(cover artwork by Richard Anderson, design by Lisa Marie Pompilio)
If Kings of the Wyld (reviewed here) was the ‘Blues Brothers’ of epic fantasy, then Bloody Rose is the ‘Almost Famous’. Except in this version of events, the young fan protagonist doesn’t just find herself on her journey to chronicle her heroes, she finds a whole mess of monsters as well.
Although Rose is the titular character this time around, she is once again the blazing star around which the voice of the story orbits. Tam Hashford, daughter of heroes, stifled by a protective father and haunted by a mother she lost too young, is the narrator of this tale. Although narrator is far too distant a word, really. Perhaps it is more accurate to say that she is the heart of the tale as her compassion and her bravery does not allow her to stand at a distance when others’ lives are at stake.
Written in the same rock and roll style that Eames established in Kings of the Wyld, Bloody Rose dives neck deep into a world where mercenaries are rock stars touring stadiums and sparking fashion trends and drinking and partying and generally living short but gaudy lives. A visit from the right mercenary band can make or break a small town, depending on the quality of monsters on hand in their arenas. Monsters are big business. Trapped, bred and killed for sport they’re little more than exotic curiosities to small town folk like Tam but once she gets out into the world a little, her definition of ‘monster’ is challenged along with her definition of other previously well-understood words such as ‘glory’ and ‘family’. In its soul, I think Bloody Rose is a story about the shadows of our parents and how getting out from under them isn’t always the best way to be yourself.
If you liked Kings of the Wyld, then you will love Bloody Rose. In fact, I’d be surprised if you haven’t already preordered it. If you haven’t read either, and are a fan of honest, messy, gritty, sometimes silly fantasy or perhaps you just always wished you could have been a roadie for Black Sabbath, then you need to get stuck into these books asap. Eames is the current reigning champion of joyful, human, madcap messy fantasy that hits all the right notes.