Ciao, amici! If you’ve been following this blog for a while, you’ve seen me host C.S. Boyack before and/or discuss his work. His creative take on speculative fiction is unparalleled. And if you’re only a recent follower, you may have seen him here when he did his blog tour for his latest release, Voyage of the Lanternfish. (If you missed that post, you can find it here.)
At that time, I told you I’d be back soon with my review. And today is the day.
An honorable man is mistaken for his disreputable father. Now he’s pushed into a political scheme to start a war that will spread across multiple kingdoms. James Cuttler’s fiancé is being held captive to ensure he goes through with the plan.
He soon decides his skills are at sea and procures a ship to wage war upon those who disrupted his simple life. He can’t do it alone, so he recruits a band of cutthroats to help him. But first, they need guns and munitions to outfit the ship properly. Deception and trickery will only get them so far. Eventually, they’re going to have to engage the enemy.
James’ goals aren’t necessarily the same as his crew. It’s a delicate balancing act to collect enough loot to keep his crew happy, while guiding them back to rescue the girl.
Voyage of the Lanternfish is filled with adventure, magic, and monsters. Lots of monsters. Hoist the colors and come along for the ride.
When I heard one of my favorite authors had taken on a pirate fantasy, I was excited. There’s something compelling about a scoundrel’s life on the high seas that captures my interest. Add C. S. Boyack’s quirky and clever take on characters and plot, and I was certain this would be a winner.
It absolutely was.
Boyack crafted some of my favorite characters to date — root monsters. They are fun and boisterous creatures that really help sell the type of story this is. It’s not a standard swashbuckler. It’s magical realism. There’s just a smidge of magic and make believe that help to create a fantasy world anyone would love to visit. From different nationalities to nautical cryptids, this world is vibrant and believable.
World-building aside, these are strong and unique characters. Boyack managed to give us a representative sampling of all walks of life while blending them seamlessly on the page. Everyone has a unique voice and motivation, and all of them are memorable.
The action is fast-paced. The plot is solid. The characters are unique. And it all comes together to create an epic adventure. I wish I could give it more than five stars. As it is, I’ll just have to hope for a sequel.
If you haven’t read C.S. Boyack’s work yet, I highly recommend it. And if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting his site, might I suggest you do so? He is whimsically inventive, always entertaining, and very generous with his time and blog space. You can peruse his posts, learn more about his work, or just get to know him a little better by visiting his site.
Ooops! I somehow got an Amazon vote when I copied over my review.
To those of you who noticed, sorry. I’ve since deleted that part.