If you’ve been following my reviews over the course of the year, you may have noticed what a fan I am of Dixon Reuel’s Blood Brute series. If you haven’t, click the links to read my reviews of Myth of Five’s predecessors: Rise of One, Fall of Two, Ebb of Three and Strain of Four; and if you need even more convincing, my thoughts about the omnibus collecting the first three volumes, The Blood Brute, Volume 1. After writing thousands of words about this series, part of me wonders if there’s anything new to say: thankfully, once again, the author has written another story that takes the vampire Rise in a new direction, providing the reader plenty to chew on.
It’s feeling like a bit of a trope for my reviews to comment on the latest Blood Brute entry as “the best one yet,” so I’ll get it out of the way quickly: Myth of Five is the best one yet. Whether it’s the story Reuel tells, its characters, its introspective nature, or even the author’s prose, Myth of Five takes everything that has worked well for the series and dials it up a notch. This is a novel with so many parts that come together beautifully, resulting in a heartfelt story that is truly affecting. Thanks to the events of the previous entries, the events here feel earned, and they are conveyed beautifully throughout.
Myth of Five starts off innocuously enough. As we catch up with Rise, twenty years have passed since the events of the previous novels, and he’s petting his cat, Tom. From here, the reader is treated to a meditation on loneliness, with this protagonist so shaken by the events of his past that he would rather wallow in his misery and loneliness, rather than deal with anyone. The Blood Brute series has often dealt with themes of isolation, and those themes continue here, however Rise’s isolation is a prison of his own making. As the story progresses, Rise faces the need to change, and evolves in interesting ways. While after five books, Rise is a fully developed character, the growth he continues to undergo is brilliant.
At 294 pages in paperback (or an estimated 240 pages in eBook form), Myth of Five is not one of the longer entries. It quickly sets the scene for the story, and unveils it slowly, striking a careful pace as it delves into Rise’s loneliness, and the events that transpire. The book doesn’t take the time to catch readers up on the previous four entries, but stands well enough alone that should you be coming into the book without having read the rest of the story, you won’t be lost—but given what a great series is, if you don’t read those first four books beforehand, you’ll be missing out.
As is par for the course with this series, the pace moves gradually, focusing on Rise’s humanity above all else. It’s still a story about a zombie-bitten vampire, or “blood brute,” per the series title, and it’s still an urban fantasy with horror trappings. The book works beautifully on these genre fronts, but the magic comes from how Reuel blends these with the personal narrative. As the book moves to its crescendo, the elements come together wonderfully. While in many ways, Myth of Five would work as a great conclusion to Rise’s tale (something I also mentioned in my review of Strain of Four; these books nail their endings), there is still one more book to come in the series, and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.
Throughout the Blood Brute series, Reuel has continued to refine her prose. While feeling consistent with all that came before, Myth of Five feels like an evolution of what came before. Throughout this novel, I was struck by the author’s words. Often beautiful, often haunting, and often both at once, it presents the world, characters and emotion beautifully. Through her words, the author paints a vivid picture of the events in the reader’s mind, absorbing them in the world.
Likewise, Myth of Five’s dialogue is resonant. Where in the first couple of entries, I didn’t find it entirely successful, it is something that has long been rectified. In Myth of Five, the dialogue goes above and beyond: it doesn’t just feel natural, it sings. The characters all have their unique voices and play off each other incredibly well. But more than that, it serves as a compliment to the prose, with both aspects fitting together perfectly to form a wonderful whole.
The characterisation has long been a hallmark of Blood Brute, and Myth of Five continues this trend. As I mentioned earlier, at this stage of the series, Rise continues to grow, and his character arc in this latest entry is beautiful. While readers won’t be able to relate to being a vampire who’s been bitten by a zombie, they can certainly relate to a character who has experienced loss and is shaken to the core by everything that’s happened to him. And as always, Rise’s sexuality is handled with beauty, one aspect of a complex character. Naturally, while Rise is the book’s protagonist and the sole point of view character, he’s not the only character in the book. All the characters in Myth of Five work beautifully. They’re fully formed and add depth to the world.
Myth of Five continues the author’s tradition of exceeding all that came before in the series. It’s a stunning achievement that continues Rise’s journey, and finds new things to say about him. The plot works wonderfully, and its themes and characterisation are beautiful. I’m looking forward to seeing how the author concludes Rise’s tale, but I’ll be disappointed to see it end.
Then he saw her, glimmering in red satins and velvets on the edge of a brute’s vision. She too sat on horseback. Rise jumped to another brute, catching sight of the dingy that had brought her to shore. The Chariot stood at anchor in deeper waters. Captain Simit unloaded more horses nearby as Scorper, alone, set off across the beach in front of her brute heard to lead them, like a rivulet of blood flowing across the sands.Myth of Five: Blood Brute, Book Five, Part 3 – “Winter,” Chapter 18: “Wolves and Scythes”
Myth of Five: Blood Brute, Book Five was provided by the author for the purpose of an honest review.
Myth of Five will be available in eBook and physical formats from retailers, including—but not limited to—Amazon from 1 December 2022.
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Please find a link below; please note I do not collect any proceeds from the sale.Myth of Five: A Vampire / Zombies Apocalyptic Fantasy Novel (Blood Brute Book 5)