Short & Sweet Novella Review: Blood Follows by Steven Erikson
Tiara’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars. It’s like The Addams Family but with only Gomez, Uncle Fester, and Lurch.
Coming on the heels of my first foray into the Malazan empire (Gardens of the Moon) is Blood Follows, a short novella revolving around events outside the main story. Blood Follows takes place in the town of Lamentable Moll in a region called Theft. Emancipor Reese has lost yet another job as yet another of his employers dies an ill-fated death. Mancy’s, as he’s called by his friends and wife, latest employer becomes the 11th victim to a serial killer stalking the streets of Moll. Having no recourse but to find another job as quickly as possibly–lest he face the wrath of his wife–Mancy answers a warded notice for a manservant to two eccentric necromancers, the scholarly Bauchelain and the large, quiet eunuch Korbal Broach.
I read this as a gateway story while I gear up to read Deadhouse Gates, which is the second book in this Malazan series. Bauchelain, Korbal Broach, and Mancy are only background characters in the main novels, as I understand, so reading about their misadventures before the rest of the novels doesn’t really break anything in the story. This novella proves to be much like Erikson’s main offering, but on a smaller scale. Despite the short length, the book introduces quite a few cast of characters. However, given the short nature of this story, they’re not explored with the same depth. In fact, you pretty much have to make up your own mental image of most of the characters in this novel aside from the three men mentioned. There are some characters who beg for a deeper exploration while some just fall totally flat. That may or may not be a problem depending on your approach to short stories.
The plot, while basic, is entertaining enough. The description for this book makes it sound much more dramatic than it actually is, such as saying there was chaos among the people when that’s hardly noted at all in the story. There were ghastly things going on in the story, but nothing ever really felt urgent. I didn’t feel the sense of tension in this story that it was trying to convey. In fact, the murders almost feel secondary to what’s going with the characters in the story, and one of the big reveals in this story just seemed pushed out there without even a real hint that this is what was going on. Mainly, the interest in the story comes from readers meeting the necromancers and their new manservant, and the witticism found throughout this story. The joking nature gives this a sort of dark humor feel which is wildly different from the mostly serious endeavor that is Gardens of the Moon, and for that, I found this story enjoyable.
- Decent place for people who are just wanting a taste of Malazan to start
- A lighter, fun romp in the Malazan Empire (okay, as light as one can get with the Malazan Empire anyway)
- Large cast of characters with barely any descriptors may be a turn off
- Doesn’t really conjure much dread despite it being a murderer on the loose