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From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it. Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become t From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it. Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge.  Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable.  Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real estate developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.


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From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it. Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become t From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it. Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge.  Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable.  Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real estate developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.

30 review for The Blade Between

  1. 4 out of 5

    Nilufer Ozmekik

    A small town’s abrupt change by losing the spots of local stores to the new hipster owners, floating whales, increasing pressure and blowing hateful energy ! What a complex, creative but also a little confusing story! The author’s profound love to the whales made him use them as important spiritual addition to this story as he did at his previous work. I loved so many unique, inventive, different things about this book which waltzes between different genres including horror, mystery, thriller, d A small town’s abrupt change by losing the spots of local stores to the new hipster owners, floating whales, increasing pressure and blowing hateful energy ! What a complex, creative but also a little confusing story! The author’s profound love to the whales made him use them as important spiritual addition to this story as he did at his previous work. I loved so many unique, inventive, different things about this book which waltzes between different genres including horror, mystery, thriller, dysfunctional family drama, thought provoking approach to the small town’s bullying, narrow minded people’s attitudes towards the LGBTQ community and of course the hero’s main motivation that feeds him to take action to the newcomers was deep hate growing inside of him for years and years. But one thing still confuses me: the MC Ronan, 40 years old, NYC photographer specialized on erotism on his work. He is gay and he never gets approval of the people of his small town Hudson. He got abused by his school friends. Even his father never understood him, refusing to visit him for 20 years. And now he is sick. He needs to be taken care of. So Ronan goes to his old town to look after his death but the place is extremely changed after being invaded by new artsy community. This place was once upon a time whaling town , corrupted by crime, gambling and prostitution but as new comers start to build a new community and social circle, they opened antique shops, trendy restaurants, galleries. Eventually the local store owners start to lose their shops including Ronan’s father who has to close his butcher shop. So Ronan teams up with his old crush / police officer Dom and his wife Attalah to get their town’s back. I had hard time to understand Ronan who acts hateful against this new community so much as we consider his own people never approve his sexuality and acted so mean, abusive. And his way of creating a fake gay male account to get more information from gay community via online dating service was also quite hateful move! This logic didn’t work with me but the action packed parts when the hell breaks loose were so entertaining! Second part of the book was more likable for my taste even though the whales’ invasion parts are a little exaggerated, I had so much fun. I cut my points because of the MC’s confusing manners and exaggerated hateful thinking against the people. The creative ideas, world building, big fight between new comers and locals, fantasy elements are the strengths of the novel I truly enjoyed. I’m giving 3.25 stars to differentiate this book from my regular Switzerland, mediocre reads! It’s still good, smart, unique, filled of clever imaginative ideas. I couldn’t resonate with hero and his motives. That’s why I gave a little lower point. But hands down, the author is brilliant and I’m looking forward to read more works of him sooner. Special thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins Publishers / Ecco for sharing this reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest opinions.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This was a book that was way out of my comfort zone and I’m thankful for the experience in helping me grow as a reader. Initially, this was a mash up of The Bright Lands and When No One Is Watching, but once the second half of the book commenced it broke out more on its own (thankfully). This is definitely a book for the Trump era. (With a country so divided and the pervasiveness of the us vs them mentality.) One thing I would never anticipate thinking about that came to my mind a few times was This was a book that was way out of my comfort zone and I’m thankful for the experience in helping me grow as a reader. Initially, this was a mash up of The Bright Lands and When No One Is Watching, but once the second half of the book commenced it broke out more on its own (thankfully). This is definitely a book for the Trump era. (With a country so divided and the pervasiveness of the us vs them mentality.) One thing I would never anticipate thinking about that came to my mind a few times was the Mueller Report. I remember when listening to it, the tactics the Russian troll farms would use to try and spread confusion, hate and disinformation inside our country. Those very same tactics were used in the fictional town of Hudson, which could be any town in America that fell behind during the rise of globalization. It was quite terrifying, but very believable to read and something I wouldn’t have been able to picture if this was published pre-Trump. If I’m being totally honest, this whole book would have been a pile of crazy pre-Trump. Alas, here we are. I think this book provides much in social commentary that would elevate any conversation surrounding poverty, the opioid crisis, gentrification and much of what our country wrestles with culturally. A slight criticism I have relates to the sheer number of character perspectives. I don’t disagree with the author trying to portray literally almost the entire town to demonstrate the madness and evil that overtook everything, but it got a little confusing. I kept struggling to remember who everyone was and at first blamed it on reading it before bed every night, but then came to see that new perspectives were introduced at almost rapid pace as the conclusion drew nearer. Once I could see what the author was doing I just told myself to roll with it, but another reader might not be as forgiving. This also broke up the flow and made things jarring at times, but I respect the author’s decision for writing it this way. Overall, Mr. Miller is a brilliant writer and this is not a book I will forget anytime soon. I hope that in five or ten years time, readers of this book will look back on these issues as being things of the past. Thank you to Ecco Books and Sam J Miller for the opportunity to read and provide an honest review. Review Date: 11/20/2020 Publication Date: 12/01/2020

