08 August 2020

Review || Balthazar's Bane by Kat Ross


A bungled murder.

A ridiculous quest.
And a hero with extremely dodgy credentials.

Christmas 1889. Count Balthazar Jozsef Habsburg‎-Koháry tries to lead a simple life.

Oh, he enjoys a few hobbies.

Collecting ancient Egyptian artifacts. Hunting necromancers with a wire garrote. Impersonating dead Hungarian nobility. Seducing an endless string of women who never suspect the price of the count’s attentions.

But considering what Balthazar used to be like, these pursuits are harmless. And surely he deserves a reward for assassinating the elusive necromancer John Mortlake in the middle of Cairo’s teeming bazaar. What could be better than a holiday cruise up the Nile with his secretary Lucas Devereaux?

There’s just one thing that might ruin his mood.

If, for example, someone stole the talisman that’s kept him alive for two thousand years.

That would really suck.

Unfortunately for Balthazar, he just killed the wrong necromancer – one with a vengeful daughter and huge debts to some very shady djinn. To get his mojo back, he and Lucas must find a legendary sword and liberate a desert kingdom of magical misfits. For centuries, the people of Al Miraj have sought a valiant champion willing to face the wrath of the arch demon Fulad-zereh!

What they get is Balthazar.

But the gods always did like a good joke.

   

Balthazar's Bane is the 6th book in the Gaslamp Gothic and Kat Ross shows no sign of slowing down. This paranormal adventure series includes the previously reviewed on Cats Luv Coffee: A Bad Breed, The Necromancer's Bride, and Dead Ringer. With opulent settings and world traveling, the Gaslamp Gothic series is not one to miss!

When Balthazar kills necromancer John Mortlake, he sets a whole train of chaos into motion. Mortlake, who deservedly met his end though quite untimely, had a daughter and while that daughter had no lost love for the man, she also has the great misfortune of being told his debts are now hers. Those debts lead her to steal Balthazar's talisman, the very one that has allowed him his extra longevity. Needless to say, he wants it back. The not-so-merry chase ends Balthazar and thief Zarifa in the hands of a djinn in the kingdom of Al Miraj. 

As always, the world that Kat Ross creates is teeming with fantastical details. This time in Egypt from the Cairo bazaar to Nile cruise to mythical Al Miraj. There's a fabulous One Thousand and One Nights vibe going, especially from Al Miraj. The duality of the cursed kingdom, heaven by day and dark hell at night, was fascinating. While I was unfamiliar with the tale of Amir Arsalan, the demon Fulad-Zereh has a spell laid on her (him in the original tale) making her invulnerable to all weapons except one sword. While the original tale doesn't end so well for the witch and her offspring, the gender-swapping and roots in this bit of folklore made for an engaging read. 

Each of the Gaslight Gothic books follows a different character and though we've met Balthazar and Lucas before, we get a more intimate look at both characters this time around. Stalwart and level-headed, Lucas is a great counterweight to Balthazar's impulsivity and anger. Zarifa is rash and obviously a bit desperate, but she's smart and wily. She's the perfect foil for the immaculate and in control Balthazar. If you are looking for a happy ever after, you won't find it here—at least not yetbut the angst of the journey is completely worth it. 

Once again, Kat Ross has a winner here with the sixth offering of the Gaslamp Gothic series. The characters are always entertaining to get to know, the surroundings are lavish and sumptuous and the pacing is excellent. Balthazar's Bane ticks all the boxes for a delightful Victorian-era fantasy. 

Kat Ross worked as a journalist at the United Nations for ten years before happily falling back into what she likes best: making stuff up. She’s the author of the Fourth Element and Fourth Talisman fantasy series, the Gaslamp Gothic paranormal mysteries, and the dystopian thriller Some Fine Day. She loves myths, monsters and doomsday scenarios. Check out Kat’s Pinterest page for the people, places and things that inspire her books.

Be sure to visit the other stops on the tour!