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Deadly Drinks #1

Bones and Bourbon

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Retz Gallows has been possessed by an ancient necromancer for almost his entire life. He’s used to wicked schemes and body-stealing shenanigans, but waking up to a unicorn head in his passenger seat is a new low. Now he’s forced to carry out a gilded menagerie’s dirty deeds, but the task brings him face to face with the hope he’d long given up on: his older brother.

Jarrod Gallows left home to rescue Retz from possession. Instead, he’s saddled with a dead-end job as a paranormal investigator, a Faerie curse, and a daredevil boyfriend who might be from another world. At least he’s got a new case to keep himself busy—but why has his brother reappeared, and why does this sudden reunion feel more like a bane than a blessing?

To survive, the half-huldra Gallows brothers will have to escape the forces toying with their lives, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

468 pages, Paperback

First published April 23, 2018

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About the author

Dorian Graves

7 books21 followers
Dorian is the author of "Bones and Bourbon," first book in the urban fantasy "Deadly Drinks" series. Are you looking for a novel with body-hopping necromancers, gay relationships and transgender protagonists, otherworldly realms, families of supernatural beings, and the occasional carnivorous unicorn? You've found the right book!

Dorian Graves has also written a number of short stories, including "A Taste of Empty" and "The Ragabash Foxtrot," the two parts of Dorian's senior thesis, which earned Dorian a BA in English (Creative Writing emphasis) from Mills College in 2014. When not writing and calculating the perfect humor/horror ration in any given story, Dorian can be found exploring the woods, devising increasingly ridiculous World of Darkness campaigns, and possibly listening to more Blue Oyster Cult than is sane.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 49 reviews
Profile Image for Kirsty ❤️.
920 reviews45 followers
May 20, 2018
The blurb really sold me on this book. To be honest I was intrigued just by the notion of an angry unicorn. There’s a lot going on in this book and for the most part it’s enjoyable. It’s got quite a unique plot. I would have liked a bit more backstory for some of the characters and there were a lot of unanswered questions by the end but overall I quite enjoyed this

Free arc by netgalley
Profile Image for Nemo ☠️ (pagesandprozac).
858 reviews397 followers
May 22, 2019
i don't know if i just read this book at the wrong time, because due to whatever arcane and strange reasons of the spirit, occasionally you just aren't in the mood for a particular book at a particular time. this might have been the reason why i didn't connect with anything, or maybe we are just inherently incompatible for whatever reason.

the writing was alright, nothing stunning but not bad either, but i just couldn't connect with any of the characters. even at the very end, i just was overtaken by a supreme feeling of apathy. perhaps it was because i didn't really like the characters, and i didn't find them compelling. the setting and paranormal aspects were interesting, but also strangely confusing and higgedly-piggedly, and again, i couldn't vibe with them. it was as though everything was half-formed.

i was just disconnected throughout the whole book. it was kind of like an out-of-body experience, to be honest. i can feel the details fading from me by the minute. i probably won't remember a thing about this book in a week's time.

just underwhelming.
Profile Image for Kitty G Books.
1,548 reviews2,935 followers
October 4, 2020
*I read this as a judge for the #SPFBO*

This is an urban fantasy which I didn't expect to be as entertaining as it was. Normally urban, and especially bloody ones, aren't my thing unless they appel to a very specific criteria/humour, but this one grew on me and I ended up liking it a lot by the end.

We follow two brothers, they have not seen one another for the past 10 years but at the point we meet them they're close to an unexpected reunion as part of a mission gone awry. The first brother is Jarrod, the older, who is a supernatural fix-it man. He'll come to the rescue of any creatures in need and he has a strapping lover in tow. He is also a trans character (although having said that I can't say how well the trans is represented as it was mostly a minor part). He also has a secret curse on him which he got through mysterious means.
The other brother is Retz who is the younger and he's got another being who lives in him called Nalem. Nalem is trouble of the worst kind, he is savage, selfish and mean and only out for himself. He thinks of Retz as a vessel and takes over his body when he wants to inflict punishment/pain or do nasty or crazy things. Retz also has a power to manipulate bones, when combined with Nalem this is dangerous. They have their own personal struggles for power, but also they have to co-exist to make anything happen.

What I like about this story is it feels like there's a solid pace throughout and you're enjoying the journey of the characters and their plots. The adventures they have are funny and crazy and full of blood, fights and gore too, but they also have heartfelt moments and cheerful ones. I have to say I think that there has to be an honourable mention for Ferris who is Jarrod's human lover as he adds a lot of heartfelt moments and fun.

There was some concept art of the characters at the end of my version which I really liked though I wish it had been first so I could have imagined them that way. These were fun images to see after learning so much about the characters though.

There are quite a lot of typos and grammatical errors which need to be fixed, but with a strong edit I am confident this is a series to watch as this feels like a well polished idea and concept. I am certainly curious about where this will go next, and I think there's a lot of fun if you can get past the gore bits.

Overall, 3.75*s which is 7.5*s for #SPFBO.
Profile Image for J.P. Jackson.
Author 11 books135 followers
May 17, 2018
4.5 Stars

This is one tasty tale. Very dark, smeared with blood, riddled with violence and a portrayal of the Fae exactly as they should be; sinister and deadly - occasionally kind, but usually with an asking price. Of note - if you're a unicorn fan - buyer beware. These one horned wonders are deadly beasts, and our main characters dispose of them with deadly accuracy.

So what's it all about?

The story sways back and forth between two brothers, Jarrod and Retz. Both are Fae born, being half human and half Huldra.


What the hell is a Huldra? Here, read this: http://spangenhelm.com/huldra-folklor...

