Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Review: "Stone Cold Bastards" by Jake Bible

How could I pass up a book called “Stone Cold Bastards” ($15.95, Bell Bridge Books) with a hero that’s a cigar-chomping gargoyle, umm, I mean grotesque, charged with saving humanity from a demon invasion?

I couldn’t, of course. So that’s why the latest from Bram Stoker Award-nominated author Jake Bible leapfrogged to the top of my to-read list.

The situation is dire. The Gates of Hell have opened, and most of the humans in the world are husks, walking around possessed by the demons that escaped. Think “The Walking Dead,” only the zombies are far more malevolent.

Humanity’s last hope may lie in a small sanctuary that was transplanted to the Appalachian mountains years ago. Inside lives a ragtag group of gargoyles and grotesques who woke at the same time demons began spilling into the world. They were imbued by their creators, the Stonecutters, with one goal, protect the wards within their sanctuary from harm. So far, the Gs, as they call themselves to avoid confusion, have held strong, but Hell is coming.

Chief among the Gs is our hero Mordecai, or Morty, the archetypal gruff monster with a heart of gold. While the gargoyle Artus provides the power that protects the sanctuary, Morty holds it together. With the sanctuary running short on supplies (and cigars), he heads out on a run that just may shift the balance – one way or the other.

“Stone Cold Bastards” features, at least to me, a premise that you can’t help but want to explore. On the surface it sounds absurd, and you want to see if Bible can pull it off. He does fantastically. While there are some lead human characters, they really fade into the background around Morty and his colorful cast of cohorts, who steal the show. The glimpses into their backstories that we get make me want to learn more about them, particularly the mysterious Roan, the dragon atop the sanctuary that holds himself a bit apart from the rest.

The tone and tempo of Bible’s story reminds me quite a bit of Larry Correia’s Monster Hunter series, and that’s not a bad thing at all. It’s an action-packed book that doesn’t take itself too seriously. "Stone Cold Bastards” delivers exactly what you want out of a story featuring gargoyles protecting the last members of the human race from a demon invasion – it’s fast, it’s fun, it’s colorful and it’s one hell of a good time.

This was my first experience with Jake Bible, but it won’t be my last.


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