THE DEVIL PULLS THE STRINGS, described as The Librarians meet The Magicians is a 76,000-word epic fantasy adventure with series potential, set in modern-day Wentzville, MO, New York City, and 1813 Genoa, Italy, weaves bromance, Slavic mythology, secret societies, Paganini’s music and time travel.
Boone Daniels (22) has problems, debilitating panic attack, gut-wrenching guilt, a wendigo haunting him since age six, and now he almost killed his best friend in a joust. But when he fills in for his injured friend at a New York gig, he goes to meet the gig’s contact at his NYC brownstone and a body falls from the brownstone balcony and the place explodes with gun fire.
Boone barely escapes but uncovers a sinister plot to perform a rare Paganini piece that summons the Devil to trap Baba Yaga and destroy modern-day New York City. Then finds himself on a race through time to capture the cursed melody.
Along the way, a Romani immortal, steampunk vampires and Baba Yaga set the stage for war, and Boone shall have to risk death for redemption. Because all Boone wants is to keep a promise to a friend. The same friend, he almost killed last Sunday during a joust.
Can a small-town Missouri musician outplay the supernatural and save NYC’s soul? The Devil Pulls the Strings is the pulse-pounding first tale in the Archivist series.
If you like when tortured heroes, epic battles, time travel, twisted history and secret societies collide, then you’ll love J. W. Zarek’s spectacular page-turner.
Al the Brit 5.0 out of 5 stars Folklore/mythology, good versus evil
Reviewed in the United States on September 17, 2021
If you enjoy folklore/mythology inter-twined with present day, and good versus evil, you will love The Devil Pulls the Strings. This book explores many interesting subjects that leave the reader wanting to know and learn more. The events unravel within a short time frame, yet extend over centuries, being carefully inter-woven into the story. The book is a fast read, which will leave you wanting more, but don’t fear, it left me with the impression more books will follow
Don S and TeamGolfwell 5.0 out of 5 stars I enjoyed this book very much.
Reviewed in the United States on September 16, 2021
""I enjoyed reading ""The Devil Pulls the Strings” by J. W. Zarek, who in my opinion is an exceptionally creative writer and has written a very enjoyable five-act epic fantasy adventure that is entertaining to read. I felt the author was highly innovative in writing this imaginative, and entertaining tale.
I was drawn in by the first few chapters of this adventure and the professional style of writing by this author. Here is a brief excerpt to show you what I mean,
“Twenty-two hours after riding on a cramped Greyhound with no A/C and the backed-up bathroom smell, I’ve arrived outside the Port Authority Bus Terminal in New York City, thankful I only had one panic attack and one weird dream. I rub the knot swirling in my stomach. The urge to turn around and go home hits me hard.
“Inside the terminal, tourists chatter, beggars beg, buses brake. Everyone is on a cell phone. I wish I’d bought one before the trip. There wasn’t a need for one in Wentzville. Not allowed at Ren faires. I use a walkie-talkie for my handyman job at the trailer park. And who would I call here? I don’t know anyone in New York City, except the contact Flynn gave me, a Professor Stone.
I inhale, and whiskey-flavored words barrel over my shoulder…”
I liked the way the story continued to take me on an amazing adventure filled with humorous, clever, surprising, and ingeniously unexpected events. I also liked the organization of the story and the excellent Glossary provided by the writer.
As I read, I thought of the often-quoted words of Albert Einstein who said, “Creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.” As the story expanded, I liked the imagination of this remarkably interesting writer, the characters, exceptional events, and much more.
I also liked the way the author writes interesting and fast-moving dialogue. For example, here is just one brief excerpt,
“That’s quite the setup you have,” I say.
“Are there one or two more sheets of music to collect?” Sapphire asks.
“One. The music Professor Stone had,” Wickhamby says.
“But there were two more empty cases behind the wall,” I say.
“You are perceptive. Three cases will house the music, the fourth case is for the blank parchment and blue rose ink once it’s in our possession. All the necessary components for the ritual.”
“What’s the blue rose ink used for?” Sapphire asks.
“It’s the catalyst that triggers the music and draws the Devil’s attention.
But the blue rose doesn’t grow in nature, or on this earthly plane of existence, but it does reappear once every one hundred years.”
“But you have the ink in your hand,” I say.
Wickhamby holds the vial up and shakes his head. “This is just a poor substitute solution able to glow. A result of ink scraped for many years, off many sheets of music. It holds neither the power nor the strength we require for the ritual.”
In my opinion, the story is unique, ingenious, thrilling, distinctive, and just plain fun to read. I also felt the story was all told at a good pace that kept my interest. I also enjoyed the unexpected and warmly written ending very much.
Finally, I found at the end of the story I wanted to read more from this exceptional and entertaining writer. All in all, I think it is very well done and highly recommended!
It was my pleasure to receive a free copy of this book but that does not in any way affect my opinions in this review of this exceptional book.""
Jazzy112 5.0 out of 5 stars Deep
Reviewed in the United States on September 15, 2021, Verified Purchase
Deep story. Captivating and a little scary. Well written!
""The story was very entertaining to read. I found the plot and the writing style pretty captivating. Boone's character is funny, lighthearted, and easy to like. Its tone reminds me of the adventure/fantasy books I enjoyed as a kid."" -Francis K, Arizona
""J. W. Zarek weaves magic on the page, developing an epic, urban fantasy - first in series - readers will want to stick with for a long time. Highly recommended."" -Chanticleer Reviews
""A remarkable paranormal tale that delivers plenty of plot developments, curious characters, and otherworldly things."" -Kirkus Reviews
""The story is unique, ingenious, thrilling, distinctive, and just plain fun to read, and told at a good pace that kept my interest. I also enjoyed the unexpected and warmly written ending very much."" -Brian M., New Zealand
""The world Zarek creates for readers is a wonderful blend of science fiction and present day reality. The contrast between the two is amazing and gives readers the best of both worlds. Readers looking for an exhilarating storyline will become instant fans. The plot is involved but will have readers on the edge of their seats rooting for its main character, Boone."" -Literary Titan
""With the glimmer of a potential series in the making, The Devil Pulls the Strings is an urban fantasy novel whose broken hero stumbles through Earth-shattering events, carried by the music and humor in his heart. -John M. Murray, Clarion Reviews"
Average rating from 2 members
If you like magic, fantasy, adventure, music, renascence fairs, or time travel check out this book! I was blown away by how much I enjoyed this. What a crazy adventure! I have never read anything like it. I voluntarily read and reviewed an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts and opinions are my own. 4.5/5