Darren Lee Compton’s ‘Graveslinger’ is an epic tale of relentless horror and action set in a world where the creatures of the night lurk among us. But thanks to the Order of the Immortuos Venandi, humankind is left in the dark, blissfully unaware of the terrors waiting in the shadows… that is until the Pacific Northwest chapter of the organization is infiltrated with a deadly virus known as Ghoul Fever, leading to a containment protocol that destroys the facility.
The story centers on Fiya Pratt Diaz, a hunter within the organization, who returns from an assignment in Alaska to the news that her base of operations had been destroyed. Her suspicions of an inside job are raised when only one other hunter, Paul DeMatto, answers the call. He warns her that his apartment was trashed, and speculates on the fates of their colleagues, as well as their own if they don’t leave town immediately. Suspecting a larger conspiracy and refusing to run away, Fiya hits the road in an attempt to stay one step ahead of whoever masterminded the hit on the organization and her colleagues, leading her to cross paths with Thomas Bradley and his young daughter Liama, two human civilians who escaped captivity from the demon Violess, and whom are being hunted by a pack of vicious Werewolves lead by the savage Kael. In over her head, and with no resources or back-up from the Immortuos Venandi headquarters, who also remain mysteriously silent, Fiya desperately fights to keep Thomas and Liama alive and out of the hands of Violess with the aid of her retired former mentor Rutger Bronson, a hardened badass living in seclusion and off the grid. Pursued by Werewolves, Ghouls, and Demons, the rag tag group find themselves on a collision course with an ancient evil, leading to an epic and satisfying conclusion that is thrilling and surprisingly emotional.
‘Graveslinger’ largely succeeds because of its characters: Fiya Pratt Diaz is a well-rounded leading protagonist who is part Snake Plissken and part John McClane with her take-no-shit attitude and toughness, but she’s also presented as very humane as well, especially with her interactions with young Liama. Compton manages to give a proper balance of strength and heart with the character, making her feel more like a human being than a superhero. Speaking of which, Fiya is also a character who can, and does, get hurt, and Compton further humanizes his character by allowing her to experience bodily limitations instead of opting for an invulnerable comic-book badass that can withstand anything. Here, Fiya feels pain; bodily wounds, blood loss, sleep deprivation, and something eating away at her stomach. These realistic obstacles add some depth to the character, and also enhances the intensity of the big moments of peril that the characters are thrust in.
The supporting cast of characters are also well done, with each feeling important and useful. The two standouts being Rutger, who has an effective surrogate father relationship with Fiya, and Kael, a brute of a Werewolf and a character I want to read more about in the future. Both are given their own distinct personalities that make them fun characters to read. Thomas and Liama are the more standard characters of the story, but that’s not a bad thing: they effectively work as our anchors to this world. They are the more innocent characters to the story and give Fiya purpose. As far as the villain of the story, Violess, well she’s one of those antagonists that you can’t wait until they get their comeuppance, and when it happens you cheer.
Ultimately, if you’re looking for a fun, thrilling tale of monster mayhem, ‘Graveslinger’ may be the book for you. Featuring great characters, imaginative action and horror, and a pace so brisk that you’ll finish before you even realize it, ‘Graveslinger’ is a must read for genre fans.
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