Exactly. Extra credit points to Graves. Whenever I pick up a book promising tales of Fae creatures we are usually treated to the normal fare: Elves, Faeries, Gnomes, and Trolls - the creatures we have come to be familiar with. We are also quite often treated to werewolves, vampires, ghosts, and witches. And there's nothing wrong with that - but that's not this book. This is all new kids. This takes Fae creatures from vastly different cultures than ours and plants them squarely into our world. My ignorance of such beings gave this novel a surprising amount of 'newness'.

Ever heard of Furaribi? Well, I hadn't either! Turns out, they are Japanese in origin. Have a look: http://yokai.wikia.com/wiki/Furaribi

I was completely smitten with this aspect of the book. Finally, something completely different. And so clever! As Hulderkind these two brothers have genetic traits that mark them as not being human, but also not entirely Fae either. For instance, Jarrod - well, he's got brute strength, a tail, and heals remarkably fast, but he retained all of his inner organs - oh, and he's Transgender too. His brother, on the other hand, Retz is hollow, like his mother - although he does have a skeleton - but doesn't have the tail. He is even more remarkable in that he plays host to another creature. That's right, Retz is possessed. And what makes it even more interesting, is that Nalem, the King of Bones, can take over Retz's body and that's where the whole tale starts.

Retz wakes up after his possessor releases him, only to find himself driving a car, with a Unicorn head (that's still alive) bouncing around in the passenger seat. Never mind the Unicorn is trying to kill him. That's beside the point.

The whole book is like this. Steeped with twisted creatures, attempting to do the impossible tasks - like taking down a lamia and her menagerie of Fae captives - all while trying to satisfy the brother's father, Alexander, who sometime in the past, gave up his humanity and became Fae - a plant-based creature.

The novel is written with gorgeous visuals, bizarre twists, and at times is as gruesome as the original Grimm's Fairy Tales. Imagine a train created out of flesh and blood, lacking a brain, and regularly spraying blood from a split vein? After all, it's creator is Nalem's sister, Vairi, who is Bloody Mary.

If you're on the prowl for different, check this out! And it looks like Graves is making a cluster out of this as Bones and Bourbon is book number one in the Deadly Drinks series.

Well done!
Profile Image for Trio.
2,931 reviews171 followers
May 25, 2018
That's one of the coolest covers I've seen in a long time, and I'll admit I grabbed it because the cover grabbed me. Loved the title as well.

First off, I'm just going to say that this isn't the type of book I usually read. I'm afraid I was lost most of the time, wondering what was going on and if I was missing something. The book was beautifully written and perfectly edited so the fault is my own, and not the author's.

If you enjoy fantasy, mystical creatures, high adventure, and lots and lots of descriptions of kinda gruesome stuff, then this is the book for you.

this book was provided to me by NetGalley for the purpose of this review
Profile Image for Maraya21 (The Reading Dragon).
1,553 reviews228 followers
July 22, 2020
🌈 Picked read for the 2019 Unleash The Mods™ (UTM™) challenge over at Maraya's Cave Of Freaking Wonders -- Pick: Maraya | Month: October 🌈

4.5 Stars

★★ Note: The book was re-released on May 2020, not sure if there are any changes in the new book or not. I read the original version/edition of this book and my rating is for that. ★★


Pre-Review Thingy:

Half-huldra Retz Gallows is having an awful day. First, he wakes up in the middle of driving to who-knows-where with an angry unicorn head in his passenger seat. This is almost normal, thanks to a lifetime of sharing a body with Nalem, a bone-controlling spirit with a penchant for wicked schemes and body-stealing joyrides.


This day’s going to get worse for the Gallows brothers before it gets better. To survive, they’ll have to escape the forces controlling them, as well as the wrath of carnivorous unicorns, otherworldly realms, and even their own parents. Only time will tell if they’ll make it out alive…or sober.

Shut up and take my money! #angry_unicorns
Profile Image for Dreamer.
499 reviews7 followers
April 19, 2018
3.5 stars - A well-written humorous action adventure! 'Bones and Bourbon' begins with two seemingly separate quests which reunite the Gallows brothers before long; though with opposing goals. Various supernatural creatures are featured in this hysterically funny tale of the brothers' misadventures.

Perfect for fans of Christopher Moore!

Look for 'Bones and Bourbon' releasing April 23rd.

I voluntarily read a Review Copy of this book. All opinions stated are solely my own and no one else’s. Read more reviews! http://dreamerjbookreviews.blogspot.com
Profile Image for Shirley .
1,879 reviews56 followers
May 20, 2018
The cover caught my eye (honest, that NEVER happens) so I decided to give a new author and publisher a try. Happy to say I was pleasantly surprised. ;)

First, I’m not a “book cover” reader, but honestly, the cover on this book definitely got my attention. Enough that I took a chance on a new author. (The synopsis was a pretty good draw for me too 😉 ) I’m happy to say that this is one time that a cover definitely lived up to the book.

I had no idea what to expect from Bones and Bourbon, but needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised. From the very first chapter, the mystery and action didn’t stop. Not only that, the world building was as much a part of the story as the characters involved.

Part of the reason why I’m drawn to PNR is my love of mythology and it seems that the Deadly Drink series will be full of mythological creatures and legends. The twists that Dorian Graves has added to her take on some familiar creatures was more than interesting. Blood thirsty unicorns for example.

Family is a strong force in Bones and Bourbon as well and there were times that it was hard to tell if the brothers were working for or against each other. There were twists and turns that had my head spinning, danger, mystery and a little bit of romance thrown into the mix – all of it thrown together to keep the pages turning.

It wasn’t clear from the end of Bones and Bourbon, but I was more than a little excited that this book was just the beginning of series. A series that I can’t wait to continue. I can’t wait to see what the Gallows brothers – and company – get into next.

