cover image The Shoemaker’s Magician

The Shoemaker’s Magician

Cynthia Pelayo. Polis, $27.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-957957-10-4

The haunting if overbearing second paranormal mystery in Pelayo’s Chicago Saga series (after Children of Chicago) pays homage to a slew of classic horror films. As a child, Polly used horror movies to escape the real horror of life with an abusive mother—and they gave her and her brother an idea. Desperate to escape their home life, the pair attempted magick to summon demons and ask for what they desired most. Their parents died shortly after, making Polly believe that their magick really worked. Now Polly has a successful career as a YouTuber discussing all things horror and a happy domestic life with Chicago homicide detective Bass and their young son, Bela. Bela’s origins, however, have a dark backstory: after six miscarriages, a desperate Polly invoked all 72 demons to grant her wish of having a child. When Bass starts investigating a series of murders involving demon sigils and horror movies, Polly fears the ritual she did to get Bela may be responsible. Pelayo loads the text with references to cult films and asides about their production histories that will delight horror buffs but may overwhelm more casual fans. The details about Chicago are similarly exhaustive. This is not for the faint of heart. Agent: Lane Heymont, Tobias Agency. (Mar.)