A reader named Grant Gardiner has posted a review of The Adventures of Gravedigger on Goodreads. Here’s what he had to say:
Gravedigger is another addition to Barry Reese’s growing stable of old-school nostalgia pulp creations and, as usual, doesn’t disappoint. The Gravedigger leans more to the horror side of the nostalgia-driven dark avenger theme with a bit more gore and darkness than before, while bringing the Sovereign City world closer together with several crossovers and some more historical background to the city. All while providing a read that won’t trouble first time readers to the Sovereign City world. It’s good quality epulp that’s a definite read for those who like their vigilantes up to their neck in the supernatural and don’t mind some gibbs and gore along the way.
Pacing and Action: 4 stars.
The pacing is good with three short stories that introduce us to this new character and plunge us into the supernatural shenanigans that plague Sovereign City. There’s plenty of action, crazy situations and cross-city conspiracy that ensures the book earns its pulpy status. Not to mention a good helping of supernatural bad guys that need to be dispatched by our new hero. It’s all well detailed and fast.
About the only problem with the pacing – and I’m using the word ‘problem’ loosely – is that the book does tend to timeline jump a bit in order to fill in the historical backstory. By any other standard the pace is fine but on a pulpy scale it does tend to haul things up and complicate the read more than usual. It won’t spoil the read but it is less than pulp-ideal.
Pulp Concept: 5 stars.
Very pulpy. If you’ve ever read an old-school dark avenger vigilante story then this is familiar territory but with a few very unique twists. It creates a character with an interesting quandary and plenty of momentum for further adventures, all steeped in the supernatural and dark. The only shortcoming might be for people who like their reading gore free as the book does have a touch of the exploitation film about it – not in a big way but it’s there – and if so you may want to knock a star off the final score, but for everyone else this is as pulpy as you like.
Character Development: 4 stars.
The protagonists’ dilemma and motivation is written well and there’s plenty of supporting characters with their own personalities and motivations. There’s an interesting group dynamic with some really interesting cross-overs with already established characters for readers familiar with them. As pulp goes these are very well rounded characters with a proper internal life that should draw the reader in and get them invested in the story if you’re in it for the action and nothing but.
However, the supporting cast can fade into two-dimensional characters that are more ideas than full blown people. Their behaviour can seem a little inconsequential at times, the risks they take having no ramifications or consequences to the point that they’re untouchable and above what happens to them. It can also cheapen the Gravedigger’s abilities when supporting characters every now and then manifest their own amazing abilities (I’m talking about a certain briefcase throwing incident) and are relatively unfazed by anything around them (they’re awfully chipper and loyal considering some of the things they see). But, considering this is the first story it may be all about establishing a status quo rather than delving into their own faults and insecurities.
Production: 5 stars.
A gorgeous cover and good price make this 5 stars even though there were a few editorial misses in the third book. Unfortunately the cover hasn’t been posted here on GoodReads (I read the ebook version as well, but that’s not up in time for this review either) but in colour it really is amazing, perfectly capturing the mood and pulpy ‘tude the book has. Very nice.
Series Potential: 5 stars.
Definitive. There’s plenty more action to be had following The Gravedigger and all the pieces are in place for further adventures. Sovereign City is also becoming a more textured and detailed location for all things pulpy so it would be a crying shame if there weren’t more stories in the pipeline.
Another quality piece of writing from a trustworthy name in nostalgia pulp. Even though it has its faults I’m still giving this 5 stars as it is as good as anything else out there in epulp land, nostalgia or otherwise, with plenty more story to check out if you want to read more. For those who like their pulp reading gore free you may want to knock a star off but for those who like their vigilantes embroiled in the supernatural this is a must read. I definitely recommend.
Thank you, Grant! I’m really glad that you enjoyed it so much. There’s definitely more Gravedigger to come and I hope you’ll be along for the ride.