I received Bones and Bourbon in exchange for a fair and honest review.
Profile Image for Natalie .
2,346 reviews32 followers
April 20, 2018
Received from Netgalley, this one jumped ahead of 10 other books so first impression was damn good from the blurb. The title jumps out and there’s a lot going on in the cover artwork. So yeah I happily jumped to read this one. From the words attacker and unicorn head, I was hooked. Nalem had me in stitches and that was only the first chapter. The plot is genius and the character creation more so. Nalem the psychopath stuck in another body. Retz hi-jacked and stuck with the fallout, Jarrod the hunter brother and his amnesiac boyfriend Farris. Each one brought more than their own share to the story. Immediately I loved Nalem and Retz. Jarrod took a bit of getting used to since he was classic drunk and his gender confused me for a while. But by the end I felt the same about all four.

I loved how many unicorns died in this story. My mom loves em so everywhere I look damn unicorn stuff. The bone thing was awesome. Creepy but awesome. I don’t think there was a single thing I didn’t like about this story. Strong themes of family and estranged relationships between parent and child. Plenty of violence, crossing, double crossing and strangeness. The harvester was my second favourite character. I wanted to see what Erika would do to Nalem. A lot of unanswered questions so really hoping there is more. Even better than I expected.
Profile Image for M.D..
Author 14 books110 followers
June 20, 2018
It was good.

There ya go.


Okay, I’m sure you want more than that. As I mentioned this was a great book and a wonderful story. I wasn’t sure what to expect when read the story. Well, that’s not true, I had an idea from the blurb and from chatting with the author, but still I didn’t know what kind of writing or story telling I would get. I ended up pleased. The story focuses on the Gallows brothers (Retz and Jarrod) who have not seen each other for at least ten years. Their paths are different until one day their two very different circumstances force them together. All kinds of hell breaks loose from that point forward and we get to learn more about the brothers. Their lives. Their Families. And who or what is pulling the strings. It’s clever and a lot of fun to read.

Graves introduces characters that are fresh and new. Her take on familiar beasts is exciting and new. Unicorns will forever change after you read this story. Regarding her characters what I enjoyed about them were how well developed they were. Graves introduces a Trans character in the story and in the scope of the story it’s no big deal (which I love) this part of the character just is and no one seems to care, which is how it should be. Even the villains in, Bones and Bourbon, were more than mustache twirling generic archetypes (which you all know I love and adore), but for this story it was refreshing.

I would call this a dark fantasy, not horror, but there are some gruesome parts in the book. These scenes are nothing that will cause nightmares, but they offer enough to make you cringe. This is also a story that anyone (by anyone I mean tweens to sassy seniors) can read and enjoy. There is nothing in this story that will set off any reader or enjoyer of Dark Fantasy.

There was one thing about the story I wish Graves had done a better job with. At one point, the characters are in San Francisco and given how colorful a city San Francisco is I would have liked more time spent on describing the city and showing that unique flare. Graves, and by extension the characters, refer to the Tenderloin and Golden Gate Park but otherwise this location could have been Seattle, Victoria, Vancouver, San Diego, or any other city on the waterfront. So that was a little disappointing especially with how grounded the rest of the story was, especially in the settings.

In all fairness, I wish I could give this story a 4.5 but I cannot. So, I’m going to round up and give it 5 stars. This this was a brilliant story by an amazing author.

You need to check out this book!
Profile Image for Devann.
2,433 reviews131 followers
June 2, 2018
I received an ARC copy of this book from NetGalley

This is probably more of a 2.5 but I rounded up to a 3 because it definitely feels wrong to give it 2 stars. I think most of my ambivalence towards this story comes from the fact that I read a lot of urban fantasy and also a lot of stories with brothers/siblings as the main characters so I guess this just didn't stand out in a lot of ways when compared to other things I've read. Both of the brothers are decent enough characters and I didn't dislike either of them, but I never really connected them on a deeper level either. The story is interesting and fast paced, and while I did feel like there was maybe too much going on at some points I also appreciated that it featured several creatures you don't really see a lot of in mainstream urban fantasy books. It's an okay story and really good for a debut novel, but I'm not really invested enough to read a sequel if there ever is one.
Profile Image for LOLA.
311 reviews2 followers
May 4, 2018
What a different type of paranormal book.
Well written. Main character is Retz. He has a powerful entity sharing his body. Not a comfortable relationship. But they make do.
Their power is to manipulate bones. They have a quest. The whole story is well done with a cast of secondary characters.
Lots of magic. Some mystery. No sexual tension. But a great tale.
Reads somewhat like a folklore tale.
An interesting story. Liked the whole concept.
(Given a copy for an honest review)(NetGalley) (Thanks)
Profile Image for RavenAngels.
74 reviews7 followers
June 10, 2018
A copy of the book was provided to me in exchange for an honest review

Sooo, this book was really hard to rate.

The writing is good and draws you into the book, +points for a Trans-Character, unusual supernatural creatures, disfunctional family drama, mysteries for days, not a romance!,..

It reminded me a bit of 'Supernatural', which only makes sense in which there are two brothers and a bunch of supernatural beings and they try to save people/the world/.. it's still not entirely clear.

However this book has more mysteries than answers to them and you're left with quite a lot of questions by the end of the book. Also fair warning: it ends in a HFN at best. I truly hope this was only the first book in a series and there will be some more books with a lot more answers! Also for what ever reason I thought there would be, there's no romance in the book.

The book is told from the perspectives of two brothers, alternating between Retz and Jarrod Gallows. Wich is really well done! Pov. changes are seamlessly; other authors may take notes!

The story begins with Retz waking up in his car being attacked by a severed unicorn head! How did it get there? Why is it severed? And why is it attacking, aren't they supposed to be fluffy and poop rainbows?- That would be the questions running through my head in a similar situation. Not Retz however- turns out weirder stuff has happended. Business as usual, or rather flow with the punches, deal with the situation, ask questions later. Because Retz shares (not entire willingly) his body with Nalem, whom can take over his body for joy rides (literally) and when bored or tired or just for fun returns control back to Retz to deal with the aftermath of whatever he managed to cook up now.

