Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5
Two months ago, Ben Nelson stepped between a vengeful demon and psychic Artie Middleton—and has been paying for that decision ever since. Now that the last rites have been administered, doctors are ready to pull the plug on the young police detective. The trouble is, Artie has seen his future and knows that Ben belongs there.
When a friend suggests a solution that seems…out of this world, Artie must face Ben’s parents and convince them that there’s a chance their son can be saved. Unfortunately, even if he succeeds, every good deed comes with a price.
And someone is always waiting to up the ante.
I’ve been waiting impatiently to see what happened next after the soul gathering demon attacked Ben and Artie in The Devil’s Bedpost (love that title). And while I was waiting, I heard through ripples in the Force, that this story was going to make me want to hunt the author down with a torch and pitchfork because of the ending. Did that happen? Yes, trust in the Force! What a story! And what a spine tingling ending that is almost quaranteed to make you scream in frustration and anguish.
Pulp Friction stories and their series are always accompanied by a rollercoaster of suspense, chills, close calls and lethal encounters. But never more so than in this year’s inter-connected stories in the Altered States universe. And that brings us back to the last moments in The Devil’s Bedpost where we weren’t sure who lived, who died…we were just left to panic and ponder.
Well, the wait is over. Up The Ante picks up two months after the events in the first book, and things are as disheartening and unsettled as never before. Ben lies in a coma in the hospital, hooked up to the machines with everyone losing hope for his recovery. And Artie is blaming himself and isolating himself from the few friends he has. It’s a desolate picture and Williams brings us into Artie’s heart and thoughts as he despairs of finding a way of helping Ben. We feel Artie’s pain, exhaustion, and desperation and we are there with him in spirit because we have become so fond of Ben ourselves in such a short amount of time.
One of the things that helps to complete a characterization, to give it a full fleshed out persona, is to make the supporting players around that character so believable that they add weight to his authenticity. That happens here with Ben and his family. We meet them all in the hospital where they have gathered, helplessly waiting to hear more from the doctors. There’s his mom, dad, sister and her husband. Each a well-defined character that grounds Ben in a family that loves him. And that element helps to point out its lack in Artie. Artie’s family is made up of a dog of a surprising nature, and his small weird group of supernatural friends. That they are his family as well is something Artie becomes aware of during the story. How I loved/hated these hospital moments with Ben so close to death because it allows Artie to finally start to accept his feelings for Ben and the idea that Artie might have/had more of a life then he ever dreamed of. It’s lovely, and sad, and life changing.
It’s the entrance of Tempest, the witch who works in the occult bookstore owned by Travis Boudreaux (Altered States series). She’s a strong female character, just as charismatic as the rest and I adored her. She heralds a sea change for those characters we have been concentrating our emotions on for so long. And hope appears along with her…
But remember those ripples in the Force I was telling you about? And yes, because this is only the second story, you know that things have to get nasty before they get better, so yes again, Parker Williams throws a boulder into the water at the end, and it’s not ripples but a tidal wave of emotion that will hit you at last word. I’d get out my pitchfork as threatened but I need the author to continue the story, to fix things and make it all better for all of us. Argh and sigh…because the ante has most definitely been “upped”.
But ignore all that gnashing of teeth and pulling of hair, I am loving every angst-filled bit of this story and series. It’s so well written, that the pages and plot fly by so I often have to go back and reread parts to see what clues or omens I may have missed. And really, that dog Duke? Priceless. Grab up this series and prepare to fall in love with peculiar and wonderful men in love, a story full of shocks and surprises and world building elements that never stop entertaining or intriguing you. Don’t start here, however, go back to the first story and read them in sequence. It’s the only way to understand the overall series plot and character development. Happy Reading and Anxious Waiting!
Cover art by Laura Harner. I still wish for more of a dark element (not dark colors) to be included. This is a series that includes demons and the occult so I wished for more of that in the design than a serious, sort of grumpy model.
Kindle Edition, 61 pages
Published May 13th 2015
About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner
The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
One supernatural finale.
Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner
Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil
Stud Player (King of Hearts: 2) by Havan Fellows
Up the Ante (Four of Clubs: 2) by Parker Williams
Diamond Draw (Ace of Diamonds: 2) by Laura Harner