Reading level: Adult
Genre: Urban fantasy
Mass market paperback: 352 pages
Release date: August 7, 2012
Series: Deacon Chalk #2
Source: Review copy from publisher
Reviewed by: Jenn
He hasn't met a monster yet that could give him a scare. With ice in his veins, silver hollow-points in his chambers, and an innate ability to rise from the dead, what's to fear? The answer may be something he doesn't want to face. . .
Deacon Chalk normally has no trouble telling innocent victims from real monsters. So protecting an abused pregnant were-dog is a no-brainer. . .until a vicious lycanthrope leader and his brotherhood target Deacon, other shape-shifters, and any humans in their way. Suddenly, Deacon is outnumbered, outgunned, and unsure who--or what--to trust. The only edge he has left is a weapon hungry for his soul and his most savage impulses. And using it will exact a price even this hell-raising hunter fears to pay…
In Deacon Chalk's second full-length adventure, James R. Tuck has upped the stakes considerably. It's been a year since the events of BLOOD AND BULLETS and Deacon has been proceeding with business as usual since we last saw him. There have been some fights (see SPIDER'S LULLABY, which contains events referenced in BLOOD AND SILVER) but there have also been quiet moments. His friendship with Charlotte, the werespider from BLOOD AND BULLETS, has become really solid and Tiff has found her place in Deacon's life and a job at the bar that Deacon owns. We also find out early on what Larson has been doing and I'm intrigued by his new role. (In BLOOD AND BULLETS, he was a determined but somewhat hapless sidekick. In BLOOD AND SILVER, he has taken on different responsibilities and I think it's a nice fit for him. I wasn't expecting it but I really liked what James R. Tuck has done for Larson.)
But BLOOD AND SILVER isn't just about these people -- it's also about the hairy situation they end up in. As you may have guessed from the "silver" in the title, Deacon is dealing with weres this time around. He rescues a were-dog in the first chapter and it quickly goes from nice-calm-evening to holy-crap-that's-intense-and-ow-that-had-to-hurt. I loved it. The plot is fast-paced and tightly planned, the new characters really open up the world and teach us a lot about how the different weres live, and we get some significant character development for Deacon. I love how James R. Tuck has constructed were society and I hope we get to see a lot more of some of the characters that have been introduced. Furthermore, I enjoyed Deacon's narration a lot more this time, in part because we see him start to open his heart and also because he spends less time dwelling and more time doing.
Deacon is a really interesting protagonist. He's super tough and gifted and very good and what he does, but he's also got marshmallow insides when it comes to his dead family. His motivation for hunting monsters is simple and complex all at the same time: he wants to kill monsters to save people from suffering the losses he has, and he wants to die but doesn't want to commit suicide. He's basically looking for suicide by monster, and it's easy to forget that sometimes because he fights so hard for his friends and beliefs, and even random dogs being abused on the street. This combination of characteristics definitely makes Deacon one of the most unique characters in urban fantasy today.
I need to take a moment to talk about Deacon and Tiff. They met in BLOOD AND BULLETS and Tiff signed up to be one of his girls, in a non-dancing capacity. There was instant attraction but they haven't really acted on it because Deacon is haunted by the memories of his dead wife and family, which Tiff understands without knowing the details. After a year of being friends, things finally start to develop. And I really like that their relationship epitomizes slow boil up to this point. Deacon experienced a horrific tragedy and I'm glad he didn't start sleeping around to deal with his pain. At the same time, it's nice to see him open up a bit, without forgetting that his family existed. Emotional growth can get lost in the flurry of fists and bullets and I really enjoyed watching Deacon explore whether or not he was able to have another romantic relationship. And I have to give kudos to Tiff for sticking by Deacon, knowing he wasn't ready for a new romance and being a good friend.
All in all, BLOOD AND SILVER is a delicious urban fantasy tale filled with action, emotion, and fantastic world building. I thoroughly enjoyed this instalment in the series and hope you will, too. If you weren't completely sold on Deacon Chalk, you should give this book a shot because I think it'll convince you that James R. Tuck is a great new(ish) voice in the genre. I can't wait to see where James R. Tuck takes us next.