freaks-anonI was a huge fan of Matt Darst’s first work ‘Dead Things’ and when I saw that he had a new novel coming out, I jumped on the chance to check it out. I had a chance to read the synopsis and only then realized that it was going to be a horror and superhero mashup. My two favorite genres in one? Clearly expectations were going to be high after such a strong first novel and I have to say – Darst didn’t disappoint.

In the book, we’re following the life of Centurion who is not by any stretch an A-List superhero. Sure, he has a sidekick but there is no team for him to work with. In fact, his life is so far in the dumps that he isn’t just sleeping in a van but has a pile of collection notices that is growing! With no fan base to speak of, he is the type of hero most looking to walk across the street to avoid than ask for his autograph.

If things don’t sound bad enough for our would-be hero, they soon get worse when his sidekick Henry is murdered.

The problem is that the death is ruled as an accident which means there will be no follow up into the killing. Centurion sees it as part of a pattern where children are being killed across the south and Midwest. Specifically children who have psychic and physical abilities. The future generation of upcoming superheroes is being snuffed out before they can grow to their full potential. Is it a superhero serial killer or someone trying to prevent the upcoming heroes from being able to save the world?

He won’t have to wait long as he trails his prime suspect through Chicago and she already appears to have her next 2 super powered individuals in her sight!

From creative characters to a likable hero that you can’t help but feel sorry for, there is some top notch character development at work here. Darst visits his stomping grounds in a way that would make anyone from Chicago feel at home while adding a fantasy world right on top of it with powered beings making life so different. Different, but still grounded in the reality of bills, death, and taxes.

Darst works his magic in horror once again, this time expanding into the realm of superheroes in an exciting mash-up that fans of both comic books and the paranormal are sure to enjoy! On a side note, Darst is donating all proceeds from the novel to Stand Up To Cancer (SU2C).

A true gem of a book for anyone who loves the superhero genre. It has the feel of grounded reality that Alan Moore made so famous with ‘The Watchmen’ but clearly told in its own unique voice.