The Trail of the Beast by Matt Spencer (A Book Review)

Posted: September 7, 2015 in Book Review
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Trail of the BeastThe Trail of the Beast
By Matt Spencer
Damnation Books LLC

Sequels are hard. They need to live up to all the hype of the first book, continue the story, and keep the reader on the hook for the third piece. All while telling a concise story in and of itself.

While “The Night and the Land” (the first book of Matt Spencer’s Deschembine Trilogy) set up the expectation of an epic urban (for want of a better term) fantasy, “Trail of the Beast” is where he delivers. No longer are the main protagonists, Rob and Sally, figuring out their place in the world and with each other. They’ve grown comfortable with each and their lot, and perhaps a touch complacent. It’s this complacency that Spencer upends in dramatic fashion- starting with the abduction of Sally from her and Rob’s new home.

Whereas the first book had a sense of the personal, of a greater conflict encapsulated within the struggles of a few, here Spencer let’s events spiral dangerously out of control. Other players are dragged in. The status quo is dramatically changed, altered, and the very landscape is upended as a result.

Where Spencer is strongest though, continues to be the relationships, the drives, of his main characters. How their actions, especially Rob’s roaring rampage of revenge, affect the larger world is hinted at in places, but the reader doesn’t ever get a full sense of the chaos that’s going on in the world outside of a few hints. Pulling the focus off the characters a bit, going to the bigger picture for context, would probably have been useful to show that not only are Rob and Sally not in Kansas anymore, but the entire world has been irrevocably changed.

Spencer continues to excel at brutal combat situations, and he isn’t afraid to let his characters get as good as they give. The fights are brutal, and gory and reminiscent of the best of Joe Abercrombie and Matthew Stover.

Over all, I highly recommend “Trail of the Beast” to anyone who enjoys a vicious revenge tale, urban fantasy, and stories where another world lurks just underneath the surface of what they can see.

5 out of 5 stars.

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