The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

When you are all out of heroes, all that’s left are the villains.

Black Herran was a dread demonologist, and the most ruthless general in all Essoran. She assembled the six most fearsome warriors to captain her armies: a necromancer, a vampire lord, a demigod, an orcish warleader, a pirate queen, and a twisted alchemist. Together they brought the whole continent to its knees… Until the day she abandoned her army, on the eve of total victory.

40 years later, she must bring her former captains back together for one final stand, in the small town of Tarnbrooke – the last bastion against a fanatical new enemy tearing through the land, intent on finishing the job Black Herran started years before.

Seven bloodthirsty monsters. One town. Their last hope.

My Take:

I turned 45 while reading this book… My left hip hurts and stay-at-home orders haver done a number on my waist. I can’t say that I’m ready to fight! But Black Herran is. Yep, demonologists don’t really have that problem. She is ready to save her family and her town from the goodies…

Forty years after she left the battlefield to protect her daughter, a new threat, a pure and unsullied group of knights. Their own brand of tyranny… vs. Black Herran and her crew of baddies (a vampire, a demigod, a pirate queen, a crazy orc, an off-kilter alchemist, and a necromancer). I hate to simplify a story too much, but the book can be broken into parts… The past (who the heck is Black Herran?), the regroup (getting the band back together), the planning (I love a good siege defense:), and the fight (chaotic and bloooooooooody!). I found fun in each section. Grim and gruesome in atmosphere, lightning-quick in pacing, and the ending is quite unique…

My only gripe (a small one) would be that this is a stand-alone. I liked the world that Johnston put together… a good mix of so many of geographical areas, and quite a mashup of magic fun. I haven’t encountered a good vampire in a long, long time… and this one got me… I mean he really got Pandemic Paul! Ha!

At it’s heart The Maleficent Seven is a book that can be enjoyed at so many levels… as a homage to The Seven Samurai, as a grimdark gem, as a great Weekend Read , as a case study in bodily fluid ejection… It’s all good!

4.5 out of 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Angry Robot, and the author for an advanced copy for review.

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