TOP PICK! Review of HERO FORGED by Josh EriksonSee full issue for 2018 09-17
The titular hero of Hero Forged, fast-talking con artist Gabrielle Delling, fancies himself among the best in his trade. Of course, the real test of any hero-tale comes when confronted with their kryptonite. In Gabe’s case, that’s his unlikely bond to his father–his one-time mentor who also left him to fend for himself at a young age. Years later, an accident reunites them, and leaves his father in need of constant care. But quality care costs money. Despite reservations, Gabe agrees to participate in a vaguely described “easy” job with a big payoff. He would have done well to listen to his suspicions.
The only ‘goods’ Gabe gets from the job are a diabolical god from another dimension stuck in his brain, a succubus guardian, and the god’s evil wife coming after him to rescue her man, even (or especially) if it means ripping Gabe’s head off to get him. Gabe’s a great con-man in part because of his quick ability to size up the situation from every angle and play the best odds. In this caper, though, the odds are never in his favor, and he’s continuously cornered into choosing the lesser of only bad options, sinking him incrementally deeper into trouble and more deeply tied to the Ethereal dimension with every decision.
Excerpts from a book Gabe is writing (CONscience) head each chapter and give a glimpse into Gabe’s formative years, conning philosophy, and hint at some aspect of the chapter. Since Hero Forged is Book 1 in the Ethereal Earth series, we should learn more about Gabe’s life, his foray into writing, and what comes of CONscience in subsequent books.
For those who’d shy away from an urban fantasy tale, don’t! Hero Forged has a bit of something for everyone–action, adventure, comedy, tragedy, gods, and monsters, and even some romance. It’s impossible not to be utterly charmed by the smart and witty Gabe, and also impossible not to root for Heather, formerly an acquaintance con who he had a crush on and who is now his kick-ass protector. Their banter, and all of Gabe’s mental calisthenics to try and manipulate situations to his benefit–or at least not to his fatal detriment–lead to some laugh-out-loud scenes that make this a highly entertaining read filled with surprising twists and turns.
Anyone who likes magical realism in the vein of Neil Gaiman or Christopher Moore will love this well-written, fast-paced adventure loaded with humor. Hero Forged has a little bit of something for everyone–action, adventure, comedy, tragedy, gods, and monsters, and even some romance. Readers looking for a neatly categorized tale with a straightforward, predictable plot might find this fast-paced, imaginative adventure uncomfortable, but the writing and fun plot could even pull them in.