Author: Preston & Child
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Genre: Dark Mystery
Unique Elements: Super resourceful modern sleuth and brilliant protégé deal with dark and occult murders.
Series: Agent Pendergast series, #15
Release Date: November 10, 2015
Number of Pages: 340 pages
MSRP: $26.98 Hardcover/Audio ; $13.99 eBook
Discount Link: Click Here
Website: Click Here
Purchase Site: Click Here
Reviewed by: J.T. Hanke
Final Score: 5 Moons (out of 5)
After his near death experience a few months ago, agent Pendergast decides to take a smaller case–one that deals with a wine theft in the tiny town of Exmouth, Massachusetts.
However, shortly after arriving, the murder of a visiting writer in a darkly occult manner forces Pendergast and his exceptional ward, Constance, to explore Exmouth’s dark history involving rumors of mass murder, shipwrecks, and witchcraft.
After Pendergast’s less successful outing in a small town in White Fire, I was a little concerned with how things were going to go when he ventures back into yet another small town. However, to my vast relief, rather than feeling like a lackluster retread of my beloved Still Life With Crows (the first Pendergast in a small town story), this is a uniquely new tale that, while it has reflections of both Still Life with Crows and even White Fire, does so in a way that shows this is a true continuation of these stories. And, in fact, it actually emphasizes some elements in White Fire that make that book a more essential part of the Pendergast canon.
The ending is a cliffhanger that will leave fans of the series chomping at the bit and counting down until the next book in the series. (Many writers who do both single books and trilogies of books in a series tend to have trouble making their trilogies tight; however, I’ve always been very impressed with the Pendergast trilogies.)
The dynamics of Pendergast and a potential student in Corrie were some of the weaker points in White Fire, but in Blue Labyrinth, Pendergast resurges in a big way and Constance takes her role first as pupil, but then as protector.
This dynamic continues its fascinating progression in Crimson Shore. Pendergast returns to much of his Still Life With Crows wittiness, while Constance develops her own style. As they move into equality of power, they draw up to and begin to surpass Holmes and Watson–because their intellect is more equal. In some ways, they sort of resemble a gender swapped version of Moulder & Sculley from The X-Files.
Uncovering mysteries about the Salem Witch Trials, dark curses, lost covens, mass murder, body snatching, and a sinister cover up all put Crimson Shore squarely in the purview of our audience. The continuing empowerment and exploration of the complicated Constance, who manages to be a dazzling foil to the equally byzantine Pendergast continues the series rise within Gothic literature.
While I’ve said before I’d love to see a spinoff novel series featuring Constance, I am now convinced that they work better in the novels as a team.
With that said, Constance could be a solution to Gordian knot involving visual rights surrounding the Pendergast universe.
Due to their options for the film, Relic, based on the first novel in the Pendergast series, Paramount owns the film & television rights to all characters appearing in the original novel, despite the fact that they ended up deleting Pendergast from the film they made. Constance, however, and the estate she exists in debuted two books later in Cabinet of Curiosities, so both she and it would not be covered by those rights. As such, with some clever writing that would change Pendergast into her “nameless silver haired protector” and a focus on Constance, she would be fair game for an AMC or HBO series. (Of course, with the high production value and caliber of Daredevil and the noir-styled Jessica Jones, I’d love to see a Netflix series featuring Constance.)
Story: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Dynamics: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Gothic Fit: 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
Final Score (not an average): 5.0 Moons (out of 5)
This holiday season we thought we’d list some of the things that’ve made it on the staff’s gift list and share some of the reasons we think they’re awesome enough to give to others (or to yourself). Some of these we’ve reviewed, some we haven’t, and some we’ll be reviewing soon, but didn’t want you to miss out on them beforehand!
This year has been a pretty amazing year for books and here are a few that really impressed us.
by Claudia Gray
The consensus here at DGM is that Lost Stars is the BEST Star Wars book written of the new Canon books. Its incredible story brings Star Wars alive in a way that even the movies haven’t been able to do. The fact that Claudia is going to be releasing a new series of Star Wars books next year can only be seen as a wonderful thing. You can read the 5/5 Moons DGM review of Lost Stars here .
by Preston & Child
The most gothic modern detective, A.X.L. Pendergast, is back with his most gothic assistant, Constance, to investigate a simple theft—which escalates into murder, covens, cover ups, and monsters! A delightful continuance from last year’s Blue Labyrinth , Crimson Shore will be receiving a 5/5 Moons in our upcoming review!
