Title: Blood Hound
Author: James Osiris Baldwin
Blurb: Alexi Sokolsky is a Spook, a hitman and mage capable of killing with nothing but a word of power and the strength of his Will. But arcane ability comes with a price: The same powers that make Alexi indispensable to the Russian Mafia also make him a social outcast, an object of fear and superstition.
When a high-ranking Sicilian Mafioso is brutally murdered and dumped on Russian Mafia territory covered in Occult sigils, everyone blames the only mage they know – Alexi. Forced to play detective to clear his name, Alexi discovers that the gruesome sacrifice is only the beginning of a hunt that threatens Life as we know it. A Gift Horse – a mysterious creature rumored to carry the secrets of all creation in her flesh and blood – has landed in New York. Every underworld mage in the city is slavering over the limitless power she can provide, and in her desperation, she is calling to Alexi for help.
If Alexi heeds the Gift Horse’s call, he stands to lose his place in the Mafia and his life. If he doesn’t, the world will be held hostage by whoever finds her first – and given that a demon-summoning murderous psychopath is in pole position, the odds are not in the world’s favor.
Part of the mafia, and yet not quite part of it, Alexi is a Spook,—a mage—and a hitman. After the body of an enemy mafia lands on their docks with all the look of being part of a demon summoning, Alexi finds himself wrapped up in a little more than anyone bargained for. Because they’re not trying to summon a demon…they’re trying to something way better, and way worse.
I liked Alexi. He embodied the usual mafia tropes. Big, loves violence, and a mage. Okay, so maybe that last one isn’t quite the usual but it definitely brought a different spin to things. I loved the deep magic in this world, so connected to everything. While I feel like we only got a glimpse of it, what little taste I did have made me crave more.
There are some quirks to Alexi. He isn’t good socially or sexually. The last bit is important to me, because usually women embody the Holy Virgin tropes in games, movies, TV, books, etc. James Osiris Baldwin used the trope to his ends fantastically.
I think the magic and characters is what really does it for me. I’m a huge magic-lover, so it’s to be expected. But with sigils, words of power, and so much more I was drawn in. I mean, magic is used within the first pages, and if that isn’t enough to hook you I don’t know what is.
But the characters really brought it along. Especially as I never knew who to trust. I won’t spoil anything, but I trusted people I shouldn’t have, and didn’t trust people I should. Same goes for Alexi, really, but that’s how these things go. I loved not know, and I loved how deep even the side characters became amidst an Alexi-centered story.
Anyone who loves beautiful magic, amazing plots, wonderful characters, and intrigue should definitely read this book. I can’t wait to buy the second one and dive right in.
Stay tuned for May 7th, 2017 when I livetweet the book A World of My Own by Becca Bates