4 out of 4 stars
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In a most unfortunate jousting accident, Boone Daniels ends up fatally hitting Flynn, his best friend. At Flynn’s request, Boone agrees to fill in for him at their band’s latest gig. However, upon approaching Flynn’s contact, a Professor Stone, Boone finds him dead. He escapes from the mayhem along with Sapphire, Stone’s secretary, with the killers in hot pursuit. The duo gets entangled in an age-old feud between two secret societies, both intent on retrieving three invaluable compositions of Niccolo Paganini. Played together, the music has the power to awaken the Devil. Can Boone and Sapphire thwart the diabolical plans and protect New York City? J. W. Zarek's epic fantasy, The Devil Pulls the Strings, can answer these questions.
The novel boasted a storyline that would keep the readers enthralled the entire time. With an electrifying plot, bite-sized chapters, and swift pace, the book offered an exhilarating journey. As Boone and Sapphire jumped from one adventure to another, racing against time, they also transported the readers alongside them. Zarek invented special New York taxis that could jump through portals and take the passengers to their destinations within seconds. The book seemed to perform a similar role for its readers.
Zarek incorporated a legion of folkloric beings, including Baba Yaga, wendigos, domovois, vampires, and cockatrices. While keeping track of so many characters seemed a daunting task initially, I kept going with the flow until everything made sense. As an ardent fan of the fantasy genre, this book was an absolute treat for me. Boone’s quest took him back and forth in time, another aspect that I found intriguing. The glossary at the end listed all the characters and explained the historical and mythological references, thus eradicating any doubts.
As the protagonist, Boone’s character strength was admirable. Even when faced with hazardous adventures, horrible torture, or tempting prospects, he remained a man of his word. He tried to keep his promise to Flynn at any cost. At the same time, his impeccable sense of humor kept the story alive. As with many epic fantasies, there was an inherent good versus evil trope that Zarek executed innovatively. While reading, I had a nagging sensation that something was not quite right. Yet, when a shocking betrayal presented itself in the form of a twist, it rattled me to my core. Based on the experience, I am looking forward to reading more of Zarek’s works.
I found absolutely nothing to dislike in this book. From a technical standpoint, I found only two errors, indicating thorough and professional editing. Consequently, I rate it a well-deserved 4 out of 4 stars. Any reader who appreciates fantasy and folklore will be delighted to participate in the wild ride this book provides. There were a few instances of violence, but nothing that might deter the readers. This book will prove engaging to young adults and adults alike.
The Devil Pulls the Strings
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