Nalem is a Necromancer. Possibly something more. He regards himself as a god, with no humor what so ever. Unfortunately he's a bit of a psychopath, in my humble opinion. Because Jarrod accidentally? destroyed something of Nalems as a little child, he tries to torture Jarrod whenever he can.

Jarrod is Retz older brother. They are (half)Hulderkind. Which look in appearance similar to humans, but with a cow tail and a hole in the back. Oh and they're entirely hollow, no organs and heal real fast. Though since both are only half huldras means Retz has a skeleton and Jarrod organs.

The two are estranged. Because when they were little and the family realized that one of their kids was body-sharing with a psychopath, father and little Jarrod venture out into the world to find a cure and haven't been heard of since.
When Jarrods childhood is mentioned, he's referred to as a girl. Whith all the mystery going on, this had me wondering how and why. Untill I realized that Jarrod is Trans. Yes, I can be an idiot sometimes ^^
Jarrods father is not in this wold any longer and so it is up to Jarrod to save people from supernatural creatures gone rogue. On his quest he met a slightly whacky stranger with amnesia, whom is tagging along and 'helping' in his own way.

Farris is a loveable wackadoodle with no memories but as it turns out plenty of skills and a penchant for stealing cars. Lots of cars. When he and his boyfriend are on a job to help two Furaribis on the run from a lamia which wanted to showcase them in her menagerie, they stumble upon Retz. Who for some reason is being chased by violent unicorns...

And that sentence pretty much summs up the essence of the book.

Buckle up, it gets weird. But good. And also psychos.

Profile Image for Rambling Reader.
410 reviews61 followers
May 22, 2018
Bones & Bourbon is a twisted family tale. Estranged brothers, Retz and Jarrod Gallows find their paths crossing in a twist of fate. The very people that Jarrod and his boyfriend have been charged to protect are the very people whose freedom Retz is supposed to end.

Plus, when your younger brother is possessed by a centuries old entity who has a taste for mayhem and shady moral values, family fun tends to get a bit awkward...real quick.

I liked both Retz and Jarrod though I found it quite easy to dislike their father, Alexander. While Retz and Jarrod both have their own moral codes that I could reconcile with, I just felt like Alexander was lacking something to make me warm up to him.

Jarrod is the older brother who's been forced to take up his father's mantle. Thanks to dear old dad, he has to take up any supernatural mission that he's offered- whether he wants to or not. Jarrod is a character with a lot of layers. He loves his family, but he hasn't had an easy time connecting with them. He cares about his boyfriend, but his family issues get in the way of his relationship, making him more secretive than is healthy, and building up walls when he really needs to learn to let someone in instead. Not only Jarrod gay, but he's also transgender. Graves incorporates this into the story line quite casually, to the point where I had to reread a line or two in order to make sure I hadn't missed something. I liked that there was a transgender character who had a purpose; Jarrod isn't just there to be "the transgender one." He has the opportunity to be complex.

Retz is in an intriguing predicament. He shares his body with an entity called Nalem, who has no shortage of snark, supernatural knowledge, and morbid power. Unfortunately for Retz, Nalem isn't just a passive passenger; he can actually take full control of Retz's body, acting and speaking however he wishes. Nalem's dark nature has driven a wedge between Retz, Jarrod, and their father.

The plot was pretty easy to follow, and there's enough world-building to help the reader make sense of what's going on. The chapters are told from both Retz and Jarrod's points of view, so we get a glance into both of their minds, usually something that I enjoy. The pacing was faster in the beginning, but it started to slow down in the second half. Overall, it was interesting enough for me to follow through, but I'm not sure that I was grabbed enough to keep going with a sequel.
Profile Image for Sibil.
1,277 reviews61 followers
May 31, 2018
Thanks to NetGalley and to the editor. I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The cover was good and the synopsis sounded interesting so I couldn’t resist and I had to request it on NetGalley, and I am really really happy that I got approved because I loved this book and I will read the next ones.

First thing first, I loved the originality. This book is original in many ways, it’s original its folklore, for example, because the author wrote an urban-fantasy with characters that are not the typical vampire or were-animal, or fae or demon, but he chooses some others magical beings, like huldra, furaribi and akaname. Yes, we have some creatures that are more known, but mostly we have not so commonly known beings, and this thing was great!

And this book is original for its characters. Not only for their race, but just for who they are. Or sort of, anyway. The main character, Retz is quite a normal guy, if not for his being half huldra, and for the guest in his head: Nalem. This pair remembers me of Shins and Olgun, in a grittier way, and I loved it! I haven’t loved all of it, because sometime Nalem is too much, especially when we’re speaking about his relationship with Jarrod (Nalem, come on!) but it’s an interesting character and it’s quite the mysterious guy. There are so many answers to be had about his past and his motivations that I am hooked up and I really hope to read more book about him (and Retz and Jarrod).
Jarrod is another interesting character, and I liked him even if I really felt sorry for him during the reading. Also, he’s a transgender character and he’s quite well developed, as far as I can tell. He’s not a stereotype and I really liked it.
Jarrod and Retz are brothers and are the main characters, but we have a lot of secondary characters that are interesting and well developed. Some of them are quite interesting, like Nalem’s father (OMG! Nalem’s father is really something! And he made me laugh! I think he was my favorite!). Also… all Nalem’s family is quite peculiar. I’ll pay to witness one of their family reunions!
And we have carnivorous and really strong-headed unicorns. And yes… you have read it right… carnivorous unicorns.