  3. 5 out of 5

    ScrappyMags

    DNF - 30%. I tried but I’m out. The truth is this book isn’t for me. I can’t give it just 1 star because it does have some great complex characterization (Ronan - protagonist) that I enjoyed, but here’s why I’m out. Ronan hates, HATES Hudson, a homophobic hellhole he endured and left. Now he’s returned because he’s doing a photo shoot for a guy who.... uh is actually dead. And now Hudson is a gay Mecca of sorts! That part, cool as heck, but then he starts a love affair with his married ex, and t DNF - 30%. I tried but I’m out. The truth is this book isn’t for me. I can’t give it just 1 star because it does have some great complex characterization (Ronan - protagonist) that I enjoyed, but here’s why I’m out. Ronan hates, HATES Hudson, a homophobic hellhole he endured and left. Now he’s returned because he’s doing a photo shoot for a guy who.... uh is actually dead. And now Hudson is a gay Mecca of sorts! That part, cool as heck, but then he starts a love affair with his married ex, and there’s this whole thing with this revolving around whales... like the dead whales of the past are up to all this? Ehhh that’s some mysticism and I’m just NOT feeling it. I think if it was better described, better billed as a nature/mysticism type of book either id have passed or read it expecting that, and wasn’t fond of what I found. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins/Ecco for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Silvana

    After reading: 4.5 stars. Sam's most lyrical work I read so far. It is one of those books that resonates. He writes so eloquently and you would find yourself carried away and lo and behold, it is 3 AM in the morning. As many reviewers mention, this book is ALOT. Variety of themes and issues, from social justice ones e.g. Eviction and displacement (the author's an activist), LGBT+ discrimination (own voice), racism, class warfare, to technology and social media invasive nature and how to weaponiz After reading: 4.5 stars. Sam's most lyrical work I read so far. It is one of those books that resonates. He writes so eloquently and you would find yourself carried away and lo and behold, it is 3 AM in the morning. As many reviewers mention, this book is ALOT. Variety of themes and issues, from social justice ones e.g. Eviction and displacement (the author's an activist), LGBT+ discrimination (own voice), racism, class warfare, to technology and social media invasive nature and how to weaponize them. The novel reads like magical realism imbued with horror. It is feverish in parts but never boring. What I loved the most was that it delves deep (no pun intended) to the characters (even side ones) psyche. With all the themes surrounding the characters struggling with their hopes, fears, love, insecurities, down to buried fetishes, I think you did a tremendous job, Sam, in capturing and framing them into one hell of a story. I did however would love a more deliberation of the supernatural aspects of it. I can deal with lack of real whales (sobs) but I needed more than the back story provided and how it affected the characters. Even my past reads of whaling history - admittedly Nantucket-based - did not give much context. Yet again, Sam Miller knows how to write a city. Heck, China Mieville now got a strong competitor. In urban SFF sometimes I struggled with the immersion. NK Jemisin's The City We Became - which I liked - was one example. In The Blade Between, I lived and breathed the city of Hudson. Before reading: Looking forward to read this. Special for this Halloween it's auto-approved in Netgalley. If you've read Blackfish City (which was one of my fave books in 2018), you'll know why I'm excited for this.

  5. 4 out of 5

    The Captain

    Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy horror eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . I really enjoyed blackfish city and was excited when I saw that Miller had a new book coming out and it had something to do with whales.  I was looking forward to seeing what the mind that came up with the “orcamancer” would give us next. This story follows a gay photographer, Ronan, who fled small town Hudson, New York to go to the big city and never want Ahoy there me mateys!  I received this fantasy horror eARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  So here be me honest musings . . . I really enjoyed blackfish city and was excited when I saw that Miller had a new book coming out and it had something to do with whales.  I was looking forward to seeing what the mind that came up with the “orcamancer” would give us next. This story follows a gay photographer, Ronan, who fled small town Hudson, New York to go to the big city and never wants to go back.  Ronan is thus surprised to find himself on a train headed there.  Ronan is a complicated character.  He is selfish, damaged, and filled with hate.  Being recently sober, he doesn't know why he is headed to Hudson. The reasons for this are complicated and ultimately don't make much sense.  There are mystical dead whales or gods or something.  I really did enjoy the set up for the novel and Ronan meeting up with his old high school friends.  I did not however, really care for the way the gentrification plot was handled even though the subject is an important one.  The side characters were intriguing and complicated but there were so many of them that none were explored satisfactorily.  This really was a novel of big ideas that didn't cohesively gel.  The ideas included commentary on gentrification, homophobia, open marriages, drug abuse, bullying, obfuscation of history, embracing history, suicide, health problems, police brutality, corruption, social change, online manipulation, race, poverty, anger, social services, and the complicated love/hate relationship of hometowns and family.  Add in the other elements like magical realism, cosmic horror, weird dreams, ghosts, and gods who suck. It was just too much.  I didn't connect to most of the characters and found the "horror" elements to be lame.  Also the pace starts out well, declines steadily throughout most of the novel, and then has an abrupt, poorly explained ending.  Though what happens to Ronan wasn't a surprise. There are also loose ends in many of the side plots.  I did however like the use of harpoons even if the whales in this story could have been removed.  Were they just there so there could be harpoons? Overall a disappointing read that had a strong beginning and premise that failed to deliver. So lastly . . . Thank you Ecco Press! Side note:  I always heard about whaling in Nantucket and not Hudson.  Also I never knew that Hudson was infamous for brothels in the 1920s and 1930s.  And a lot of this story seems partially inspired by the author's life as described in his author bio on his website.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Book Barbarian (Tammy Smith)

