Lukasz's Reviews > Endsville

Endsville by Clay Sanger
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it was amazing
bookshelves: urban-fantasy, dark-fantasy, occult

We’re bad people... We lie. We cheat. We steal. We kill. So long as we take out the trash and keep the peace with the other liars, cheaters, thieves, and killers, nobody really cares.

Endsville is the first in a new series, Outlaw Arcana, from Clay Sanger, author of few short stories published in various anthologies. I’ve read none of his stories and I don’t remember how and why I pre-ordered his debut novel. I woke up one day, opened my Kindle and there it was. 

The story occurs in Los Angeles and introduces readers to the House of the Crow. Led by their enigmatic street captain Gabriel, the Crows are a secret coven of high-rolling occult gangsters. A gangland king enlists their aid to recover 34 million dollars in cash—stolen from him by what appears to be a hostile sorcerer. 

On the hunt for missing money, The Crows battle through a vicious cycle of betrayal, violence, and black magic. Allies prove to be enemies and relatively simple mission turns into something much more sinister. 

St. John family's members have no redeeming qualities. Fierce and brutal, they’ve built their occult crime dynasty on ruthless laws and sense of loyalty. Anyone who joins Crows becomes part of a highly dysfunctional and toxic family. They care for each other and share strong bonds but have no mercy for disobedient, traitors, enemies, and outside world. The story is split in three main POVs:

Gabriel St. John: Crow‘s street captain. Brutal, efficient, traumatised. Drinks a lot, sleeps around, rides Harley. Sounds flat? Probably. Nothing further from the truth though. Gabriel is one of the most intriguing anti-heroes I know.

Delilah St. John: a gifted occult practitioner struggling with few addictions.

Victor St. John: Lord Crow, head of the family. Always calm, composed and calculating. You don‘t play with him because when you do bad things happen. Victor emanates power and stands out as a fascinating character. 

I found them fascinating. Each character feels distinct, each of them brings to the story their own individual aspect. Victor remains mysterious and composed when all hell breaks loose and that makes him fascinating. He bears a resemblance to Mr. Church from Joe Ledger novels or John Marcone from Dresden Files. Gabriel and Delilah are deeply flawed and traumatised individuals. Sanger’s writing speaks to me on a visceral level. He understands how to write inner darkness better than most and this skill makes Delilah and Gabriel’s chapters a dark treat.

Clay Sanger’s writing is smooth and articulate. He doesn‘t shy away from slang, bad language, or sharp sentences but it all works. His pacing is excellent. Endsville is a page-turner with no lags.

Despite significant length the book feels directed and purposeful. There were just few places where I could have said something in the book might not be essential to the story at large. 

I never expected to fall in love with bad guys with no redeeming qualities, but I did. Sanger’s world is terrifying and brutal, but also complex and fascinating. It convincingly portrays flawed individuals who struggle with substance abuse, occult addiction, toxic and abusive family relationships and living a life of crime. 

An excellent book, but approach it with caution. It contains lots and lots of violence (including mentions of rape), sex and bad language.   
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Reading Progress

December 25, 2018 – Started Reading
December 25, 2018 – Shelved
December 25, 2018 – Shelved as: to-read
December 26, 2018 –
12.0% "A strong start, unforgiving characters, definitely bleak world."
December 27, 2018 –
31.0% "Fast and furious. Very good so far."
December 28, 2018 –
43.0% "Brutal and uncompromising. And yet I don't feel the violence is gratuitous."
December 29, 2018 –
81.0% "Addictive."
December 30, 2018 – Shelved as: urban-fantasy
December 30, 2018 – Shelved as: dark-fantasy
December 30, 2018 – Shelved as: occult
December 30, 2018 – Finished Reading

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