Sunday, April 26, 2015

My review of the Coming of Crow by Joel Jenkins. An excellent read!

 The Coming of Crow is a 308 page collection of short stories, written by Joel Jenkins, and published in October of 2014 by PulpWork Press. The collection features Jenkins' character, Lone Crow, in a series of interconnected short stories. Set in the Old (and, I might add, very weird) West, Crow is a Native American bounty hunter, and is the last of his tribe. As he travels across the land, Crow comes across a number of famous faces, including both Wyatt Earp and Bass Reeves.

While Crow's skill as a manhunter is known both far and wide, his knack for solving problems of a supernatural nature tend to set him apart from others in his profession, and subsequently brings him to the attention of the secretive Miskatonic University. Working both on his own, and on the behalf of his erstwhile employers, Crow faces down a great number of unnatural creatures. Whether it be demons, werewolves, immortals, or things from another plane of existence, Crow and his blessed Colt Peacemaker have encountered them all, and sent them packing. Throughout these encounters, Crow remains unflappable, and manages to overcome every obstacle set in his path, no matter how otherworldly it may be.

The author relates Crow's adventures in a classic adventure style, with realistic Western settings, charismatic characters, and more supernatural bogles than you can shake a stick at. He includes a number of secretive cults that are working to unleash their blasphemous gods on the universe, a nod to HPL (via REH's contributions to the Mythos), along with a number of equally secretive ancient societies that are attempting to stop the madmen (and women) from letting loose Hell on Earth. Miskatonic University is but one of these societies, and the author's portrayal of the university, and its faculty, is a bit different than other fictional versions of the institution. As a whole, the university's representatives seem much more mercenary in their dealings than usual, and the characters, quite frequently, have just enough knowledge about a situation to assure their own doom. That is, until Crow steps in, and manages to pull their collective fat out of the fire. Despite his heroism, Crow is still looked down upon, seen as a 'witless savage' by many of the characters he encounters, including a number of his employers. He usually ignores such stupidity with stoic resolve, but it was a great pleasure to watch many of these bigots get their just desserts, and come to a much deserved bad end.

I mentioned REH (Robert Ervin Howard, the creator of Conan and sundry other characters, and a fellow Texan) a little earlier, and the author's writing raises the ghost of that esteemed fellow, with Crow's travels reminding me very much of my favorite REH character... Solomon Kane. I'm not saying that the collection is derivative, in any way, I'm saying that the two characters share a similar soul, and a similar raison d'etre. Plus, I'm trying to give the author one of the highest compliments I can bestow, the best way I know how, being that I cut my teeth on REH's characters, and he remains one of my go-to authors when I want to experience pure adventure storytelling. Jenkins manages to create a character and universe that evoke the same feeling that I had as a young man when first discovering adventure fiction, and for that, I owe him my wholehearted thanks. With a quick moving and to-the-point style, plenty of blood-and-fire, and weirdness galore, The Coming of Crow is an absolute page-turner. I was shocked to realize that it was a 308 page release, as the various adventures flew by so quickly, that I was done in almost no time at all. Very enjoyable reading, and highly recommended...

Here's where you can pick up the release. Here's Joel's author page on Amazon. Here's the publisher's site. Finally, here's an interview with the author that was conducted by Derrick Ferguson. And on that note, I suppose I'll be signing off. As usual, happy reading!

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