    eARC received from Edelweiss, thank you to Edelweiss and Ecco HarperCollins (opinions are my own). I know two things about Sam. He writes really well. And he is fucking obsessed with whales.... Sam’s previous novel Blackfish City really let me down and/or I over-hyped myself for it to me more than it was but I really wanted to read more from this author because he is very , very talented and he proves it with this very eloquent horror novel. Pro’s The author easily went from writing fantasy to writ eARC received from Edelweiss, thank you to Edelweiss and Ecco HarperCollins (opinions are my own). I know two things about Sam. He writes really well. And he is fucking obsessed with whales.... Sam’s previous novel Blackfish City really let me down and/or I over-hyped myself for it to me more than it was but I really wanted to read more from this author because he is very , very talented and he proves it with this very eloquent horror novel. Pro’s The author easily went from writing fantasy to writing horror, I love that. The story is so well written and its voice flows off the page so smoothly. His writing here reminded me of an author I know (don’t ask me who though). The characters are really fleshed out and I enjoyed the good ones and the bad and the main protagonist really captured my attention early on. The characters complicated relationships with each other was really felt and I got a great understanding of the town of Hudson and why things developed that way. Con’s Whale on the cover, whales in the cover. Ugh, I dunno, nothing against them personally but its making me dwell on Blackfish City his previous novel (even though the whales in there have nothing to do with this) but a small tiny part of me just quietly asked why he didn’t get this out his system in his previous novel. Although interesting it lost me a few times and often had to force myself to read on The writing and prose was so stunningly done it almost made me lethargic to any major moments in the book, I felt like it was all very predictable and it concluded just as I thought. If you love smooth character driven horror novels that have you reminiscing, The Blade Between is the perfect book for you. Rating: 3 The Blade Between by Sam J. Miller Standalone Publish Date: December 1st 2020 Cover Rating: 4/10 Adult – Horror – Fiction – LGBT

  7. 4 out of 5

    Michael Adamchuk

    I'm not sure why I downloaded this from NetGalley, its content is far off my radar screen. The historic town of Hudson, NY is simmering with angst. Locals are extremely upset that the wealthy down-staters have taken over their town. They have bought and renovated old homes and down-town buildings and turned them into expensive homes, condos, and antique stores. The result has been many evictions of local residents and local small businesses. Hardest hit are the minorities, blacks and LGBTS. The I'm not sure why I downloaded this from NetGalley, its content is far off my radar screen. The historic town of Hudson, NY is simmering with angst. Locals are extremely upset that the wealthy down-staters have taken over their town. They have bought and renovated old homes and down-town buildings and turned them into expensive homes, condos, and antique stores. The result has been many evictions of local residents and local small businesses. Hardest hit are the minorities, blacks and LGBTS. The characters are all flawed: current drug users, former drug users, adulterers, and schemers among other things. One of the protagonists, Ronan, returns to the town he hated and a youth because of the rampant homophobia. The town has now become a gay mecca. His 'love', Dom, is a town cop and is married to Attalah. The two men rekindle their relationship. Jark Trowse is the prime antagonist. He is there to finagle and buy out more of the town in order to build the Pequod Arms complex for the down-staters. Zelda is the prime conspirator in an attempt to destroy Jark and his plans. It all culminates in a fire and bulldozer rampage. The townspeople vow to rebuild. The novel is fraught with symbolism, good vs evil. Swimming sky whales, whale head costumes and harpoons being used as weapons. I was puzzled how Hudson has a whaling history, according to the book, it's a 2-hour train ride up the Hudson River from New York City. There are ghosts in Hudson and some of them are the result of recent deaths. They talk to the primary characters and appear and disappear at will. The author seems to switch between the first person, third person and what seems to be stream of consciousness frequently, seemingly adding a bit of confusion to the reading. I believe I had this novel in my NetGalley account before its publication date but didn't get to it soon enough since it was published in December. I thank NetGalley and Harper-Collins for my free copy and apologize for the tardy review.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Christina

