A Free Dreamer Review: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

I’ll be honest, “Bones and Bourbon” had me sold after the first paragraph of the blurb. That sounded so weird and crazy, I knew I just had to read it. And the book definitely delivered.

First of all, this is not a romance. Jarrod is in a relationship with a very interesting young man with a penchant for crazy ideas but that’s really not the focus of the plot at all. Rather, “Bones and Bourbon” is a wild Urban Fantasy with a protagonist who happens to be in a relationship.

The world building was excellent. I have a thing for myths and fairy tales of any kind. I’ve never heard of huldra (and some of the other creatures) before but there are actual myths about them. It was so fascinating. The author does a great job of describing their individual oddities. I’ve never met a character who’s literally only skin and bones. No blood, no internal organs, no nothing. And Jarrod has a cow tail, which is all kinds of weird and awesome at the same time. There were so many different creatures from all sorts of different cultures and I’ve heard about maybe half of them. Dorian Graves definitely deserves extra credit for creativity and uniqueness.

Nalem is probably one of the most interesting people I’ve met in a book in a very long time. His abilities are intriguing and also pretty creepy. We really don’t know anything about him and that makes him all the more fascinating.

All four of our protagonists are actually really interesting. And likable, with the exception of Nalem. Though even he has his moments. Oh, and they take “daddy issues” to a whole new level.

I’m Austrian, born and raised, so it added another layer of awesomeness that our protagonists were named after Austrian places. Retz is a tiny village I’ve never heard of before, even though it’s actually not that for from where I live. I’m always thrilled when authors remember little Austria exists.

The whole story was an incredibly wild ride of insanity and blood and violence. Definitely not for the faint of heart. Or unicorn fans. Because they’re actually vengeful bastards and extremely hard to kill. Which is all kinds of awesome, if you ask me. I think I’ve found my inner unicorn thanks to this book! And the best thing about this? This is only the first part in what promises to be a truly amazing series!

If you’re on the hunt for something a very different fantasy novel, and don’t mind dark and twisted stories that can get pretty gory and a little gross, then this is the book for you.  “Blood and Bones” will very likely make it under the top five books of 2018 for me. I’m not easily impressed, but this book did it. I can’t believe it only has less than 300 pages.

I’m not sure if I like the cover by Natasha Snow. It’s a bit generic, tbh.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 268 pages
Published April 23rd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608527
Edition LanguageEnglish

A MelanieM Review: Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves

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Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

What a startling fantasy story Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves turned out to be.  Dark, incredibly imaginative, not always enjoyable (trust me), with a universe so full that it needs more information to be complete in its foundation, and characters that both stymy and border on the profound,  this novel will leave you muttering and loving it long after you have turned off the Kindle.

Where to start?  Forget about any romance.  There isn’t any.  But there are characters who love each other deeply, which here constitutes a clear danger to each other.  For love is a pathway for horror in this case… or not.  Here both can and does happen simultaneously. And work out in ways which at the end leaves you with your mouth flapping open.

It’s a tale of two brothers on different paths…except that every time you think you have this story figured out, the author flips it on its head with a deeper, unrevealed arc.  There are more threads here than an ancient Turkish tapestry and more I expect that are coming as this is but book one.

The characterizations are amazing, the plotlines convoluted and dark and the elements here are often shocking when it comes to relationships (pain filled).   I said this novel was dark and often gritty.

I will tell you that a couple of times I almost stopped reading as I was upset with things that happened to several main characters.  Unpleasant things happen hear. Violent things.  Not rape,  but painful actions (non con) and if that is a trigger, that one if forced to act against his will, then this is not the book for you.  Because it will stay that   way over the series.

That’s not to say there isn’t the occasional moment of tenderness here.  But its fleeting and rare.

What a book Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves is.  Filled not with your kindly glowing elves or with  rainbow sparkling unicorns but with Fae far more fiendish and unicorns of your nightmares. This book is bloody, wild, scary, and hugely wonderful in a poignant, twisted wowser sort of way.  I highly recommend it but not to all.  It’s not to everyone’s tastes.  But if you are an adventurous reader, love your fantasy, and love some startling twists and turns in dark novels?  Here is just the thing for you.

 

Cover art: Natasha Snow.  I like the cover but honestly any ocver would fall short because of this storyline.

