbelievable (or unlikeable) characters. Victimization, gaslighting, blatant abuse, unnecessary violence, child endangerment, or any other highly objectionable behaviors by Main characters. I didn't connect with the story at all; significant aspects of this story irritated me enough that I struggled to finished it. Series was abandoned. Not recommended.