“She pressed herself against Joe, but instead of human warmth,
she had to take what meager comfort she could from the rough, stone embrace of the golem.”
– Joe Golem and the Drowning City by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden
The collaboration between renowned artist/writer Mike Mignola (Hellboy) and insanely prolific novelist Christopher Golden has produced some extraordinary results in the past – namely Baltimore, or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire – so it comes as no surprise that their latest collaborative effort is equally unforgettable.
As the story unfolds, readers learn more about the horrific events surrounding Orlov’s birth, Church’s seeming immortality, and Joe’s mysterious origins – and it all culminates with a conclusion that would make H.P. Lovecraft proud. But this wildly entertaining illustrated novel is so much more than the sum of its parts – two things in particular should stand out for readers: the dark lyricism of the narrative and the heroic – and incredibly human – character of Joe Golem.
The steampunk and horror elements are powerful throughout but above all else this novel reads like an adult fairy tale, a dark fable. Like the drowned city of New York, this fluid storyline will submerge readers in its dreamlike narrative. Here’s an example from one of Joe’s dream sequences:
“Quiet spreads its wings across the water and through the bare woods behind him. In the distance to the south, along the bend in the river, he can see the light of lanterns and torches from the village, and as he drowns the witch he thinks of the tears of joy the girl’s mother will weep when he carries her home. Yet he does not kill the witches for gratitude or out of some sense of nobility. He kills them because they are witches, and killing them is his purpose… the very reason he has been made.”
Fans of Hellboy will absolutely love Mignola and Golden’s newest stone cold hero – and so will anyone who is interested in steampunk and/or alternate history.
Will Joe Golem become the next Hellboy? Only time will tell....
FYI: Joe Golem can also be found in a $0.99 e-story entitled Joe Golem and the Copper Girl, in which the (literally) hard-nosed detective tries to solve a mystery involving a strangely luminiscent 12-year old girl being threatened by a nightmarish creature.
Paul Goat Allen has been a full-time book reviewer specializing in genre fiction for the last two decades and has written thousands of reviews for companies like Publishers Weekly, The Chicago Tribune, Kirkus Reviews, and BarnesandNoble.com. He is a member of the National Book Critics Circle.
Keep up with all of my blogs – as well as all of Barnes & Noble’s exclusive reviews, authors interviews, videos, promotions, and more – by following @BNBuzz on Twitter!
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