Black Earth Rises is the third book in a series by Denton Salle, but it stands very well on its own since I haven’t read the first two novels.
Denton asked me to review his book and was aware of recent difficulties I’ve had reviewing books by people I know. He assured me that he’d understand me being forthright and fair about my review, and I have been.
For being a supernatural urban legend thriller, the story is pretty standard, up to a point. Two college buddies from very different backgrounds, the women in their lives, coming up against frat jerks, all seems normal.
Then the frat jerks turn out to be werewolves and there is a sinister school being operated by an evil sorceress in the bowels of a Texas university near Dallas. But this school also has an old graveyard haunted with the unexpected, both evil and good.
A good Catholic boy named Jim gets pulled by his frat friend Mike into an Orthodox religious group (most of which are Mike’s family) of an ancient order sworn to protect our existence from occult dangers. They live an uneasy peace with the “Otherworld” by a compact signed untold centuries ago…but not all of the Otherworld creatures are obedient, or perhaps they just didn’t sign on the dotted line.
The structure and writing style seem almost suited for a YA audience. There are a few suggestive bits but nothing too “spicy.” The story is basic and linear. Good and evil are clearly defined. The women are all beautiful and talented (and most of them are rather scantily dressed, including the villainess), and the men chivalrous and for the most part noble (although one can turn into a bear). This is the sort of characterization you’d find in stories written in the 1960s or earlier, so it does have a “retro” or perhaps “superversive” feel. Oh, and Denton even managed to sneak in a wee song about Panda Bears (sort of an “in” joke)
I must admit not being up on my Slavic mythology and particularly how it would fit into a modern Texas background, but it works reasonably well. While it has its dark moments, it’s not oppressively so, thus I’d qualify it as fun reading if you like old school adventures filled with spells, shape shifters, and good, old fashioned guns and explosions. Well, it is Texas, after all.
Oh, my Amazon review (four stars) is HERE.