by David Niall Wilson
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Pub Date 19 Dec 2017 | Archive Date 30 Apr 2022
Crossroad Press, Macabre Ink
From award-winning author David Niall Wilson, what Publishers Weekly calls : "...an engrossing, poetic novel of spiritual evil..."
""Blue" reminds me of first discovering Anne Rice in my 30s,; the richness, the cellular examination of detail on every level, the flesh of the characters, the music, time... a unique work, a unique writer..." - Johnette Napolitano - Concrete Blonde
Brandt is a down-and-out guitarist and vocalist who believes his life has hit rock bottom. He can't make the rent on his apartment, he drinks so much he can barely make it to the crappy gig that keeps his band afloat, let alone play when he gets there. When he leaves the bar one dark night with a bottle of Jose Cuervo in one hand and his guitar case in the other, he finds he’s locked out of his apartment with no where to go.
In an alley filled with trash can fires and homeless vagrants, Brandt meets Wally, an old black man who can play the music that Brandt dreams of – the blues. In the ensuing encounter, Brandt is gifted – or cursed – with new abilities. He feels the pain building up around him and inside him. Not his own pain, but the pain of others, the pain of those who have passed away, the pain of those who died with no one to hear their stories. He becomes a conduit for the pain of the world.
What follows are a series of revelations, one for each member of the band, and one for a young girl named Liz, drawing them together, and ultimately reuniting them with Brandt. Together, Brandt, Sinthia, Shaver, Dexter and Liz take off to the mountain town of Friendly California for a date with pain, destiny, and a silver haired Reverend who would like to see them dead. In the final showdown, they must meet the challenge of the music, the pain, and their mingled histories and stand, or fall, with the pain of the world in the balance.
"Wilson demonstrates that a horror novel doesn't need gallons of blood to succeed, that spiritual terror can be even more effective." - Publisher's Weekly
"Through some great musical imagery and engrossing sub-plots, David Niall Wilson has written a captivating story that is full of surprises." - SF Site -Featured review
"Wilson paints liquid rainbows when he describes each band member's experience behind his or her newly-rediscovered instruments and skills, and if this were all that the book were about, it would be enough. But there's plenty more going on in Deep Blue to satisfy the author's fans (who are used to him not sticking to genre conventions) and to draw in plenty of new ones." Craig's Booklist Reviews
Average rating from 2 members
I'm not much of a music lover and, according to my wife, I have terrible taste in music. However, I've always believed in the power of music and stories which use it as a supplement to magic are a great one. This is different from David Niall Wilson's urban fantasy series, though, like the Dechance Chronicles. Instead, this is Magical Realism. It is a place which the supernatural intrudes in on the "real" world in a way which is both beautiful and tragic.
The story is a variation on the myth of Robert Johnson, legendary blues man who supposedly made a deal with the Devil at the crossroads in order to play better than anyone else. It may or may not have happened depending on your beliefs (his son said his father's gift was from God) but it makes a hell of a story. David Wilson takes the premise and alludes to it many times while leaving our protagonist in the dark for much of it.
Brandt is a great character and feels utterly authentic. As a writer, I have sympathy for people who are passionate about their subject and the art form but haven't quite found the fame or fortune that might come with a better break. Truth be told, Brandt may not even be that good at what he does. He's perpetually drunk, lazy, and his devotion to his craft is spotty. He loves the music and feels impassioned by it but he has replaced the best of their band after his death while having a complete lack of respect for the other member (who he lusts after). They're going nowhere and he blames it on circumstance and bad luck than the reality.
Brandt isn't a bad guy, though. He's a man who deeply loves his craft even if it's questionable just how good he is at it. He's certainly capable of recognizing what is the best music, THE song if you will, and wanting it for its own sake rather than any desire for fame or fortune. He's a wholly believable in his relationships both failed and successful plus his friendships because I've known plenty of people who live in the moment like he and his friends.
Deep Blue is a novel more about experiencing music and it's power rather than explaining it, though. The prose is like a rhythm on page, getting us deep in the mind of its characters and explaining in epic flourishes what it means to be affected by the music. It's not going to be for everyone but is probably my favorite of David Niall Wilson's books.