The story is fast-paced, there aren’t a lot of plot twists, yes, but it’s a really good characters driven book, with interesting ideas, snarky dialogues, and dark humor. And there are so many unanswered questions that, in the end, you would want the next one ASAP. I appreciated the unconventional take on the mythology, the unconventional set of characters and the highly imaginative world that the author creates for us!
Profile Image for Selina.
333 reviews
October 14, 2018
Wow, this was a crazy and fun trip!
Aggressive unicorns, huldras and hollows with no internal organs, faerys, undead, curses, snakelike lamia, japanese furaribi and the Harvester. What have I gotten into?
The answer is simply put: a darn good adventure.
The author kept me interested from page one until the very end. The writing was fluent and fun. There were so many (actual) mythological creatures to explore and I was glad the author kept reminding me who had internal organs and who didn't and how that affected the characters thoughts and actions. This was really well done. Same goes for worldbuilding and continuity.
I loved the cast of characters and the dynamics between them! What a crazy family the Gallows are, mother is a huldra, father an undead plant faery, hairdesser and bonebreaker Retz has a necromancer in his head and hunter Jarrod has a lot of personal issues. Farris was also adorable, he often made me laugh with his comments and doings. But the most intriguing character for me was Nalem. He had a lot of facets - as expected from an thousand years old necromancer -and I enjoyed that.
Retz being named after an austrian city was a nice extra. Is it really that obvious he has a german name? He should be lucky his parents didn't marry in Böheimkirchen or Afterbach. :D

I very much enjoyed reading "Bones and Bourbon" and I will be back for more.
Profile Image for Joyfully Jay.
7,386 reviews419 followers
May 30, 2018
A Joyfully Jay review.

4.25 stars

The blurb for Bones and Bourbon immediately had me requesting the book for review. Dorian Graves successfully manages to build a unique urban fantasy world, introducing originally created beings within a story, which at its heart, is about familial love.

Retz and Jarrod alternately narrate Bones and Bourbon and Graves is able to give them both individual personalities and voices. Jarrod is the more selfless of the two, although he is not without his flaws, an alcohol problem being one of them. Just like Retz is never without Nalem, Jarrod is emotionally attached to his human boyfriend, Farris. For me, Farris was a great addition to the story because his recklessness is endearing and his humor is, at times, much needed! It is definitely a change to read a story in which there is an established relationship and this is the only romance that Graves includes within Bones and Bourbon. This does not mean that the story has lots of sex. There is, in fact, none. Jarrod is also transgender. In one scene, Jarrod is captured and tied naked to an examination table and Graves conveys how difficult an experience this is for him.

Read Kirsty’s review in its entirety here.

Profile Image for Colin Hardy.
220 reviews7 followers
May 12, 2018
This is certainly one of the most bizarre books I have read. The characters and world building are quite unique as is the plot...I think. It is this latter that makes the book difficult to get into. It is as though the story is missing several chapters or another book at the start. Characters appear fully formed with no clear backstory. Their actions the reader needs to make sense of as they go along. Sometimes you can and sometimes you either have to go with the flow or give up. Each of the characters has unique characteristics and none of them are fully human.

The flow of control alternates by chapter between the two brothers, although their relationship and point of view only really start to make a little sense when they come together. The timeline is mostly linear although there are periods of parallelism. As such the plot moves forward. One of the brothers is transgender although the reader doesn't get to know how far along this process is despite the mention of historical hormone replacement. He has a boyfriend but their intimacy is not even hinted at.

For the vast majority of the book, either 'beings' are imposing their will on or abusing the central characters or vice versa. There is some limited caring but largely the story is emotion-free.

The plot and its associated action points are generally well-paced and there is always something going on. The story consists of a series of goals, obvious or otherwise, that the lead characters need to achieve. They do this in both mundane locations as well as those that are clearly otherworldly. The writing is clear and approachable which is a key point in its favour.

At the end of the book, there is a partial resolution of themes, but there is so much that is unexplained or incomplete that it would suggest that there will be a sequel.
Profile Image for Jonathan Pongratz.
Author 4 books179 followers
July 25, 2018

This was the first book I read of Dorian Graves. I saw the cover on Ninestar Press's site and couldn't resist buying. Like the cover suggested, this book was quite the adventure!

Huldra brothers Jarrod and Retz haven't seen each other in nearly a decade, but when fates brings them together, they are forced to confront a number of supernatural threats together or die trying.

This book was all about the imagery. I mean, man, it was VIVID! The landscapes, creatures, characters, even the villains were all very unique and original. I liked how real the characters felt. They each had their own perception as far as what was going on. I especially liked Farris and Jarrod's relationship, and Aimi is a close second favorite.

That being said, I did have a fair amount of difficulty with other aspects of this book. While the world was striking and beautiful, there was a lot going on. I mean, you will be thrust into this world, and at just over 250 pages, this book tends to speed through some vital information that could help the reader progress along. I don't mind being kept in the dark for a while, but there were certain parts of the book that frustrated me a little bit because things simply weren't explained and never were even by the end.

I also feel that how Nalem interacts with Retz wasn't 100% clear, but again, for sake of not spoiling anything, I will leave it at that.

Overall, I really enjoyed this brief journey into a dangerous, merciless world where a family that kills together, stays together.
1,904 reviews3 followers
June 12, 2018
A Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words review

Rating: 4.75 Stars out of 5

For the full review, visit https://wp.me/p220KL-dQi

From that review: What a startling fantasy story Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves turned out to be.  Dark, incredibly imaginative, not always enjoyable (trust me), with a universe so full that it needs more information to be complete in its foundation, and characters that both stymy and border on the profound,  this novel will leave you muttering and loving it long after you have turned off the Kindle.