    As a person who also moved far away from my small town, and then moved back as an adult to care for my aging father, I related a lot to this book. Well, maybe just in that way, and not so much the other things this protagonist did....but they sure were fun to read about. The main character, Ronan, a NYC photographer, has returned to his small town upstate while drying out from a recent crystal meth addiction. He passes the time by catfishing, searching for blackmail material, and obsessing over h As a person who also moved far away from my small town, and then moved back as an adult to care for my aging father, I related a lot to this book. Well, maybe just in that way, and not so much the other things this protagonist did....but they sure were fun to read about. The main character, Ronan, a NYC photographer, has returned to his small town upstate while drying out from a recent crystal meth addiction. He passes the time by catfishing, searching for blackmail material, and obsessing over his first love, who is now inconveniently married to a woman. I really enjoyed the tone of this book and the somewhat nasty, but funny and likable, protagonist. The book is dark and the narrator is complicated...which is just how I like it. It's really well-written, extremely, original, super fast-paced and intriguing. A lot of books claim to be "unputdownable" - this one actually is. Thanks to NetGalley and Harper Collins for helping me discover Sam J. Miller. I will definitely be checking out his other books.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Something about this just didn't work - the fear? the setting (Hudson seems to have moved from actually on, you know, the Hudson)? not caring about the characters? DNF after 25%. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss. Something about this just didn't work - the fear? the setting (Hudson seems to have moved from actually on, you know, the Hudson)? not caring about the characters? DNF after 25%. eARC provided by publisher via Edelweiss.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Trisha

    "Love is harder than hate. Hate is easy. But love? Love is hard." This is definitely a case of my low rating not being a good reflection of the book - but of me. This is actually a very well written, interesting, lyrical book - and it's the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. I think a lot of people will find this book interesting and that it makes an interesting statement and leaves you thinking well after you are done. But it felt very much like Magic realism (or maybe sci-fi realism? Is that a thing?). "Love is harder than hate. Hate is easy. But love? Love is hard." This is definitely a case of my low rating not being a good reflection of the book - but of me. This is actually a very well written, interesting, lyrical book - and it's the reason I'm giving it 3 stars. I think a lot of people will find this book interesting and that it makes an interesting statement and leaves you thinking well after you are done. But it felt very much like Magic realism (or maybe sci-fi realism? Is that a thing?). And I'm not a fan - trying to understand how someone scheduling photo shoots with someone they can't possibly be or the salt water in the mouth and the flooding in houses. Getting on board with the overarching them definitely involved suspending some disbelief and somehow, I just never got there. I wish I'd loved it more, I thought so many pieces were interesting on their own, but with the magic realism mixed in, I just couldn't make the full leap. Thanks to NetGalley and HarperCollins/Ecco for a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

  11. 4 out of 5

    E.

    A dark and beautiful journey.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Becky Spratford

    Review in the October 2020 issue of Library Journal Three Words That Describe This Book: cosmic, intense dread, childhood trauma Draft Review: Award-winning, Science Fiction author, Miller, takes Cosmic Horror head on with chillingly realistic results. Ronan, a famous NYC photographer, comes home, to Hudson, far upstate, to care for his dying father. Returning to the palce of childhood trauma, a place where being openly gay was dangerous, Ronan reconnects with his first crush, Dom, now a police off Review in the October 2020 issue of Library Journal Three Words That Describe This Book: cosmic, intense dread, childhood trauma Draft Review: Award-winning, Science Fiction author, Miller, takes Cosmic Horror head on with chillingly realistic results. Ronan, a famous NYC photographer, comes home, to Hudson, far upstate, to care for his dying father. Returning to the palce of childhood trauma, a place where being openly gay was dangerous, Ronan reconnects with his first crush, Dom, now a police officer, and his wife Attalah, a community organizer, to help them save the town from gentrification. But Hudson is more than just a typical, down on its luck, small town, its rich history has a power that goes deep into the soil, a power that transcends time and space, one that does not see humans as an obstacle, and one that will protect itself at all costs. Verdict: Filled with intense dread and unease that permeates every page, well drawn, if flawed characters, social commentary, and a satisfying resolution, this is a great example of how a century old subgenre can still speak directly to today’s readers. Direct those who want more to The Fisherman by Langan, Agents of Dreamland by Kiernan, or The Twisted Ones by Kingfisher.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs van Soest