Sales Links:  NineStar Press | Amazon

Book Details:

ebook, 268 pages
Published April 23rd 2018 by NineStar Press
ISBN139781948608527
Edition LanguageEnglish

New Book Blitz for Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves (excerpt and giveaway)

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Title:  Bones and Bourbon

Author: Dorian Graves

Publisher:  NineStar Press

Release Date: April 23, 2018

Heat Level: 1 – No Sex

Pairing: No Romance

Length: 102000

Genre: Urban Fantasy, Ace, bisexual, trans, faeries, dark, immortals

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Synopsis

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides. It’s probably a bad idea to ask what else could go wrong.

Jarrod Gallows left home with plans to rescue his little brother from possession. Instead, he got saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new job—except why is his brother Retz here and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

Excerpt

Bones and Bourbon
Dorian Graves © 2018
All Rights Reserved

Chapter One: Retz
I woke up right when the teeth clamped down on my arm, which made me crank the wheel and almost ram into a guardrail before I realized I was driving. Neither of these things surprised me because it wasn’t the first time I’d woken up just in time to feel the hurt for whatever it was I’d unconsciously done.

What did surprise me was the identity of my attacker: a lone unicorn head. No body to speak of, just flaring nostrils, bloodshot eyes, and two rows of long, sharp teeth that wouldn’t have looked out of place on a shark.

I did the stupid thing and kept driving while I tried to shake the unicorn head off me. Why? Because I’m Retz Gallows, and I’d learned by then that even if I had no idea what I was doing when I woke up, I needed to get the job done first and ask what the fuck happened later.

I focused on the teeth that had broken through my skin (and my favorite shirt to boot) and were just striking my arm bones. My first order of business was strengthening my skeleton so the unicorn’s jaw couldn’t snap anything in half. It took just a few seconds for the bones to fortify, heavier but sturdy as stone. The unicorn gnawed my arm as if it were a chew toy. It snorted in confusion, both because of the sudden change and the fact that there was no blood or muscles in the way.

In case such wasn’t obvious, I’m not human. Well, not all the way. My father was a man of flesh, blood, and too many weapons hidden on him at any given time. But my mother was a huldra; her body was hollow, but she could still punch hard enough to stop a truck in its tracks. I’d seen her do it before too, though sadly, I hadn’t inherited nearly the same strength.

I imagined how nice it’d be if the unicorn’s teeth were fragile enough to crumble. As I did, bits of teeth stayed buried in my arm as the pieces fell apart, and the unicorn’s head fell unceremoniously into the passenger seat.

No, I hadn’t inherited the ability to control bones, even though sensing them was as natural to me as seeing and hearing. It’s a power my family wishes I’d never been given. But since I was pretty sure the unicorn head was no longer a threat, I decided it was time to ask the source of my powers what was going on.

“Nalem, you’d better not be asleep. Mind telling me where the hell we are?”

A deep, smooth voice purred an answer back in my head, “If you had bothered to look at the sign we just passed, you’d realize we’re in Oregon.”

“In case you didn’t notice, I was a bit preoccupied.”

A chuckle reverberated in my skull, and I felt the false sensation of my arms stretching, the ghost of Nalem’s actions. “Of course I did. I can tell when you’re borrowing my powers—and besides, who do you think left the head in here in the first place?”

I rounded another corner as the aforementioned head tried to headbutt my arm, horn-first. I realized I couldn’t affect the horn with my powers—it wasn’t quite bone, but something more magical that slipped away from my senses whenever I tried. So I just hardened my bones again and ignored the attack as I took in the scenery. True enough, we were on a half-paved road in the middle of nowhere, surrounded by evergreens that tried to block out the bright blue sky. It was late July, so deep into summer that not even Oregon’s fondness of rain kept the heat away. My windows were rolled down, seeing as the AC in my ancient Buick had died out long ago.

“Two questions, then. Where are we going, and why do we have a unicorn head with us?”

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Meet the Author

Much like Sasquatch and other local cryptids, Dorian Graves can supposedly be found in the woods of the Pacific Northwest. Few have ever seen Dorian, but investigators have found trails of plot notes scribbled on receipt paper if they followed the distant sounds of old Blue Öyster Cult albums long enough. There have also been reports of Dorian lurking around the Mills College campus in Oakland, CA, where Dorian was last seen scurrying away with a B.A. in English/Creative Writing. Dorian occasionally crawls out of the woodworks with offerings of fiction, strange and fantastical stories with equal parts humor and horror, but often retreats quickly unless bribed with coffee and bad puns.

When not writing or working “the other day job,” Dorian lives with a romantic partner and a mischievous cat. Dorian Graves can be convinced to sit still if given art supplies, games of all sorts, or a selection from the ever-growing TBR pile. Dorian can be more reliably found on http://www.doriangraves.com, where one can find artwork, fiction, and whatever inane topic Dorian feels like rambling about this week.

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