For all our reviews, check out http://scatteredthoughtsandroguewords...
Profile Image for Courtney.
144 reviews
May 17, 2018

I received a copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

Bones and Bourbon has an exciting, enthralling concept and absolutely excels in its execution: from the dynamic opening scene right to the last page. The writing is well paced, with an engaging style throughout; practically every line of exposition presents the intended information about the world and cast in an interesting way. The world building was just the right amount to display fascinating settings but not to overwhelm and take away from the characters.

I loved the different character perspectives and the way they came together when the brothers reunited; each individual enough that the reader knows who they're following at all times, but remaining consistent complementary to each other. The family dynamics overall, especially Retz and Jarrod themselves and their complicated situation and perspectives on it, were some of the most potent parts of the book. The dialogue and character interactions in general were incredibly well written: I loved reading about Aimi and Isamu's sibling relationship in contrast to Retz and Jarrod's, and it was a joy to read basically any scene with Farris in.

The character’s journeys and development, both individually and in pairs and ultimately as a group overall, were so consistently strong and solid that I can’t even pick one scene to give an example of it where I thought it was at its best. My personal favourite scene was one in Jarrod’s perspective where he and Farris had to confront mirror images of themselves: I absolutely loved what the scene said about their pasts, presents and fears, and how their interactions were framed by the chilling scenario.

Dorian Graves has a blog post with art of the characters and some background information about the book and various creatures featured in it, which I marked to have a closer look at after my second read, and it was so fascinating to read about certain characters and concepts and how that came through in the story.

This book really meant a lot to me, and I enjoyed every moment I was reading it. I read it a second time before writing this review to help me decide what I wanted to write about here and which line to write in calligraphy to go with it, and I enjoyed it just as much the following time and will definitely be revisiting it again in the future. A brilliant, genuine story with a lot of heart, and I’m so glad to have had the experience of reading it.

Review originally posted on my blog.
Profile Image for Madison Keller.
Author 30 books23 followers
November 11, 2019
This book is a treat. The two point of view characters are the Gallows brothers, who haven't seen each other in about ten years, since they were kids. Their father's machinations from behind the scene send their paths colliding together near the start of the book. I read a lot, but this story managed to keep me on my toes.

In order to help two Furaribi (Phoenix-like creatures) get away from a Lamia zoo, the brothers have to face down fairie, their father, and a pack of murderous unicorn. And hopefully help the older brother's boyfriend get back his lost memories at the same time.
Profile Image for Susan Anne.
585 reviews2 followers
May 1, 2018
I received a copy of Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves via IndiGo Marketing & Design in exchange for an honest review. In many respects, this book is a classic Grimm Brothers fairy tale in that the fairies are monsters and the intent is a cautionary tale. I especially enjoyed Graves giving us interesting paranormal creatures, with nary a werewolf or vampire in sight. This includes Retz and Jerrod, who are huldrakind, half huldra and half human, and both have a penchant for finding trouble. They encounter not just a literal zoo of strange creatures, but other realities too, none of which is benign. As in some fairy tales, there are quests and evil creatures to defeat. I also liked the spectrum of sexual orientations among the various characters. All of this is quite entertaining and even funny at times. As in Grimm, the story does not have a HEA, but none of our favorite characters gets killed, at least not permanently (not really a spoiler).
Profile Image for The Novel Approach.
3,073 reviews135 followers
June 15, 2018
I’m going to start this one with, if you are looking for a romantic tale with a paranormal plot, this book won’t fit that bill. Though Jarrod does have a boyfriend, Farris, there is no real physical intimacy between them except for some captured moments of cuddles and intimate conversations. But if you are looking for something unlike anything I personally have read before? Read on.

What is this story, then? I honestly don’t know how to describe it for all its individuality, but I’ll do my best without giving too much of the plot away.

Everything that happens here is one gigantic chess game with a ton of different players. Jarrod, Farris, Retz, and Nelam are at the center but are joined by a brother and sister, Aimi and Isamu. They are being moved, pushed, and forced into situations and directions for purposes unformed. I still can’t quite figure out the Harvester, Alexander or the other characters’ schemes, or the end result of everything, but I can tell you that this has got to be the set up for a series because it if isn’t, this story itself is incomplete. There are so many threads and half revealed pieces of the puzzle that remain lingering, as though the story is only at its beginning. It doesn’t end on a cliffhanger, but it does leave so many questions and aspects unresolved. It all seemed to me an introduction to the different players and what could be driving them, but not really showing its hand at the larger picture.

Everything that happens in Bones and Bourbon is set in a moral gray area. Jarrod and Retz aren’t exactly the good guys or the bad guys. Both are bound by circumstances they didn’t have a choice in andare trying to straddle the line of doing right, even if it means doing wrong to get there. But ideas of right and wrong are skewed by their life experiences and influences.

Told in alternating POVs from the brothers, Retz and Jarrod, it is clear that they are both messed up guys. Retz is essentially a slave to Nelam and his machinations, as Nelam has been a constant companion in his head and has had control over his body for as long as he can remember. Nelam, who is an enigma in and of himself, has wreaked havoc on Retz’s ethical compass. Jarrod is controlled by his curse. Unlike Retz, Jarrod genuinely seems a caring, if mistrustful, individual, but is repeatedly put into situations and forced to behave in a way that is morally wrong to him. How does he deal? He drinks. A lot. And keeps everyone, including Farris, at a distance.

Jarrod and Retz are extremely flawed. One is borderline sociopathic in his thoughts and actions, while the other is an alcoholic who knows he is and has no plans to change it. I was more sympathetic to Jarrod, as he seemed to be doing his best with what little free will he had. Retz was a little harder; his personality has been molded by Nelam’s influence. Though he has managed to maintain some sort of emotion and feel regret for Nelam’s actions at times, he is also jaded by his life and his occupant, choosing to roll with it since fighting it results in nothing good for him—and often those around him. He acknowledges he is a freak, and his thoughts on death and taking life are far from the norm, but he accepts there isn’t much that can be done. But then there are moments he does seem effected and does his best to resist. Those are the moments that made Retz’s character stand out for me.

