cover image Sons of Devils: Arising #1

Sons of Devils: Arising #1

Alex Beecroft. Riptide, $16.99 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-62649-555-5

Beecroft’s indifferent alternate historical fantasy, set in the mid-18th century, stars the unprepossessing Frank Carew, a passive and reactive English linguist and minor magician, who’s fleeing the death penalty for homosexuality. In the company of two fellow scientists and some hired hands, he searches for an Atlantean relic in Vlad Dracula’s territory of Romania. When their company is brutally attacked, sole survivor Frank sustains bullet wounds and a head injury that affects his memory. Frank’s path crosses that of defiant and clever young Roma woman Mirela Badi, left as a sacrifice for a mysterious monstrosity, before he is taken in by local aristocrat Radu Va˘ca˘rescu. Frank recuperates under the very close watch of Radu and his family, learning the lore of the terrible strigoi and experiencing a burgeoning attraction to Radu. The story shifts to the point of view of Istanbul magician Zayd Ibn Rahman with whiplash-inducing abruptness, with only the loosest of narrative connections, and an inconclusive ending that serves mostly as an introduction to a second volume that most readers will have little inclination to seek out. (Mar.)