    To start: I received an ARC of this through a Goodreads Giveaway. I really enjoyed reading this. It is well written with interesting characters that generally are engaging and in all cases quite flawed. These flaws are what makes the story work, otherwise a number of the questions/issues that other reviewers bring up and I do not really want/need to repeat here would become difficult to overcome obstacles. The supernatural aspect of the story (ghosts of whales!!! and ghosts/spirits?! of people) wo To start: I received an ARC of this through a Goodreads Giveaway. I really enjoyed reading this. It is well written with interesting characters that generally are engaging and in all cases quite flawed. These flaws are what makes the story work, otherwise a number of the questions/issues that other reviewers bring up and I do not really want/need to repeat here would become difficult to overcome obstacles. The supernatural aspect of the story (ghosts of whales!!! and ghosts/spirits?! of people) works for me, but I can see how for some people it is more of a distraction from a story that by itself could stand as a social commentary of a significant number of issues facing our society (chief among them: predatory gentrification, LGBTQ+ -fobia, substance abuse and addiction, and racism). The supernatural aspect is used as a mechanism to push what otherwise might have been small scale relatively powerless activism against the people driving the gentrification/major changes of/to the town/city of Hudson into a full blown radical vigilante movement that quickly spins out of control. All of this is somehow linked to the return of Ronan one of the main characters portrayed as Hudson's long lost son, though he has a complex and difficult relationship with Hudson and a number of its people, who escaped to big city New York to become a well known photographer. And this is where the story lost me a bit (hence 4 iso 5 stars) while Ronan's background is quite deeply delved into, it is never really clear to me how his return makes all this trigger and how he is so directly linked to the ability of the supernatural powers to exert their influence on the proceedings in Hudson. I guess I could have missed it, but if not, it is something that would definitely have helped the supernatural part of the story be stronger. So an enjoyable story that has definitely made me put the author's other books on my reading list, but if supernatural effects driven by the ghosts of whales are not your thing you will probably want to skip it, otherwise it is a good to almost great read.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Vicki

    I wish that I had loved this book. I read several reviews prior to writing mine which I normally don't do but I'm glad I did. The reason is that it seems quite a few of us (if not most of the ones I read) had some commonalities: almost quitting it during the first 50% (and less!) of the book, being confused at the start, and just how easy it was to read and keep comparing it to things going on in our nation right now. The book's MC Ronan is a photographer who happens to be a gay man who grew up w I wish that I had loved this book. I read several reviews prior to writing mine which I normally don't do but I'm glad I did. The reason is that it seems quite a few of us (if not most of the ones I read) had some commonalities: almost quitting it during the first 50% (and less!) of the book, being confused at the start, and just how easy it was to read and keep comparing it to things going on in our nation right now. The book's MC Ronan is a photographer who happens to be a gay man who grew up with bullying and homophobia. It's evident that he's bitter, angry, and is full of hatred for (it seems to me) all things and people including himself, with few exceptions. He is living in New York but hops a train to go back to his home in Hudson but when he gets there he recognizes very little, if anything due to gentrification. I get how gentrification can be terribly decisive and people can have conflicting ideas. There was so much in this book to look at philosophically: homophobia, gentrification, bullying, hatred and self-hatred, betrayal, drug addiction and so on. I tend to think about the philosophy of issues in books and how those issues are/are not a small or major part of my personal life, community, family, etc. Sadly, we still live with homophobia, hatred for others who are different or think differently than we do, bullies, racism, betrayal, adultery, and so much more. (I don't want to sound like I am trying to preach here, but you get the idea. I hope. The writing is masterful, it's incredibly beautiful in its literary form. It is definitely sci-fi, fantasy, and magic realism, none of which I am terribly fond of with the exception of some fantasy; however, I believe that this book is one that fans of those genres would likely love. I would like to thank NetGalley and Harper Collins for an e-book copy in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Jo Ladzinski

    Read an ARC via NetGalley Trigger warnings: Arson, stabbing, suicide, eviction, drug addiction, sexual assault (implied) The city of Hudson, New York is rich in a history that’s about to be erased by the gears of gentrification and corporate interests. The community fights back, but it isn’t until the whale gods and ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fray, feasting on hate and unleashing violence upon this already-tense community. It’d be ridiculous to say that every new Sam J. Miller book is my new Read an ARC via NetGalley Trigger warnings: Arson, stabbing, suicide, eviction, drug addiction, sexual assault (implied) The city of Hudson, New York is rich in a history that’s about to be erased by the gears of gentrification and corporate interests. The community fights back, but it isn’t until the whale gods and ghosts of Hudson’s past join the fray, feasting on hate and unleashing violence upon this already-tense community. It’d be ridiculous to say that every new Sam J. Miller book is my new favorite Sam J. Miller book because they all hit the same highs for me as a reader in their own unique ways. But holy heck, did I enjoy this one. I couldn’t keep my eyes off the unfolding horrors and thoughtfully-crafted exploration of gentrification, drug addiction, surviving homophobia, lost love, sordid history, ghosts, and community organizing blended so seamlessly. The precise language that’s consistent throughout all his works is present here, and there is no stone left unturned. I found Ronan’s arc so painfully compelling. He skipped town to pursue a photography career in New York and decided years later to return to a place that’s foreign to him. In terms of trying to save his father’s butcher shop, which feels like the last vestige of Hudson before the corporate invasion, he makes such an attempt. And then forces beyond his control imprint on that attempt, which involves catfishing on Grindr (an element I enjoyed far too much). I could not keep myself together as the terror unfolded. There’s more pedestrian terror of him trying to mentor a gay high schooler who isn’t out to his pastor mom, and then the supernatural horror of an entity he accidentally summons. You simply can’t look away from how badly and unintentionally this man fucks up. It all goes about as well as you’d expect, but I found the ending particularly cathartic. His relationship with Dom, Attalah, and Dom and Attalah hurt in the ways of “what could have been” and “none of us are really the people we were in high school, except we sort of are.” The way their love is both tough and tender depending on the scene, and sometimes in the same moment. The complexity here is such a thing to behold because it felt so realistic. What I found most interesting is that, with the exception of a few, none of the characters fell strictly into a camp of “good” or “bad.” They’re all trying to survive in the best and only ways they know how. An absolute treat for those who loved Hex and want something a little more thoughtful with a specific perspective on how gentrification is wreaking a terror we know on small town communities with a layer of supernatural fear which makes it all viscerally unsettling.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Misha

