Found this review on Tumblr recently and definitely wanted to share it. It comes courtesy of Noir Journal:
THE ROOK VOL. 1 is an exquisite piece of post-modern pulp lit. Harkening back to such heroes as The Spider and The Shadow, The Rook fits right in that groove. Author Barry Reese even name drops them, and others, suggesting that they and The Rook inhabits the same universe. The Rook sports a domino mask of a bird design (a rook, of course) and a trenchcoat and hat, drives a modified car with a silent engine and ungodly gas mileage and is armed with “specially modified” pistols. THE ROOK collects a sequential series of short tales in which events in one affect matters in the next. The bulk of the action is set in the 30s, though a flash forward to the 2000s in one story offers a curious follow-up to a particularly nasty confrontation with Nyarlathotep in human form. The fact that Reese can so nimbly mingle his pulp genres – nihilistic cosmic sci-fi horror a la Lovecraft and pulp action by way of masked vigilantes – says a lot for his writing abilities. These stories function on the level of action and horror with a decidedly comic book flavoring permeating it all. Reese’s writing is highly readable with easy-to-follow action, succinct but vivid descriptions, standout plotting, strong characters, snappy dialogue and all the other goods necessary to make pulp like this not just pulp but damn GOOD pulp. This ode to the glory days of rough pages and disreputable genre fiction (now embraced as a legitimate literary field) is one of the best such neo-pulp books I’ve had the sheer pleasure to read. Reese is a consummate storyteller who knows how to make all these cogs tick in a well-oiled machine that thrills, scares and excites. Colorful heroes and villains and equally colorful retro-future-tech fill the spaces of these terrific tales. He summons numerous elements of classic pulp, infusing his own work with it but rather than just cobbling together something “new” outta old bricks, Reese revitalizes these components and makes a work of literary art all his own. Reese is a strong author, the sort whose name alone makes you reach for the book on the shelf. I know I’ll be seeking out further adventures of THE ROOK, as well as other Reese characters. Reese certainly seems to be a gold standard for the neo-pulp world. And as though his stories weren’t enough to cause readers to lunge for a volume of ROOK tales, the book design itself is so gorgeous I can’t resist mentioning it even though it’s not the sort of thing I typically discuss. The cover art and design is out of this world and the handful of illustrations gracing the book are beautiful black-and-white renditions of a few major characters in Reese’s yarns. Pulp fans, I strongly encourage you to seek out Reese’s work. He’s the real McCoy.
Thanks for the extremely kind words! I like to think that some of the later Rook volumes (particularly 3 & 4) are even stronger and hopefully you’ll agree once you get there. And, of course, Gravedigger and Lazarus Gray are ones that I’m proud of, as well.
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