Nelam…. I honestly don’t even know how to describe how I feel about him. His character’s schemes and personality set a huge basis for all the pieces of this adventure, and there is definitely a much larger plotline where he is concerned. There were times when it seemed he genuinely cared for Retz, in his own odd way. But then he managed to completely blow me away with the level of violence and abuse he is able to inflict for his “cause”, and how he explained his actions as justified. He is an enigma. I want to know more, to find out what happened to create such a hardened and cruel individual who also has moments of softness and understanding.

The brothers are apart for a decade, so the reader picks up somewhere in the middle of where it really all began. What starts out as seemingly two different missions leads them back to one another, and events unfold from there. As the story develops, details are revealed as to what occurred to split them apart and how the chain of events thus far has led them to where they are. They have distance in their relationship, and it continues to be there due to their circumstances individually as well as the outside influences treating them as pawns. There is distrust, and rightfully so, yet they do seem to want to save each other. I wouldn’t say there is a lot of emotion between the two (or really anyone) except for doubt, anger and mistrust. Farris seems to be the only one of the four who is capable of showing true caring and support. For that I adored Farris, as he added a lightheartedness to an otherwise dour group, but he is not exactly what he seems either, as more is revealed about him—not a lot but just enough to whet the appetite.

Though there is humor, the story as a whole is definitely on the darker side. It is compelling and kept me on the edge of my seat. The world building is amazing, with a host of supernatural creatures that are rarely used and an interesting take on their abilities and personalities. Unfortunately, it seems the supernatural world is filled with a lot of jerks.

If I had one complaint, it’s that most of the characters don’t have much of an emotional connection. There is some slipped in here and there, but it’s not fully developed, just stolen moments or thoughts. However, there are hints and bonds forming, and through this particular adventure the brothers are reestablishing themselves and getting to know one another again. So, if this is a series (and as I stated previously, it really needs to be) my hope is that more and more of those connections and positive emotions towards one another will make themselves present.

I’ll admit Bones and Bourbon won’t be for everyone. This isn’t a romance. Though there is humor, it is not a comedy. Or for some maybe it could be, but it would to be me classified as a dark comedy. Some of the characters are cruel and abusive. The imagery is gritty and gruesome and sometimes flat out gross. BUT!!!! If you want a wild ride, one you don’t know what is going to happen, one that takes you to surprising places with unique characters who are fleshed out and interesting, one that is amazingly well written with its descriptions, and one that is mostly dark with an unexpected lightness within its conversations, situations and character traits, give it a go. It was quite the journey that I couldn’t seem to put down, and I definitely am up for what happens next with these guys.

Reviewed by Lindsey for The Novel Approach
Profile Image for Ulysses Dietz.
Author 13 books618 followers
July 14, 2018
Bones and Bourbon
By Dorian Graves
Ninestar Press, 2018
Four stars

I can’t remember what got me to buy this book, but it was a surprise as I read it. Fast-paced, carefully crafted, “Bones and Bourbon” is the first in what promises to be an action-packed series of highly surreal paranormal urban fantasies.

Retz Gallow is not fully human. Plus, he’s possessed by an ancient being called Nalem, and has been since he was a baby. His brother Jarrod and his father Alexander decamped when Retz was a little boy, leaving him and his mother, Ericka, on their own in small-town Washington.

Retz is a hairdresser by training, but Nalem takes him on adventures whether he wants to go or not. This time around, the bizarre arc of his travels will end in a reunion with his long-lost brother and his brother’s charmingly amoral boyfriend, Farris. Who, by the way, is a terrible driver.

There’s a lot here, and it’s very well done. It’s all a little violent for my taste, but I loved the way Graves shatters various sugar-coated mythologies related to things like fairies and unicorns. She also has a trans man as one of the central characters and does it very well. This, being the inaugural book of a series, has a lot of revelation within, and I found that quite satisfying, even though all of the questions aren’t answered, drawing us to the book that awaits us. Graves is onto something, indeed.
Profile Image for Katie.
600 reviews13 followers
May 18, 2018
Thank you to Netgally and NineStar Press for the e-arc!

3.5 stars

TW: Alcoholism (the character in question never takes steps to cut back, which is fine by me since that isn't what the book is about, but I know that would bother some other readers)

I requested this book purely because the premise snagged my attention. One of my favourite troupes(?) is when some entity shares a body with a human, and this is the situation with one of the two main POVs in the story, and I was totally into it. (however, as it goes on, this also has one of my least favourite troupes, so you win some you loose some)

I will say, I enjoyed the first 60% of this book more than the latter half. The plot went in a direction that made me loose interest when I was so invested for the first 60%. Also, this looks like a standalone, but a lot is left hanging, which I don't mind to a certain extent, but the author went out of their way to keep certain details in the dark.


I loved the characters. The six main characters all had strong and distinctive personalities. My favourites being Nalem and Farris (though I did have an issue with his background, which I explained in a previous spoiler tag), but I enjoyed reading about them all. I wished we saw Isamu more, but his whole thing was that he was grouchy and quiet, and his sister took more of the limelight in the story.

However, as the book neared the middle and end, I much preferred Retz's POV over Jarrod's. His thought process was more interesting, and while you get more of Farris (Jarrod's boyfriend) in Jarrod's POV, it didn't make up for how intriguing Nalem (the demon creature in his head) was.


As I mentioned, I loved like the first 60% of the plot. It was hitting all the right marks and I was ready for this to be a 4/4.5 star book. The characters were interesting and their interactions had enough tension to keep me reading and wondering were it would go.

Once the plot moved to a new destination it all became too much. This short book became too crowded with too many ideas, and the plot took a lot of turns that were unsatisfying for me personally.

