Hold The Dark
by Frank Tuttle, fantasy (2009)
Samhain Publishing, $4.50, ISBN 978-1-60504-494-

Markhat is back in Hold The Dark, a fantasy series that began with Dead Man's Rain. Read my review of the first book if you are new to the whole thing and would like some background information on the setting.

This time around, Markhat is hired by a couple of wealthy farm owners to locate their sister, a missing seamstress in the local posh brothel called Velvet. Mind you, she's really a seamstress, as her brothers would insist. Markhat's investigations don't just lead him to a possible beau, but also a creepy murder mystery involving several missing prostitutes and what looks like a case of vampires behaving badly.

This is a longer story than the previous books by this author, so to my delight I get to know a little bit more about the setting and the culture of the people in this fantasy world. The author also pays tribute to popular culture here and there, although to be honest, encountering a character named Evis Prestley makes me groan at how cheesy that is instead of grinning.

Markhat is his adorable cynical and cool-as-cat self here, but this story is also considerably darker than previous stories as it deals with themes like revenge. There are plenty of scenes that depict violence and even gore in a nonchalant although not too explicit manner. I have no problems with such themes, but some readers may be caught off-guard by them, so be warned, folks.

As usual, the pacing is great, the build-up is good, and there are some exciting stuff here. On the down side, I also feel that the author has copped out by allowing a pivotal character to come back to life. The last two chapters also drag considerably compared to the tighter-paced chapters that came before them. Nonetheless, these are minor problems that don't get in the way of my enjoyment of this story. Hold The Dark is great fun from start to finish.

Rating: 89

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