Book Review and Author Interview: Bloodrush (The Scarlett Star Trilogy #1) by Ben Galley
The author Ben Galley kindly agreed to answer some of my questions! So, below is my review and following is the interview.
Bloodrush is a weird west fantasy is set in the frontier town of Fell Falls, America. It’s on the edges of a dusty, desolate desert. There are guns, wild locals, and monsters called railwraiths that eat up the railway workers attempting to lay tracks to expand the empire. There’s also blood magic and faeries. Yep, faeries!
The tale centres on Tonmerion Hark, a young teenager who is sent to live with his aunt when his VIP father, Lord Hark, also known as the Bulldog of London and the Prime Lord of the Empire of Britannia, is found murdered. Much to Merion’s annoyance, his aunt, Lilain, lives in the New Kingdom.
Off Merion trundles from his father’s ample estate on a boat across the sea and then by train to Fell Falls. Accompanied by his faerie best friend, Rhin, Merion is naturally very put out to find his aunt lives in a bit of a shack on the wrong side of town, and has a rather distasteful job as the town’s undertaker.
Determined to get back to London to find out who murdered his father and reclaim his substantial inheritance, Merion decides to work for his aunt to earn some cash for the train / boat fare. He also heads off on an enlightening (and hot) journey into the desert with his aunt’s friend, the strange prospector Lurker, and his magpie. When the wealthy Serped family, owners of the railroad company, come to town Merion spots his chance to gain support for his get-back-to-London cause. He also gets a tad distracted by Lord Serped’s daughter.
However, his aunt isn’t just an undertaker, the Serpeds aren’t what they seem, and Rhin has some dark secrets and vengeful enemies hot on his tail. Merion must also deal with the wild locals, the Shohari, raiding the town and a rather unpleasant post office master. He’s also coping with the revelation that there’s such a thing as blood magick. “Roots be damned!”
This was a really enjoyable read. I enjoyed the mash up of western and fantasy, the whole other world of the faeries as well as the stiff upper lip Merion who must grow up and decide who’s worth fighting for and who isn’t. It is a coming-of-age tale that is packed with laugh-out-loud humour, some grand battles, and a cool magic system.
The ‘magick’ was entertaining to read about – the blood of different animals and creatures did different things when ingested and in combination those things could be epic, or cause terrible nosebleeds or similar ailments. I like that there’s a detailed section at the end of the book all about bloodrushing and the different ‘shades’ with the positive and negative effects of each.
I recommend this book for those who like reading unusual fantasy that breaks the mould. It’s a refreshing concept with quite different elements that come together and work well.
My rating: 4.5/5
Goodreads | Author website
Q. Please tell us a little about yourself?
Hello! Thanks for having me. My name is Ben Galley, and I’m a dark and epic fantasy author from the UK who currently hails from Canada.
I’m the author behind the bestselling Emaneska Series, the Scarlet Star Trilogy, The Heart of Stone and the new Chasing Graves Trilogy.
When I’m not scribbling tall tales about magic and dragons, I’m usually exploring the wilds, gaming, or chasing things with drones.
Q. What is your favourite book and why?
That would have to be American Gods by Neil Gaiman. In my humble opinion, it’s one of the greatest works of modern fantasy.
The concept of old gods fighting against new gods of the modern world is not only original but executed with beauty, detail and literary skill that makes the jaw hang loose.
It was the book that inspired me to get back into writing in my early twenties and started me on the path of becoming an author.
Q. What got you into writing?
Originally, it started as a passion for reading. My parents were responsible for providing me with all manner of amazing books when I was a kid, from Lord Of The Rings and the books of Narnia to Grimm’s Fairy Tales and The Iliad.
It wasn’t long before I decided to try my hand at creating my own worlds, and churned out several novels by early teens. Education and growing up distracted me for a while, but after dabbling in music for a time, I rediscovered my passion and launched myself wholeheartedly into writing.
Q. Bloodrush is the first book in the Scarlet Star Trilogy, described as ‘weird west alternate history’. Where did the idea for the trilogy come from?
I’ve always seen connections between the medieval worlds many fantasy books draw from and the wild west, so I wanted to try my hand at a western for several years. In addition to that, alternate history has always fascinated me, purely for the attraction of being able to shake up history and see what the world would have turned out like.
Before I started the Scarlet Star Trilogy, the two ideas had seemed unconnected – possibly two different book projects for the future. It all came together when I was inspired by history to create a magic system that revolves around drinking blood to evoke magical powers. In a flash, I realised I could combine all three ideas into one, and lo, the concept for Bloodrush was born!
Q. What did you most enjoy about writing Bloodrush?
Bloodrush gave me an opportunity to explore two new areas: a brand new and complex magic system, and faerie mythology. Both feature heavily in the Scarlet Star Trilogy and were great fun to mess around with.
The magic system, without trying to spoil the story, works on ingesting different types of blood to give a person a variety of magical abilities. It was a fun excuse to create a wide range of rules, magic types, and of course, have magic users clash with one another.
The infusion of Fae into Bloodrush also gave me an excuse to add a new dimension to the human world I created, to explore a whole new mythos, and, not to mention, twist that mythos into something new.
Q. Who is your favourite character in Bloodrush and why?
That’s got to be the sullen yet faithful Lurker, AKA John Hobble. He’s a veteran of the civil war that ripped through the Endless Lands, a gold-sniffing prospector, and knows no fear. He was the Rooster Cogburn to Bloodrush, the stoic gunslinger that is wilder than the Wild West around him.
Q. Can you tell us more about the second book, Bloodmoon, in the Scarlet Star Trilogy?
Bloodmoon continues the story of Merion Hark, the main character of the Scarlet Star Trilogy, as he continues his quest to avenge his father’s murder, and make his way home to the Empire and London.
It introduces more of the magic system, as well as one of my favourite groups of characters I’ve ever created – the performers of the notorious Cirque Kadabra.
Q. Your most recent series is called The Chasing Graves Trilogy, with book one titled Chasing Graves. It’s set in a world where ghosts are bound as slaves for the rich (which sounds amazing!). Can you tell us a bit more about this trilogy?
Of course! Chasing Graves is inspired heavily by Egyptian mythology, not only set in a North African world but set in a society that revolves around death.
In the colossal city of Araxes, ghosts can be bound after death as slaves for the rich and powerful. Seeking work and redemption, main character Caltro arrives in Araxes only to find himself swiftly murdered by soulstealers in an alleyway. What unfolds is a battle against the brutal society of the Arctian Empire, one that he will either claim justice from or serve for eternity.
Overall, Chasing Graves is a mix of epic fantasy and grimdark elements with multiple interconnected story arcs, and a balance of darkness and sharp wit.
Q. What writing projects are you currently working on / excited about?
I’m excited to be currently working back in my original fantasy world, the world of the Emaneska Series. I’m writing a sequel series called the Scalussen Chronicles, which is set decades after the finale of Emaneska. It feels really good to be back in this world, as it feels like I’m greeting old friends and treading old paths. I’ve got three books planned and I’m currently surging forward with book one, The Forever King.
Q. Where can readers find out more about you?
I can be found at my site www.bengalley.com, where you can get a free copy of The Written, or I’m usually hanging around on Twitter and Facebook at www.twitter.com/bengalley or www.facebook.com/bengalleyauthor.
Thank you, Ben! I definitely need to bump American Gods up my TBR list.
>>My debut novel, a grimdark epic fantasy called MELOKAI, is out now! Available from Amazon, Kobo, iBooks, Google Play Books, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. Read more about my books here.<<
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