*I was offered this book for an honest review.
As stated in the synopsis and title, this book has two stories in it for us with Esho St. Claire on the job. They are of a magical sense with Esho and his abilities. But the second story starts to blend the possibility of much more with electric and technology blended with magic.
I've had the opportunity to read a few of Scott Roche's short stories in a few anthologies. I have enjoyed his story telling and surprises he adds. It was a pleasure to read a few more stories from him.
This is a wonderful introduction into the world Esho lives in. I do hope to see more stories of Esho on the magical cases.
The Gibbering Mr. Cravat
Due to the discretion of Madame Francesca's home of ladies, Esho is meeting his client here. Mr. Cravat has been cursed. He's physically changing. Esho thinks this transformation sounds like a cult he has seen in Pennsylvania. Esho recruits his friend, San Younger, to help him with investigating as he's worked with him and he's got the muscle. The man is also the tallest man Esho's ever seen. Sean is always ready for a fight and the way this case is looking, they are going to have to venture into the Undercity to find their answers.
First, I love that Esho is not your normal main character. He's got some age on him which makes him the wiser rather than barreling in head first. Esho is also a man of color. I don't get to read many books that reference characters of different origins. Esho has a magical essence to him and a power that comes in handy, along with his sword.
Sean is another character, kind of a side kick, that I truly enjoy as well. He has his own secret, that Esho knows and we learn though the story. It has to do with his drinking of alcohol daily, well constantly.
The story starts with subtle magic and paranormal hints to the world, other than the client and his terrible change. Esho has a handy straight razor he carries with him at all times. This common object is not as simple as one would think. It's got a magic to it and Esho uses it on several occasions through the story. Handy! I'm rather taken with the razor.
The magic here has a cost for Esho when he uses it. I like that there is a limit to magic usage and Esho doesn't come out seeming immortal. But he also has magic stored in spells in other objects, which is a great boost to the system.
We do get to journey to the Undercity, but not before it comes to Esho. There are many creatures in this world! It's an interesting setup, and hinted at more down in the Undercity.
The Current Killer
Esho has an appointment with the one and only Nikola Tesla. Nikola wants to show Esho his recording of a ghost. He's discovered a murder and plans against mankind. Is it true? Can Nikola contact the dead with his technology? Esho must find it the ghost Tesla has recorded is for certain dead to verify the machines ability. And what could it bring to the world Esho knows exists that others do not? The magical side of the world.
Scott has created a short story where Nikola Tesla is present and his abilities are present and seen along with explaining how things would work out for Nikola in the future. And speaking of future, there could be a chance of many new devices and work with Nikola? I'm hoping! Nikola is working on creating a marriage of science/technology and the mystical. His desire to bring scientists to look into the phenomenon (as he calls it) more than they have. It's so neat to see Nikola working his magic here and braver than he ever thought he was.
Esho has a different partner in this story. Madame Samedi. Esho needs her help to see if the device really does record the departed spirits. She then becomes aware that if Nikola's device is true, it could mean trouble for other mediums and magical beings. Man kind is known for making tools into weapons.
Nikola has his battles with Edison, and it's seen here. We see their battle of minds and ways clash in a deadly manner. We get our fight at the climax of the story. I enjoyed that scene and climax at the end. All the magics, technological and magic, come together as they battle each other. It's a sight to see as you read!