Thursday, May 16, 2013
Black & Orange - by Benjamin Kane Ethridge -
Benjamin Kane Ethridge has created an amazingly complex mythos for Black & Orange. There's the Church of Midnight, a mysterious organization whose goal is to unite with the Church of Morning located in the Old Domain, a place separate from the real world and filled with horrors.
Each Halloween there is a temporary opening between worlds and there are forces at work to make the opening permanent and another group whose goal it is to keep it closed.
To keep the portal closed is the job of two Nomads assigned to protect that year's Heart of the Harvest. If they fail and the Heart is captured then the opening between worlds grows closer to permanence. On the other hand, if the Heart is protected, the Church of Midnight must wait until next Halloween before trying again.
In order to assist in protecting the Heart of the Harvest, the Nomads are endowed with magical powers, specifically, the ability to create mantles, I think of these as magical apps.
Opposing them are members of The Church of Midnight. In addition to trying to locate the Heart of the Harvest, there is a good deal of in-fighting amongst the Bishops of the church. One of my favorite lines in the book concerns newly appointed Bishop Paul Quintana, "He'd even killed Justin, blew his best friend's head into vulture kibble, just to sit in this chair, just to say hello to her."
Black & Orange is challenging fare, but certainly worth the effort. It actually won the Bram Stoker award for best First Novel. One of the things that makes this story work so well is the way the writer breathes so much life into the people in the book. They're more than just characters moving through plot twists. Even though the subject matter is fanciful, they seem more like real people dealing with real issues.
I certainly wouldn't recommend Black & Orange for younger readers or the prudish, but if you're up for an immersive read please do check this one out.