    "Because here's the thing she learned along the way--hate is a kind of attachment. To hate something is to cleave your soul to it. And sometimes love is the root of hate. Sometimes you say you hate something because you love it, love what it could be, but hate what it is, how flawed and broken. She feels that way about her country. Hates it, because of how much she loves it, and how much awful stuff it does, how far short it falls of its own professed ideals." (51) "Yeah, but, here's the thing ab "Because here's the thing she learned along the way--hate is a kind of attachment. To hate something is to cleave your soul to it. And sometimes love is the root of hate. Sometimes you say you hate something because you love it, love what it could be, but hate what it is, how flawed and broken. She feels that way about her country. Hates it, because of how much she loves it, and how much awful stuff it does, how far short it falls of its own professed ideals." (51) "Yeah, but, here's the thing about being a cop. For me, anyway. You figure out real fast how words are bullshit. Best not to go by them, really. It's not that people lie, although they do, all the time. The real problem isn't dishonesty. It's ignorance, or confusion. People don't understand themselves at all. Why they do the things they do. What they're feeling, and where it comes from. So the narratives they construct in their heads, and they way they give voice to those stories, they gave a pretty minimal relevance to reality." (142) "How hard our brains work, to keep the sense of self intact. How they will filter out anything that threatens to shine a light on how we are horrible. I could practically hear the unspoken mantra playing out in his head--the same one playing in mine. I am a good person. I do my best, and sometimes I fail, but I would never willingly hurt someone. If harm is caused by my actions, like if I buy a cheaper bag of rice at the grocery store and keep peasant workers enslaved, the blame belongs to the systems I am a helpless pawn of. If someone hates me, it's because something is wrong with them."

  17. 5 out of 5

    Joseph

    NOTE: I DID NOT INTEND ANY SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW, BUT YOU MAY WANT TO READ THE ACTUAL NOVEL BEFORE SEEING THIS REVIEW. One thing for sure about Sam J. Miller’s THE BLADE BETWEEN, it’s not a cookie cutter novel. I’m not even sure what genre it is. I have to wait until December to see how Amazon.com classifies it. I was thinking perhaps fantasy or science fiction. Readers on Goodreads lean toward horror. Whatever it is, it may develop a cult following, but I find it hard to believe it’ll do well wi NOTE: I DID NOT INTEND ANY SPOILERS IN MY REVIEW, BUT YOU MAY WANT TO READ THE ACTUAL NOVEL BEFORE SEEING THIS REVIEW. One thing for sure about Sam J. Miller’s THE BLADE BETWEEN, it’s not a cookie cutter novel. I’m not even sure what genre it is. I have to wait until December to see how Amazon.com classifies it. I was thinking perhaps fantasy or science fiction. Readers on Goodreads lean toward horror. Whatever it is, it may develop a cult following, but I find it hard to believe it’ll do well with the mainstream reader. Who knows? I did not like the book . . . . until I did. I almost quit reading in the first fifty pages. I hated that part. I’d put the book aside for days at a time with little desire to return to it. One irritating thing in part 1, for example, is the over-use of the word “blade.” Blade in the ribs, Blade in the shoulders, Blade in the back, Blade in the heart. Blade in the title. There seemed to be more blades in the first fifty pages than I have blades of grass in my front yard. I interpreted blades as symbols of hate. Speaking of hate, HATE is the word. The main character, Ronan, a 40-year-old gay man who is a famous New York City photographer specializing in erotic, semi-pornographic pictures, is filled with hate. He hates his hometown of Hudson, N.Y. He hates his high school classmates who abused him because he was gay. He hates his father and has not come back to see him in twenty years. He’s lived a promiscuous gay life in NYC, and has been a drug addict so long he has terrible short-term memory, he wakes up not knowing where he is, and he suffers hallucinations. Three days after meeting a young gay male named Katch who wants to be photographer like Ronan, Ronan agrees to meet Katch in of all places, Hudson, NY. (We soon learn Katch died six months earlier) Hudson, NY, population around 7000, changed dramatically over the centuries. It was once a whaling town, then a manufacturing center, and then by the end of the 20th century was rife with gambling, crime and prostitution. That’s about the time Ronan left. Since then, the LGBT community from NYC invaded the town and began transforming it to an artsy community with art galleries, antique shops (lots of antique shops), and fancy restaurants. The transformation resulted in many Hudson residents and businesses being displaced and moved out or closed down. Included in that group was Ronan’s father’s butcher shop (Which totally broke the old man’s spirit). The richest of the gay newcomers is a prohibitive favorite to become the next mayor. Ronan immediately hates the new Hudson and the newcomers for what they did to the “Old” Hudson (which he also hated) and his father. He hates the mayor-to-be. He hates himself, too. Other than that, he’s a likeable guy. Ronan quickly meets up with Dom, a black police officer who was Ronan’s gay lover in high school. They fall back in their familiar sexual exploits. Meanwhile Ronan and Dom’s wife, Attalah, share a hate for the newcomers and the “new” Hudson. They devise and set in motion a plan to drive the newcomers out. Things get out of control. For example, Ronan creates a fictional gay male to get information from other gays on the Hudson internet dating services. The fictional character develops a human form of his own, and he is not a nice person. Many “old Hudson” residents have harbored a lot of hate that gets unleashed once the original relatively benign plan is set in motion. There’s violence, and people are as likely to be killed by harpoons as by gunshots. Somehow the whales that float over Hudson have something to do with this. The complex story gets more interesting when things get out of control. Since I’m a newcomer to a small town oldtimers complain has been transformed into a place of art galleries, antique shops, and fancy restaurants, I often related more to the “evil” newcomers than to the old guard. Sam J. Miller is an excellent writer. He makes this weird and complex story work. It’s impossible for me to settle on a sensible rating. Most readers seem to love it, with some who, shall we say, don’t love it. sam J. Miller's writing is five- star. The goofy blade references in parts 1 and 3, all that spewing hate, and so much foul language (I forget to mention the foul language) are not to my liking and gets 2 stars. I guess, subjectively, 3 or 4 stars will be my rating.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Dollie

    Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for letting me read this unpublished ebook. Well, I’ll start by saying that at least I liked this story better than The Arrest or The Pumpkin Farmer, which are two of the last three books I’ve read. Ronan is a young, gay man who is an up and coming photographer in NYC. He wakes up on a train and realizes he's back in his hometown of Hudson, NY, an old seafaring city. Ronan has a few problems. He also feels a lot of hate toward the people - “outsiders,” who h Thank you NetGalley and HarperCollins for letting me read this unpublished ebook. Well, I’ll start by saying that at least I liked this story better than The Arrest or The Pumpkin Farmer, which are two of the last three books I’ve read. Ronan is a young, gay man who is an up and coming photographer in NYC. He wakes up on a train and realizes he's back in his hometown of Hudson, NY, an old seafaring city. Ronan has a few problems. He also feels a lot of hate toward the people - “outsiders,” who have been buying up all the real estate and driving the long-time residents out. Here in Maine, we call them “Summer People.” Lucky for Ronan that his best friend from high school, Dom, is still in town and is now a police officer married to another high school friend, Attalah, and the three of them quickly become reacquainted. There’s a lot of stuff going on, everybody seems to have a plot and secrets and there’s lots of hate floating around. Ronan doesn't realize it at first, but he can see dead people and one of them is telling him that he has to spread the hate around in order for the outsiders to leave. He has visions of whales floating through the sky and they’re speaking to him through his dead friend, Katch. There is definitely a story here and the writing and characters were likeable enough for me to continue reading until the end, but sometimes there was too much of a story – so many different characters doing so many different things – that it could be confusing trying to keep track of who was who. Also, the whole idea of slaughtered whales from hundreds of years ago becoming mystical and people running around the city killing each other with harpoons, while wearing whale head coverings, was just too far-fetched for me. Contains gay sex and lots of violence. Definitely not for kids.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Faith Hurst-Bilinski

