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The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston book review

The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston Book Review

Order The Maleficent Seven over HERE (US) and HERE (UK)

ABOUT CAMERON: Cameron Johnston lives in Glasgow, Scotland. He is a swordsman, a gamer, an enthusiast of archaeology, history, and mythology, a builder of LEGO, and owns far too many books to fit on his shelves. He loves exploring ancient sites and camping out under the stars by a roaring fire. His debut novel, The Traitor God, earned him a nomination for the British Fantasy Award for Best Newcomer (The Sydney J Bounds Award) 2019, and the Dragon Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

Publication date: August 10, 2021 with Angry Robot. Page count: 336 p (paperback). Cover art by Mark Ecob

GENRE: dark fantasy

OVERVIEW: The Maleficent Seven promises madness, and that’s what it delivers. Lots of it. If you like watching bad guys doing bad things in the service of good, here’s your next fix. 

Black Herran, a powerful demonologist and fearsome general, sold her soul for power. Instead of sealing the deal, she abandoned her armies at the cusp of victory and disappeared. Forty years later, she needs to reassemble her generals to stop a new threat, the Lucent Empire and its holy knights, from invading her hometown. 

The problem? Her old comrades hate each other and Black Herran most of all. The first part of the book follows the reassembly of the team and is wildly entertaining. The team includes Maeven (a devious necromancer), Lorrimer Felle (a posh vampire with a penchant for mayhem and violence), Tiarnach (god of war turned drunkard), the pirate Queen Verena Awildan, Amogg (unstoppable orc), and Jerak Hyden (mad alchemist who terrifies everyone). They agree to join forces against a common foe, but it’s clear they’ll play their own games, too.

The second part of the book gets even more over-the-top, as the team assembles in Tarnbrook and deals with armies of the Lucent Empire. There're no heroes in The Maleficent Seven; only monsters doing monstrous things to stop other monsters. If you don’t like inappropriate humour mixed with gore, you probably won’t appreciate the story. If, however, madness appeals to you, Johnston will entertain you in a loud and violent way.

The story develops at a breakneck pace and rarely pauses. Cameron Johnston excels at two things; characters and action scenes. While I wouldn’t call any of the characters real (they’re too over-the-top in every way), I found them memorable and distinct. The action scenes provide everything action-hungry readers can imagine (magic, demons, sword and ax fights, explosions, mayhem) and more! Because the story is told from an omniscient point of view, we learn a bit about everyone but without getting to know anyone intimately. A brave choice but it (mostly) works.

Readers tired with slow-moving, over-written, exposition-fraught epics will find lots to enjoy here. It’s not life-changing, but it’s wildly entertaining and addictive to read.  

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