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  • Writer's pictureLee Murray

The Medusa Gambit, a review

A friend recommended this book to me, and although my tbr list looks like a certain structure in Pisa, his recommendations have been spot on before. “It’s relatively short. Maybe 200 pages. A kind of fantasy,” he said. Well, I’ve been known to read a bit of fantasy and Rowan Casey’s The Medusa Gambit is all that. A fairy tale frolic for grown-ups, it’s populated with all the usual denizens: knights, giants, sirens, manticores, and curmudgeonly landlords, all thrown together in a wickedly fast madcap quest with more stakes than a garden centre. And while there’s no glass slipper, there’s definitely a touch of romance. Loosely speaking, The Medusa Gambit is a retelling of Pinocchio, where accompanied by his trusty squire Pip, the uninitiated pretender Sir Regis (Rex) sets out to prove himself as a real knight and a worthy heir to his legendary father. In terms of style, Casey is irreverent, pithy, and laugh out loud funny with the kind of punchy dialogue we expect from a crime paperback. And just so we feel at home, Casey even includes the seedy PI office with its sagging couch.

There are five other titles in this shared world series, and it looks like there are more coming, each stand-alone novel written by a bestselling author writing under the Casey pseudonym.  So the way I see it, the Veil Knight series is like a gathering of writers at Halloween, each of them putting on a costume, getting out of themselves and their genre, and having a bit of fun. The Medusa Gambit is great fun. Pure escapism. I highly recommend it.

Blurb: Rex Bishop, a perpetually down-on-his-luck P.I., has spent his life avoiding his father’s shadow, mostly by underachieving. Now that he’s learned his father is dead and he’s been tapped by Dante Grimm to help prevent an apocalypse of unimaginable proportions, he puts his meager skill set as a former mediocre boxer and low-rent investigator to the test in trying to find a missing artifact, a piece of metal that is purported to have been one of the nails from the Crucifixion. With the aid of a plucky young woman assigned to him as a Squire, Rex follows the trails where they lead, forced to battle creatures and powers he never dreamed existed, never quite certain what is real and what isn’t.

But Rex soon discovers that reality is a matter of perspective, and things are often not what they seem. He learns the artifact he’s tasked with finding is the not the true object of his quest at all, but merely a key that unlocks something that cannot easily be put back. With people supposedly on his side not being completely honest, and others who’ve tried to kill him now the ones warning him of dangers, Rex must navigate uncharted waters filled with mythical beasts and mystical forces, ultimately finding himself forced to engage in a contest older than recorded history, a competition of martial strategy where life and death are the lowest of the stakes, a game that Rex learns he must find a way to win, at any cost, or take all of humanity down with him in defeat.

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