Book Review: Body and Blood, by Michael Gallagher
Michael is one of our reviewers here at Upstream Reviews, and his book drops on August 1st. Body and Blood is his first effort and writing a novel.
Frankly, it’s awesome
Father James Keenan heard a disturbance in the church, so he put on his Kevlar blazers, grabbed the pulse rifle. He expects to find more thieves trying to steal from that Sunday’s collection. Instead, he finds two literal ghouls trying to steal the consecrated hosts from the tabernacle. With the help of his 6’3” fellow priest (and former pro-wrestler) Akono Nwosou, the two creatures are barely beaten back.
This is the opening scene of Michael Gallagher’s Body and Blood. There’s a bounty on all things religious, and every local temple and church is being raided, tags left on their doors.
After this, nothing gets easier. Keenan and Nwosou have to wage spiritual and literal warfare against a demonic street gang, led by a demonic witch, operating out of the “Black Hollow projects.” But they have allies of their own. And this war is going to be Hell on Earth.
This is the first book by Michael Gallagher, and I hate him just a little now. Aside from one or two difficulties in the last few pages, this book is damn near perfect. There’s no preaching, except for an occasional doctrinal element that acts as a plot device, then it can go on a few sentences too long.
Body and Blood has a colorful cast of characters, from our two main characters, to the parish secretary, who looks like Jeanine from Ghostbusters, only armed. Along the way, we have the motorcycle gang whose members all bring their Abuela to church. There is also the Russian restaurant owner who the demonic gangbangers try to strongarm.
Our villains are represented by two characters. The gang leader Ojo is the primary point of view character for the dark side, and he follows the darkness, despite being wary of it. He is entertaining, and he gives us a perspective of why anyone is following the witch of Black Hollow. The witch herself looks like Mister Roger’s grandmother, until you scratch the surface to the eldritch horror beneath.
Personally, I enjoyed the assassin for hire who is the little man who wasn’t there, who makes dad jokes.
And seriously, do not mess with the parish secretary.
This is a world where we don’t know the events of the day. We don’t know how this world came to be, or even what city this is. This may as well be “once upon in a time, in a galaxy far far away.” The location itself is a living breathing thing that gives you enough of an idea what’s going on. When the world has fallen so far that Keenan casually refers to his four exorcisms a month, and that it’s become so bad that they needed a one-shot exorcism format (instead of the ), you can tell the world is in pieces. Yet somehow, this isn’t a dystopia. This is science fiction horror.
You get a sense of the world in the first scene, when Father Akono’s bedroom is “on the other side of the church for a better flanking position.”
There are heavy elements that imply a near-dystopian society, but honestly that could just be this section of this city. There is just enough world-building here to make the plot move, and it moves fast. But readers can’t get a good grasp of how much this parish is in or near the projects, or if it’s the wider world. Honestly, it doesn’t matter. We may get more in subsequent books set in this universe.
None really. I’ve seen more politics in the John Wick movies.
There are elements of body horror here. There is child sacrifice and lots of blood. There’s one scene where someone is basically tortured to death, but he had it coming.
Who is it For?
If you like he horror of Tim Powers, the action of Larry Correia or the world building of Jim Butcher, you’re going to love this.
Why you should buy
Body and Blood this is a fun novel that will grab you by the throat and not let you go until it’s finished. It is a fun, entertaining romp through a near-future world where things are slowly going to Hell in a handcart, but no one here is going down without a fight.
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