It also ended in a way that left us knowing that there would be more to tell, but I'm not sure if this will ever be continued in a later novel (which I would be interested in reading).


It was nice that this book focused on more obscure mythical creatures, and took a twist on the traditional definition of a unicorn (even if I thought they showed up one or two times too many).

However, as mentioned with the plot, as the book went on, it tried to tackle too many clashing mythical creatures, and it made this book messier than it should've been.


This was a fun book with a lot of great ideas and characters, but tried to do too much in a short period of time. If this ever gets a sequel, I'd be interested, but hope it would be more indicative of the first half of the story which focused on a more casual angle with enough action to keep it interesting without being crowded, or give us answers that were left out of this installment.

I took a blind chance with this book, and it was worth it, and if it does interest you, I would recommend overall.
May 4, 2018
When I started this book I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I try not to read too much of the synopsis or to remember that much of it. I think the first 50 pages or so were a little rocky for me because of that but after that I was completely drawn into the story and I can’t wait to see if there is going to be more in this world and the Gallow Brothers.

Bones and Bourbon is told in two first person point of views. One is Retz, a half-huldra who is sharing his body with a necromancing spirit. The second is his brother Jarod who is also half-huldra with a faerie curse. The two haven’t seen each other in 10 years when supernatural life throws them together for some scheming.

One of the reasons I needed some settling was the world. There are a lot of different kind of supernatural creatures coming forward that I had never heard of. For instance huldra or hulder. I had no idea what that was. In case you were wondering, huldra comes from norse mythology and is a female that with a cow tail. It is suspected there is a whole race of them though. In this book huldra are more expanded on, given extra strength and speed for instance.

I ended up loving how everything was created though through the supernatural creatures. Unicorns for instance are not quite so bright, sparkly and full of goodness in this book. It was fantastic. I want one. The author clearly created their own image of all these creatures and myths, and worked them into the book really well. There are also more worlds than ours. That was a little more confusing but we got the information we needed. For this book anyway. There is a lot of room to be expanded on and I think at least Nalem would scream in the void forever if there wasn’t another book. Or worse.

Character wise, these guys really grew on me. Retz on his own isn’t quite so interesting but when you throw Nalem into the mix, the necromancing spirit, you get a lot of chaos. It was interesting to see their interactions, Nalem’s wants and in a way lack of control as he is stuck in someone’s body. I think I actually liked him best. Bitter revengeful little spirit. My favorite.

But I was also drawn to Jarrod in a way. He is a lot more closed off because of the situation he is in and doesn’t even tell his boyfriend everything. Jarrod is also a transsexual. Rep wise I of course have little experience with this, but from what I could see I think the rep was done well. Farris, his boyfriend, is a bit of a mystery, even from himself because he doesn’t remember anything about his previous life. We do get to know a bit nearing the end but a lot remains a secret. He is a bit of an oddball but he also reliefs a lot of tension without becoming the clown of the book.

All in all I am very pleased I found this book on Netgalley and I can’t wait to see more from this author.
Profile Image for Dawn Vogel.
Author 139 books36 followers
August 12, 2019
(This review originally appeared at Mad Scientist Journal.)

Bones and Bourbon by Dorian Graves is a wonderful take on the urban fantasy genre. Chronicling the adventures of brothers Retz and Jarrod Gallows, this book is equal parts hilarious and a great commentary on the trials and tribulations of families.

Retz and Jarrod Gallows are both hulderkind, with one mortal parent and one huldra parent. But while Jarrod simply has the increased strength and stamina of the huldra, Retz has far more problems than just his missing internal organs. He’s got a spiritual co-pilot, a creature named Nalem who gives him the abilities to control bones but also sometimes causes him serious headaches. Add in an amnesiac who doesn’t like guns, a couple of furaribi, some Fae and other supernatural creatures, and carnivorous vengeful unicorns, and you’ve got a cast perfect for this rollicking tale.

If I had one complaint about the book, it was that the story switched between Retz and Jarrod’s points of view. The way it did so made a lot of sense, but it meant that if I wasn’t keeping close track of which brother’s perspective I was on at any given moment, I sometimes was confused. However, reading a little further always cleared up the question—the two brothers are written with distinct voices, and it was only my lack of focus that confused me.

If you’re a fan of Supernatural, but you wish they had done less queer-baiting and included more actual queer content, you’re going to love Bones and Bourbon. I’d also recommend this book to fans of The Dresden Files who want their heroes to be a little less average white guy and a lot more interesting.

The author provided us with a free copy of this novel in exchange for review consideration.
Profile Image for blub.
2,040 reviews
June 11, 2018
This is a hard book to assess because there was a lot going on in the book. Every character in the story has their own agenda for the things they do and readers are left to piece the story together as the story progresses. The POV switches between Rez/Nalem and Jarrod but a lot more characters show up and readers do get to see how they are all connected.

There's almost no romance in the book and it's very much a plot driven read. We get to know the Gallow siblings and the issues that plague them and the current predicament they find themselves in. Their background story is slowly revealed about their family life; how Rez came to share his body with Nalem, Jarrod's childhood as a female and how he played a part in bringing Nalem into their lives; Nalem's plan and those who want to keep Nalem safe and controlled. In between those moments though readers get to see the Gallow siblings reunite, the circumstances in which had them crossing paths, and how their minds worked. It was interesting learning about the creatures and the world the siblings lived in.

That being said this book seem to be a set up for many more books to come, because of that there are many questions left unanswered in this book. I have to admit it took a bit of time for the book to grow on me. I thought there was a lot of good elements within the story but I felt oddly disappointed that there was still an air of mystery in the story and Nalem was very elusive about his plans, his background and motivations even though readers got several glimpses into his history.

An free copy was provided to me in exchange for an honest review.
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