The Adventures of Gravedigger — One Bloody Good Adventure (According to Critics!)

20130403-081630.jpgThe Adventures of Gravedigger Volume One has only been out for a short time but it’s garnered some rave reviews so far. Over on Goodreads, it currently has three ratings — two of the 5-star variety and one of 4-stars. There have also been two reviews of the book on that site. Let’s see what they’ve said:

Jose (who gave it 4 stars) wrote – An outstanding book with as much creativity of its own as it has nods to pulp as a genre. I’ve read some of Barry Reese’s other books and it was a pleasant surprise to see some characters from those books show up here. I really liked this and want to see where this goes…particularly with the impending arrival of “The Opposite”

Grant Gardiner (who gave it 5 stars) wrote – 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 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.

Wrap Up.

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.

Meanwhile, over on Amazon the book has two 5-star ratings and one 4-star. The three reviews posted there have all been very positive!

Darkendale wrote – I bought this book the instant it came out, and Barry Reese did not disappoint me! I was also pleased to see that The Necronomicon plays a part in this story, a suggestion I had given Barry Reese in another of my reviews. Thanks, Barry! This new character is different from Reese’s usual pulp character. She is supernaturally empowered, she does not shrink from killing, and she has agents instead of associates, people who do recon work for her. When the time comes for action, Gravedigger is on her own. Her agents would simply get in the way during one of her battles, their expertise lies elsewhere. Gravedigger faces her own unique set of foes, those with something not quite normal about them, a touch of otherworldly power that requires an avenger powered by supernatural forces. We open with a man wielding dark magic from the Necronomicon, pass on to a member of a strange cult called The Sons or Daughters of Malfeasance (whose rather peculiar talent I won’t reveal) who wants to sacrifice family to parlay with an evil headless legend, and finally to a man called Charon, who believes he can control this legendary demon to wage war on the heroes and heroines of Sovereign City. Each is dangerous in their own way, and Charity Grace, the Gravedigger is taxed to her limit in her battles. In this volume, Reese again pays tribute to those who have gone before. Gibson Street. Robeson Avenue. As in Walter Gibson, creator of the Shadow and Kenneth Robeson, house name for Lester Dent, creator of Doc Savage. His other characters, The Rook and Lazarus Gray make their guest appearances, each in their own unique way and with their own reactions to Gravedigger’s war on evil. I highly recommend this book, and others by Barry Reese. I look forward to Barry’s next released project.

Kevin Rodgers said – “The Adventures of Gravedigger, Volume 1” by Barry Reese is a fast-paced, stand-alone masterpiece! It features other characters created by Mr. Reese, such as Lazarus Gray and The Rook (Max Davies), but readers can enjoy “Gravedigger” without reading the books which feature those Pulp icons. “Gravedigger” begins with a bang…literally…with a violent scene in a battleground, which paves the way for Gravedigger’s sparring matches with the Headless Horseman later in the novel. Gravedigger (aka Charity Grace) must redeem her soul within three years to achieve spiritual enlightenment or her soul will face condemnation. She wreaks havoc on the criminals and sleazebags of Sovereign City with brutal delight. (At times, I noticed similarities between “Gravedigger” and one of Reese’s previous works, an ultra-violent novel called “Rabbit Heart”.) Reese hooked me with the stunning prologue, kept me turning the pages with the quick pacing of the dynamic chapters, and left me eager for “The Adventures of Gravedigger, Part 2” after I finished the book. The book is a must-have for anyone who enjoys supernatural horror mixed with acts of bloody retribution and stunning action sequences. Pick up a copy of “Gravedigger, Volume One” today…you won’t be disappointed!

And last but not least, Jose Rivera (who may, in fact, be the same Jose as the one from Goodreads) wrote –I ‘ve read some of Barry Reese’s previous work in Lazarus Gray and while I eagerly await the third volume of that, I was surprised to find The Adventures of Gravedigger. Another hero in Sovereign City but this one is such a stark contrast from Lazarus Gray or The Rook. Gravedigger operates under the premise that The Voice chooses you to be the next Gravedigger: you have three years to vanquish evil and do good; if you do well, you live. If you don’t…you die. Talk about pressure! In the three stories, two of Reese’s characters show up and are somewhat important to the plot. Some might say that’s just pushing more popular characters into the story while Gravedigger takes a back seat, but I disagree. Not only does Charity and her team hold their own, but it shows how interconnected this New Pulp universe is. Each story flows well into the next and I am VERY eager to read the next book. This is definitely a buy!

If you haven’t taken a chance on this series yet, do so — I’m about 1/3 of the way through writing the sequel and it will be coming your way before you know it!

Our art today is one of the interior pieces by Will Meugniot.

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