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The Blue Blazes

The Blue Blazes - Chuck Wendig I remember when I held my eldest daughter for the first time. Tons of emotions. You are tired and here is this little person. A part of you with so many possibilities ahead of her. I had, and still have, so many wishes for each of my kiddos. To be healthy, happy, safe, and there in the background is that wish for me: please, please, please do not let me fuck this up.That feeling, that fear came back to me as I read Wendig's Blue Blazes. Sure, there are monsters from deep below the earth, goblins, human monsters, the walking dead, snake-like assassins, addicts, criminals, killers, but underneath it all is a father who was a horrible parent. And that comes back to bite him in the ass. It also gives him a chance to do better, if he can beat the odds.Mookie Pearl is a thug. He runs a few crews who harvest the Blue Blazes, a drug dug out of the earth that has mystical properties, allowing humans to see past glamour and have increased senses and strength. It is also addictive as hell and not without side effects. Mookie beats, maims, and kills when necessary. He is also getting old, but still kicks ass.Then his daughter, who he ran out on years before, shows up, betrays him, and tries to carve out her own territory. Nora is pissed, flush with money, and screams her hate through every action. When it looks like Nora killed someone very high up in Mookie's organization, he is sent out to take her down. But can he do it?Wendig has a gift for creating these characters who do such horrible things, but who are so easy to root for. Maybe it helps that pretty much all of his victims are horrible people or creatures themselves. Mookie also has more layers than are visible at first glance. He has his reasons for why he left. Not great ones, but he has them. He also has fists that can carve a goblin's head in, so if you have to face down an inhuman horde, he's a good bet.There are lots of different little relationships here, besides Mookie and Nora. The side characters help to peel back the layers of the big guy's personality. Kelly was fantastic as the leader of a gang who has no reason to trust Mookie. Burnsy is memorable as well and has more in common with Mookie than he would ever want to admit. We also have Werth, Mookie's boss, who has his own reasons for hating Nora.And Nora. She is terrifying, petulant, screaming for attention, and just so screwed up. We don't get to see a whole lot that isn't the destructive force of nature that is Mookie's daughter. I spent most of the story hoping a karmic clue-by-four would knock some sense into her. We get to see a few of her layers peeled back, but not a lot, and Mookie is not the only one with sins resting on his soul.Tons of action, lots of fight scenes, this is a fast-paced, thrilling read. The world was quite vivid. Dangerous and scary, the human gangs topside and the inhuman monsters underneath mean that danger is never far away. The mythology was very interesting, from the goblin temples to the walking dead of Daisypusher to the bottom of the Great Below.This redemptive journey of Mookie Pearl has started, but he is not finished yet. There are more stories here. I will be reading the next one.[received an ARC to review]