Friday, September 23, 2022

Thoughts on Sweet Vendetta Blues

Hey'a, all! Hopefully y'all have been keeping up with the Silmaril Award ceremonies this week — we've had some great ones. And hopefully y'all also caught yesterday's very exciting announcement. (If not, make sure you go back and check it out!) Today's post, however, has nothing to do with either of these things. Instead, we're joining the release festivities for Hazel West's new future-noir thriller, Sweet Vendetta Blues. While the official release party isn't until next week, I'm getting in a little early so I can post a review before the Silmaril Awards Ceremony next week (though I will have a post during the official tour on Dreams and Dragons). So, without further ado, let's get on with the Thoughts!

Thoughts on Sweet Vendetta Blues

  1. This is a story about brotherhood. And family in general, particularly found family. But the relationship between Jack and Sebastian is really the cornerstone of this book. Their bond is fractured by time, grief, mistrust . . . and, you know, a  murder attempt . . . but even with all that, they're still brothers, and I enjoyed watching them work to mend things between them.
  2. This story tackles some pretty dark topics, but it does it well. And by dark topics, I mean: this book involves the main characters trying to take down a human trafficking network, and occasionally people get rather brutally murdered over it. In addition, both brothers carry scars from their past and have ended up in some dark places because of it — namely, there's a struggle with alcohol addiction and reference to an attempted suicide. As I said, the author handles the topics well, with the gravity they need, and she keeps most anything that would be scarring off the page, but it is a presence in the book that you can't miss.
  3. It's technically future-fiction, but it's more five-minutes-in-the-future than proper sci-fi. I'll be honest, I kind of missed the fact that this is technically set two-hundred-odd years in the future until I got to Chapter 1 and was hit with "2227" and a prosthetic arm that's more robotic than not. (On a side note: the main POV character, Jack, lost his arm in the past, and although this world's prosthetics are a lot more advanced than our world's, Jack having to deal with that — with the pain, with the fact that it can break and need fixed, and so on — added some interesting tension.) But it was interesting to visit a world that's fairly recognizable, while still shifted significantly from the familiar.
  4. It's an odd mix of road trip and thriller. Jack and Sebastian spend most of the book traveling cross-country, tracking down one lead after another and periodically getting attacked by the goons of the man whose identity they're trying to find. So while there are aspects very in line with something noir or thriller, it's not purely that, and I found that interesting.
  5. I do think that the writing style could be more polished. I did get an early ARC, so take that comment with a grain of salt, but . . . I've read some of this author's previous books, and I suspect the final version wasn't all that different from what I read. It wasn't difficult to read, but I do think that some extra work on the voice could've elevated this book from good to great.

Does Sweet Vendetta Blues sound like the kind of book you'd enjoy? If so, make sure to preorder it on Amazon (for ebook) or from the author (for hardcover), and keep an eye out next week for the release celebrations. And, of course, let me know in the comments whether or not you're excited for this new read.
Thanks for reading!


I'd love to hear your thoughts! But remember: it pays to be polite to dragons.