“Ex Libris The Eyes of Madness presents simple reviews from a simple reader…”
Zakk reviews Bloodwalker by L. X. Cain, 284 pages published by Freedom Fox Press (October 4, 2016).
“She clutched her suitcase to her chest, trying to avoid the prying glances and the impacts of passengers brushing past. Cowering simply produced more stares. But she felt safer behind her makeshift shield. At least it was light, although it contained all her belongings. A tiny box for a tiny life.”
Lightning flashes. Another child disappears…
Zorka Circus’s big top roars with laughter and cheers, but when it moves on, children vanish.
Circus Security Chief Rurik suspects a killer hides among the performers, but they close ranks—they’ve always viewed lightning-scarred Rurik as the monster. He must find the culprit before anyone else disappears and his home is destroyed by the murders.
Into Zorka Circus comes the Skomori clan, despised as gravedigging ghouls. A one-day truce allows bloodwalker Sylvie to marry. Instead, she finds a body. Alerting others will defy her clan’s strict code, break the truce, and leave her an outcast.
When more bodies turn up, the killer’s trail becomes impossible to ignore. Rurik and Sylvie must follow the clues—even if they lead to something unimaginable…
“Six against one. Hardly a fair fight. But the clowns knew that whatever happened, Rurik wouldn’t rat them out. Even if he did, they wouldn’t be fired.
There were only two punishable offenses in circus life. You never messed with someone else’s act, and you never, ever involved the police. Everything else was fair game.”
First Impressions (judging the book by it’s cover)
I first became acquainted with the work of L.X. Cain in December of last year when I was given the opportunity to check out a couple of her short pieces, the youthfully fun The Mission & the fantastic zombie story Biggun. When the opportunity to take a crack at Bloodwalker came my way I was pretty excited.
The cover art for Bloodwalker instills a Something Wicked vibe, hinting at a dark carnival type of yarn, which appeals to me immensely. The carnival atmosphere is unsettling as it is, the sketchy personnel making you feel just a tad unsafe (they play this vibe up, right? Tell me they intentionally play this vibe up), the cloying scent of cotton candy and fried heavenly goodies masking an underlying scent of danger. Add a vein of terror, a thick shadow of malice (which the carnival environment exudes naturally) and you are speaking my language. Cover aside, I am going into this read blindly. No reading of the synopsis, no checking out of fellow reviews. I am being drawn in by the suggestions of the cover and by my knowledge of L.X.’s quality storytelling.
I feel as though I am in for a ride.
“Sylvie’s bouquet trembled. This close, the men looked frighteningly familiar. They resembled the thief from the RV, same brown hair, Neanderthal brow, square jawline, and weight-lifter’s body…except these were taller and older. Otherwise, the similarity was so strong they had to be related. Did they know the thief—or killer—and about the body, too? What if there was a whole family of killers living in the circus?”
Final Thoughts (judging the book by it’s content)
Bloodwalker is a romp! I had a delightful time trudging through this mysterious tome. I love stories that take me out of the United States and show me dark visions of other cultures, landscapes. The views from inside a European travelling circus are fascinating. The traditions instilled by the lineage of performing families, the hardships of maintaining and relocating a massive production, the inclusive almost segregated nature of the talent, and especially the unwritten code of conduct and internal justice the performers live by. It makes for captivating storytelling.
On the other side of the Circus tent is the Bloodwalkers themselves, something akin to an “old world” mystic/ mortician.Bound by honor and arranged marriage, it is an equally fascinating story-line that plays off the Carnival mystery well. Are these honest, researched takes on these themes? I really couldn’t tell you. Although it feels completely honest, it rings true. Either L.X. did a monumental amount of research for this book or she has first hand insight into these worlds, perhaps through kin. I’d believe either or both as fact as the book is rich in culture and mythology.
The main character Rurik, Circus Security Chief and former strongman is superb. I dug him so much. His backstory, his loyalty to the circus, and his arc throughout the read, pure entertainment and my favorite aspect to the tale. I would have been happy just delving more into his character, mainly his past. The rest of the cast is nearly as captivating, each with their unique personalities. Lump them together with wonderfully dismal locations and bleak carnage and you find yourself with a hell of a reading experience.
Beware the clowns. Seriously, fuck those surly clowns.
Bloodwalker is a great way to spend a few dark evenings. 4.5/ 5
Zakk is a big dumb animal!
**Note: I received a complimentary copy of this book from the author and/ or publisher and I am reviewing it voluntarily. These are my honest, unbiased feelings. I did not receive any sort of compensation.
About the Author
L.X. Cain was born in the U.S. but now lives on the Red Sea and busily taps away at a laptop, coming up with stories to thrill and entertain readers.
Contact L.X. Cain
Praise for Bloodwalker
“YA horror novelist Cain (Soul Cutter) steps right up to the center ring in this captivating shocker of children disappearing after the circus comes to town.” ~ Publishers Weekly
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