Zakk reviews Under The Wall by Troy Blackford

 
The Mouths of Madness Podcastshow presents The Eyes of Madness, “Simple reviews from a simple reader…”

Zakk reviews Under The Wall: Leviticus book 2 by Troy Blackford. 540 pages published by Troy Blackford Publications.

“The dizzying potential life waves only occasionally in our faces can’t be even fractionally realized save through an endless chain of exhaustive effort, scarred flesh, and blood sacrifices. The idea that permanence is an illusion is advanced solely to mask the horrific truth that even the most ephemeral concept of continuity is, itself, illusory.

Life is nothing but change—and therefore resists any less transient definition.”

Synopsis:

Where ‘Through the Woods’ ended, the real story begins…

Out of an entire litter of dangerously telekinetic felines, two cats alone remain. Deinonychus, bent on domination, has been adopted by an apathetic mother and her overly-enthusiastic little girl. Without the live food or freedom to wield his power, he is going slowly mad with boredom and is furious at how useless he feels. His powers might be dried up until he can bathe them in blood once more, but his cunning and ruthlessness have not deserted him, and he waits and watches for his chance to slip out the door.

Leviticus, the runt of the litter but with a deep and sleeping power coveted by his malicious brother, feels at peace with his new adoptive family, the Redcliffes, and feels that, for the first time, his life makes sense. Unfortunately, the calm isn’t permitted to last long.

Fresh NUCPA agent Ben Chesterton, a former supply clerk promoted after proving himself resourceful in the events of THROUGH THE WOODS, teams up once more with his old boss Rick Hathaway to track down the escaped felines. Unfortunately for the team, the NUCPA group aren’t the only people aware of what’s at stake.

Navigating a web of treachery and violence, the team try to track down the cats before the rivalry erupts into unrestrained mayhem, but with the fate of the Twin Cities-and perhaps beyond-in the balance, when is exactly has it become ‘too late?’

The circle of influence for each cat expands as they gain control of their own powers, but will Leviticus find the inner strength to withstand the trials ahead?

“He awoke confused more and more often these days, and not just because he was waking up more times than he could remember falling asleep.

It wasn’t so much that he was losing time, though that was part of it. It was the things he kept finding that really started to get to him. The other morning, he had found a fingernail next to him in his bed. Not a nail clipping, but an entire nail, with a worn bit of lavender nail polish and something that looked like a few drops of red polish but wasn’t. He had looked at that fingernail for an hour before he gave up on trying to remember its provenance and simply put it up on the shelf with the rest of his ‘findings.’”

I’ve never taken any sort hallucinogenic or psychotropic drugs or medication, but I’d imagine the subsequent trip to be something akin to Under the Wall. This book is a trip. Not quite the face-melting tripping-balls kind, but a surreal, astral-projection kind of trip about sibling felines, products of government experiments, surviving in new worlds after a near cataclysmic event. An event they were thought to have perished in.

Now, I’ve read a few works from Troy Blackford in the past so I know that the only thing a reader can truly expect from him is the unexpected so it wasn’t surprising that this book defies categorization.

Let me amend that first statement, there’s a second constant that can be expected with a Troy Blackford read, that being rich, involving & challenging prose. Intelligent without talking down to you. Like you are being led by the hand through an off balance landscape by someone who cares for you and your well being. Someone slightly more experienced, someone who has already put the pieces together and will show you how they fit if you haven’t solved the puzzle, in time. A precisely controlled chaos that is constantly entertaining.

And that statement holds true here. I was hooked by the lives of these felines immediately. With the cat point of view being quite refreshing. The biggest hurdle for me here is that Under The Wall is a direct sequel to a book I haven’t read, Through The Woods. And while I don’t feel it a necessity to have prior knowledge of Through The Woods to enjoy Under The Wall, there are quite a few nods to the previous events that seem awfully interesting and I’d love to know how that story played out. I have the gist of it, with minimal to no spoilers, enough to know that this is a new stage in their lives. Something tells me that I’ll want to venture there soon. I’ll have to go at it Tarantino style, out of order.

The book follows Deinonychus, his journey and the journey of the humans (the Namers) tracking him, hunting him, while he hunts territorial alphas and then his sibling, more so than the path of Leviticus. I’d love to know more about Leviticus, again a gentle pull toward Through The Wall. But I can’t be upset about spending time following the thoroughly destructive path Deinonychus struts as he becomes acclimated to the return of his abilities. Especially during the kick ass & chaotic back third of the book. Where Deinonychus is asserting his full control and the hired muscle trying to capture the pair of cats is loosing his faculties.

Under The Wall is a hell of a read in size and scope. You should definitely check it out, but maybe hit up Book 1 first.

“’Keep that up,’ Tamara said, tucking a stray strand of hair back behind her ears. ‘By all means, keep that kind of thing up.’”

Overall score: 4.5 / 5

Put Under the Wall on a playlist with Stephen King’s stories Quitters, Inc., The Ledge, and General (aka Cat’s Eye), The Cat From Hell & Sleepwalkers.

Zakk is a big dumb animal!

“Take a penny, leave a penny.”

  

**Note: I was gifted a copy of this book from the author on the promise of an honest review. These are my unbiased feelings.

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