Stone Cold Bastards by Jake Bible

March 21, 2017

Only a rag-tag team of gargoyles stands between humanity and extinction.

Hell has released its ravening horde of demons, leaving most of humanity a puke-spewing, head-spinning mess of possession.

Humanity’s last hope? A team of misfit gargoyles—including a cigar chomping, hard-ass grotesque—come alive and ready for battle during the End of Days. They guard the last cathedral-turned-sanctuary atop a bald knoll in the North Carolina mountains.

Gargoyle protection grudgingly extends to any human who can make it inside the Sanctuary, but the power of the stonecutter blood magic, which protects the sanctuary, may not be enough when a rogue grotesque and his badly-wounded ward arrive.

All the hounds of hell are on their heels. The last Sanctuary is about to fall.

Ahh, my favourite fictional sub-genre – the end of the world. Always a joy. I may have mentioned this before, I can’t remember? I do love me some apocalyptic fiction. The latest Armageddon to grace my review pile is Stone Cold Bastards by Jake Bible. The gates of Hell are open and they are spewing forth a demonic horde. Our last line of defence? A mismatched collection of humans and living gargoyles.

The main story focuses on a monster called Mordecai, Morty to his friends. Within a handful of pages, I was picturing a cigar chomping, mildly cantankerous type who grumbles a lot but will do anything to protect his charges. I’m thinking something akin to Ron Perlman’s Hellboy hewn completely from basalt, you get the idea. Morty is grumpy but with a heart of gold, that is, if he had a heart which obviously he doesn’t.

When it comes to the other characters, the rest of the gargoyles are a pretty diverse bunch.

Artus is ancient and wise, Geffe is loyal to a fault, Roan is majestic, Xue is ferocious and Coins just plain defies expectation. They are a weird collection alright. The humans are a pretty unusual group as well now that I think about it. In particular, there is a medic called Highlander who is wonderfully odd.

Turns out if you’re made of stone and you’re going to be fighting possessed humans by the bucket load, then things are going to get messy. Just try to imagine a big concrete fist smacking a head with unbelievable force, I’d suspect there would be an almighty squelching sound. Essentially, in a very roundabout way, I am attempting to highlight the fact that Stone Cold Bastards has some beautifully gory moments. Those amongst you with a delicate disposition may wish to look elsewhere. I loved it though. The final epic battle was particularly squishy.

It’s always nice when you learn something new when you read a novel. I now know the difference between a gargoyle and a grotesque. Who said fiction can’t be educational?

I’m going to leave my music recommendation pretty fuzzy for this read. I suppose it goes without saying that it has to be rock (oh come on, be honest you were all expecting it). The question is which rock band. I’m inclined to learn toward AC/DC. Thunderstruck could easily be the theme for this entire novel. Album wise For Those About To Rock, also AC/DC, wouldn’t go a miss either.

My only criticism of Stone Cold Bastards, and it is a minor one, is I think this book would have benefited from being a little longer. There is some backstory that I would love to have seen filled in. We learn a little about how the various characters end up in the last sanctuary, but it doesn’t feel as though it is quite enough. I’d imagine many of the gargoyles has been around for quite some time. There must be other stories that have been left untold.

That tiny quibble aside, Stone Cold Bastards is loads of fun. My advice – grab yourself a fine cigar, crank up your favourite rock album, grab a cold beer and get reading. Who knew Gothic architecture could be so damned entertaining?

Phew, that’s a relief, I managed to get through the entire review without using the words pulverise, smash or icky mess…dammit.

Stone Cold Bastards is published by Bell Bridge and is available now.

One Comment

  • russell1200 March 21, 2017 at 5:25 pm

    Why on earth North Carolina? We almost certainly have more gargoyles on downtown public buildings here than on remote mountain churches.

    We just completely missed the gothic gargoyle church thing. The Catholic Cathedral in Raleigh (now being rebuilt) is the smallest Cathedral in the lower 48 States and was more along the lines of a cute stone chapel. The Episcopalians occasionally like to make their churches look like their made of stone, but the bright white steepled church is pretty much the norm.

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