Author: Sean M. Hogan
Genre: Dark Fantasy, Novella
Note: Sean M. Hogan is a friend from my writing group the Pendragons.
Gray-eyed, blond-haired Michelle Lionmane is on a quest to avenge her mentor, the previous Marauder known as Atlas. But when she arrives in post-apocalyptic New York City, she finds ghouls, wraiths, and demon dogs standing in her way. Fortunately, Michelle has just the weapons to handle them--a broadsword that can channel elemental magic and a demon-eating vortex attached to her left hand. (She calls him Lefty.) A Marauder struggles onward, no matter the cost. But when a new threat rears its head, will it be too much for Michelle to take?
This story is like the pilot episode of a really awesome anime. There are visceral images, snarky banter, cool fights, and an anything-goes world that contains a surprising amount of philosophy. The only problem is that, like an anime episode, it was short and had a minor cliff-hanger ending that ultimately left me salivating for more.
Considering how short it is, The Marauder contains a surprising amount of world-building. This may be because Sean M. Hogan draws upon his own mythology from his epic novel, The Crow Behind the Mirror. The Marauder isn't merely a spin-off of Crow, but instead appears to be set in an alternate universe. Places and characters are name-dropped, but they are presented very differently. For example, Michelle Lionmane appears in The Crow Behind the Mirror, but her backstory is noticeably changed. There's currently no explanation for this alternate world, although later episodes may fill in the blanks.
Michelle, the main character, is awesome. She is tough but vulnerable and very witty. Of her two companions, my favorite was Lefty, the sentient "hand goblin" with a voracious appetite. His interactions with Michelle are sometimes disgusting, often hilarious, and always fun. I didn't personally care for Michelle's other companion, a gun-totting cowboy named Jon, but his backstory surprised me with its heart.
Should you get it? Definitely. It's a fun, action-packed read with lovely prose and strong characters. But don't be surprised if you're left wanting more.