The Art of Asking
by Amanda Palmer (Audio Version)
Although this one came out last year, it deserves to be mentioned here, because it’s such an incredible book. Be sure to get it on audio book, because the poetry of the book as it’s read by its authoress, as well as the music she weaves in, makes it unbelievably spectacular. (If you’d like to read a review of this great book that our friends at MicroFilmmaker did, check it out here. )
Mad Max: Fury Road
Hailed as the “most metal movie ever created,” Fury Road is also one of the most post-apoc gothic movies made in years! This movie, with a super strong presence in Furiosa as counterpoint to Mad Max, gets your adrenaline flowing and blows your mind. I saw it three times in theaters and definitely have it on my Christmas list!
Star Wars IV, Star Wars V , Star Wars VI – BluRay Steel Books
While you won’t get any special features (other than a few commentary tracks) and you can’t choose to watch a remastered version of the original Un-Special editions, the BluRay steel books are the cleanest and crispest way you can watch and listen to the classic trilogy. Remastered and with incredible audio, these are a must own.
You’ve seen that we’ve featured Martial Arts: The Card Game as one we’ve recommended. While the core instructions are imperfect, we will be releasing some DGM revised instructions with our review that has made playing this game a true delight. In the meantime, pick it up for you and a loved one and get ready to smack each other into the next galaxy! It will be receiving a 4/5 moons in its upcoming review (or 5/5 moons with the revised instructions)!
This card game from Paizo, the creators of Pathfinder Roleplaying game, is an unexpected combination of random chance, card gaming prowess, and gaming social interaction. It’s got quite a bit of replayability and should fill the needs of folks who want a very challenging game to sink their teeth into. (Just be prepared for lots of deckbuilding!) This will be receiving a 4/5 moons in its upcoming review.
Designed by DGM editor JT Hanke, this is a group game that combines the feel of Magic with science and wild animals that you can play with kids as young as 5. I personally have found it a great group game but, as I might be biased, go ahead and read this review from the geeky parenting site, Adventures with my Geeklings to get a fair and balanced perspective on it.
While the holidays can be less pleasant for folks in our dark artistic community, hopefully some fun new games, books, and movies can help make things more pleasant!
Type: Podcasts – MtG Design Retrospective
Slogan: “As much as I love talking Magic, what I love even more, is making Magic!”
Description: During his daily commute, lead designer of Magic the Gathering, Mark Rosewater, tells stories of his nearly twenty years designing cards for the hugely successful Collectible Card Game that started it all!
How’d We Run Across Him: “I and a number of our writers started playing Magic after Spellslingers blew up and we were curious to know more about the guy behind the curtain. MaRo’s hilarious anecdotes about creation and design will give you a greater appreciation for the game of Magic.” [J.T. Hanke]
Type: Stuff – Strategy/Card Games
Description: Taking various types of fighting styles, from Boxing to Mua Thai to Karate, this game allows you to use your wits to attack each other, using strategic blocks, checks, and reversals to turn the odds in your favor.
How’d We Run Across This: “I had a chance to play this at Gen Con before interviewing the creator, Alex Lim. As a black belt in karate myself, I was really impressed with how well the game used real fighting without ever getting bogged down. One of the most surprisingly impressive (and FUN) games I previewed at that Gen Con.” [J.T. Hanke]
Type: Podcasts – Gaming News & Reviews
Slogan: “Fighting the zombie apocalypse, one review at a time!”
Description: Reporting on, interviewing, and reviewing all things related to nerdy culture from RPGs to board games to books.
How’d We Meet Them: “Worked together with Matthew interviewing Jeremy Crawford (of D&D) at GenCon 2015. Really awesome folks over here!” [J.T. Hanke]
Type: Videos – CCG/Trading Card Gaming Series
Slogan: “May you go forth. May you fight the good fight and defeat all the Blues. And of course, may you draw well.“
Description: Designated as “Sean Plotts plays Magic the Gathering with his nerd friends,” Spellslingers is the most professionally done show surrounding Magic the Gathering currently in production. It easily introduces new players to the game, while more experienced players will find some of the advanced deck gameplay intriguing.
How’d We Run Across This: “The folks at Geek & Sundry were responsible for the incredible MORPG comedy show, ‘The Guild,’ which led us to discover this show a couple years back. It actually got me into MtG and I’ve never missed an episode.” [J.T. Hanke]
Type: Sites/Blogs – Humor & Etiquette
Slogan: “An Essential Guide to Goths & The People Who Love Them”
Description: Although there is a wonderful book that this site revolves around, the amount of helpful letters and articles Jillian provides is why we’ve included it in our recommended sites list (rather than Recommended Stuff list)!
How’d We Run Across Her: “When we started DarkestGoth, many of our mentors in the Gothic community couldn’t stop raving about Jillian and this site. We’ve found it to be a wonderful resource, as well, so we wanted to share it here!” [J.T. Hanke]