An astonishing urban fantasy with a lot of heart.
A SPFBO4 semi-finalist, it caught my attention and I had to give it a go. The book starts out like some average urban fantasies and then quickly turns into a complex nightmare on earth. Lincoln Nebraska to be precise. Gabriel Delling is an astounding main character, a simple conman who is actually anything but simple. This is a smart, exciting story that fools you into thinking it’s mundane and then demons, sorcerers, godlings, and all manner of terrifying creatures turn all those notions inside out and does it with a good dose of snarky humor.
He sagged in defeat. “Isn’t there a school for this kind of thing?” She cocked an eyebrow. “Why would there be? Umbras start off already knowing how to use our gifts. Sorcerers are… Well, I’m not sure where they come from. But as far as I know you’re the only weirdo with stolen power he doesn’t know what to do with. Not exactly worth building a Hogwarts for.”
Gabe finds a simple job lands him in deep within a massive battle for the fate of the balance of the universe. Not trusting anyone leads him to a place where he finds his own power. His utter naivety of what he is up against is terrifying and humorous at the same time. He has only a couple of days to figure it all out, or the power he has unwittingly acquired may turn him into a monster and take his humanity entirely while unleashing a bloodthirsty god upon humanity. It is caught in his psyche and shutting this god down is going to take a massive con on a level Gabe never dreamed of.
My favorite part of this tale, is the tale told in the chapter headings. Excerpts from a book Gabe was working on as another con, but it becomes much more as well. Aptly named CONscience, it shows the readers much of the mindset and observations of a conman, while taking us alongside through the process that changes him completely. Excellent bits of a book within a book.
“Few things in this world scare me anymore. When you learn to see into people’s hearts, there aren’t that many monsters left in the dark.”-Excerpt from Chapter Seven, CONscience
This is a fast paced narrative, and the action is nearly non-stop. It doesn’t detract from the fact that this is very much a character driven story with complicated insights into the heart. It’s got an ending that I didn’t see coming, and lets us know that this is far from over. The language is rough, as it should be, and the danger as dark as they come.
Highly recommended for fans of books by Craig Schaefer, Kevin Hearne, and Chuck Wendig. Hero Forged is a wild ride and I’m heading straight into book 2 of this duology, Fate Lashed (Ethereal Earth Book 2)
About the book:
Gabriel Delling might call himself a professional con artist, but when walking superstitions start trying to bite his face off, his charm is shockingly unhelpful. It turns out living nightmares almost never appreciate a good joke. Together with a succubus who insists on constantly saving his life, Gabe desperately tries to survive a new reality that suddenly features demons, legends, and a giant locust named Dale—all of whom pretty much hate his guts.
And when an ancient horror comes hunting for the spirit locked in his head, Gabe finds himself faced with the excruciating choice between death…or becoming some kind of freaking hero.
Hero Forged is the first book in the new series, Ethereal Earth, a modern fantasy adventure that challenges the natures of myth, humanity, and what it means to be the good guy.
- Print Length: 348 pages
- Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
- Publication Date: June 2, 2018
- Sold by: Amazon Digital Services LLC
- Language: English
- ASIN: B07CZ51BXD