Really, one of the great things about this writer gig is the reading and discovering new books. Whether it’s for pleasure, research, critique, or when someone recommends a book because “zomg you have to read this now–it’s so00 good!” I love it.
Recently, I got my hot little hands on an advance review copy of the latest offering from Timid Pirate Publishing. Eye for an Eye is a novella by Erik Scott de Bie set in the Cobalt City superhero universe. Erik is also the author of Shadowbane and the forthcoming Eye of Justice, both set in the Forgotten Realms.
About now you may be asking, “But what is this Cobalt City thing?” Well, I had the same question. I wasn’t very familiar with the line of books set in this city of superheroes before I dived in. Timid Pirate has a handy world guide available, but I found I didn’t need it to follow the story, so newcomers, you won’t be lost.
The following review is as spoiler-free as I could make it.
After a mysterious prologue, the meat of the story begins with Lady Vengeance, or Vivienne, on the run from the Raven after a bloody battle leaves her literally holding herself together. Her fear-inducing powers gone awry, she escapes via teleportation device to Cobalt City, landing smack in the middle of the bargain bin of that city’s equivalent of Victoria’s Secret and disrupting Jaccob Stevens’ shopping trip with his daughter.
I should also mention that Lady Vengeance has problems–I mean beyond the aforementioned Raven and life-threatening injuries and teleporting into a pool of bras. Behind her swearing and snappy one-liners, she is haunted by tragedy, and her encounter with semi-retired superhero Stardust (Stevens’ alter-ego), a dedicated family man flirting with a mid-life crisis, is fraught with some surprising kinds of peril.
Some men, when dealing with a mid-life crisis, choose to purchase a fancy, expensive car. Stevens’ car actually becomes his superhero suit, and he’s more than capable of using it to blow stuff up. Whether he’s capable of dealing with Lady Vengeance and the feelings of restlessness she stokes inside of him is less certain, but the reader is in for one heck of a ride as Eye for an Eye examines the choices we make, whether we choose to settle down or live alone, and how we live with the consequences.
Stardust holds his own throughout the story, and while there are echoes of Tony Stark in his wealth and love of tech, Stevens is more conscientious than Stark could ever be, not to mention more stable. Lady Vengeance, on the other hand, is strong, damaged, vulnerable, manipulative, and always about five steps ahead of everyone else around her. I got the sense that she might have had Stardust eating out of her hand (or lying in pieces on the floor) from the get-go without the presence of Liz, Stardust’s patient and very understanding wife. Vivienne’s sudden explosion into their and their children’s lives serves to highlight just how alone she is, and for those scenes alone I would recommend the story.
The novella comes in a two-pack with a tale by Minerva Zimmerman, and at $4.99 for both on ebook, it’s a sweet, double feature deal from Timid Pirate.