    The Blade Between tried to do a lot of things. Too many things. It seemed to jump around but never finish anything it started out to do. There is the sadness of changes to somewhere you use to know. The anger of gentrification. The pain of relationships. And then there is the supernatural. All of it was promising. None of it seemed to be fully fleshed out or to deliver what it promised in the end. I think this could have been a longer and more developed story.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    [Content warnings: book contains discussions of suicide; child sex abuse; and addiction] Holy horrific shit. Once again, Sam J. Miller has crafted a captivating story with writing that left me gutted and glutted with emotion: horror, despair, hope, hate, and love. This is one hell of a read, and I cannot recommend it more highly. Miller’s story made me lust for the next sentence, the next chapter, an ending I desperately needed to know yet never wanted to reach, I didn’t want to leave this tale, [Content warnings: book contains discussions of suicide; child sex abuse; and addiction] Holy horrific shit. Once again, Sam J. Miller has crafted a captivating story with writing that left me gutted and glutted with emotion: horror, despair, hope, hate, and love. This is one hell of a read, and I cannot recommend it more highly. Miller’s story made me lust for the next sentence, the next chapter, an ending I desperately needed to know yet never wanted to reach, I didn’t want to leave this tale, these exquisitely crafted—real—characters. Whether doing things I loved or hated, I was drawn to Ronan, Dom, and Attalah, not to mention the other persons Miller creates. I cannot accept that the only way to make things better in some ways is to make them so much worse in others. –Ronan Szepessy, p.195 This is the story of Hudson, New York: a rapidly gentrifying small town with historic ties to the whaling industry. Though many of its residents can remember happy days of yore, when business was local and NYC residents didn’t invade it for weekend getaways, neither its past nor its present, we learn, were ever idyllic. Traumas across Hudson’s past invade its present, but the new residents and businesses also invade and prey upon Hudson. Miller’s story grapples with the interconnected legacies of colonization and gentrification. (view spoiler)[All of this starts to be revealed when, at the start of the book, Ronan Szepessy—a middle-aged gay photographer, who was born and raised in Hudson (his father once owned and operated the local butchery) but left and made a (very?) successful career in NYC. He left Hudson upon graduation, not long after his mother committed suicide and his father’s butcher shop went out of business. Ronan returns “home”—to a place he has avoided for twenty years due to the abusive homophobia he faced as a teen there—to discover it has changed drastically: antique stores; high-end dining, cafés, and bars; a tourist business; more gay acceptance; and the attention of Jark Trowse, a gay billionaire who has rooted his business (Penelope’s Quilt) in Hudson and is now running for mayor. Trowse is also behind a renovation project (Pequod Arms—a fitting Moby Dick reference) for luxury housing that is forcibly displacing longtime residents of Hudson due to high rents. The main holdout keeping this project from breaking ground is Szepessy’s father, whose closed butcher shop is on some of the real estate needed for Pequod Arms to succeed. But deeper supernatural forces are at work. With this set up, a thrilling plot unfolds as Ronan’s return stirs up the shit that’s been festering in, around, behind, and under Hudson for generations. When Ronan reunites with Dom—his secret high-school boyfriend for whom his feelings still smolder—and Dom’s wife, Attalah, a social worker and community organizer and activist, his hatred for what these gentrifying “invaders” have done to his town turns his energy to stopping them at all costs. Ronan and Attalah team up to take Hudson back for those who have been and are being pushed out—and to drive away the invaders. I’ll admit, I craved it. I wanted Ronan and Attalah to succeed. As Attalah tells Ronan his plan is “fucked up” (and she’s in), I was exhilarated, thrilled to watch some fucked up horror turned out upon people whose comfortable lives were built upon eviction, exploitation, and legalized theft. I should have known it wouldn’t be so simple: Miller knows what he’s doing. This book weaves a fiction from strands of his own experience as a child of (the real town of) Hudson and a butcher as well as his community organizing work, especially his activism around housing and homelessness. The plan Ronan and Attalah set in motion quickly goes viral, and the supernatural forces that drew Ronan home overtake their plan and multiply how fucked up it is. We aren’t talking multiplication of fucked-up-ness: this is a fucked-up plan hitting exponential growth. When that growth crescendos, suddenly the reader realizes Miller has taken our lust and used it to gut us, leaving us feeling like a whale carcass, blubbering across the sofa. From there, he makes us—and his characters—confront the mess we’ve/they’ve made. As we gaze histories of gentrification and colonization, we recognize our complicity in them. And he reminds us that what we—and our ancestors—destroyed cannot simply be repaired. There are horrors to face; there is work to do. In the midst of all this terribleness, though, compelling moments seep through. You cannot help but love the flawed characters who drive this story, especially Attalah, Dom, and Ronan. As a friendship-threesome and a complex love triangle with three very different couplings (only two of which are sexual), their complex love is compelling. There are elements of this world that would be wonderful to inhabit, and the horrors of this thrilling story teach lessons that readers need to experience. (hide spoiler)] The Blade Between delivers gut-wrenching fantasy. The novel blends horror/thriller and SFF, genres that Miller injects with a politically-oriented queerness. Miller gives his readers a delicious revenge fantasy that many of us crave (or maybe his writing makes you crave it). But, as we begin to feel sated, Miller reveals the horrors these cravings unleash, making us ask now what?

  21. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Mcquiston

    I was excited to see a new novel being released by the author of “Blackfish City,” a novel I bought when it came out, always had intentions to read, but did not crack the spine. This means that I requested the ARC of “The Blade Between” on my excitement over the intentions of reading Sam J. Miller’s previous, acclaimed work.  “The Blade Between” is about Hudson, a city with a rich history. This history fills the town with ghosts of people, of whales, and of the things that it used to be. Ronan fl I was excited to see a new novel being released by the author of “Blackfish City,” a novel I bought when it came out, always had intentions to read, but did not crack the spine. This means that I requested the ARC of “The Blade Between” on my excitement over the intentions of reading Sam J. Miller’s previous, acclaimed work.  “The Blade Between” is about Hudson, a city with a rich history. This history fills the town with ghosts of people, of whales, and of the things that it used to be. Ronan fled Hudson as soon as he was old enough to leave, but now that his father is ill, he has come back to take care of him and his legal affairs. What he discovers is a Hudson that he does not recognize. The city with the local businesses have all turned into antique shops, art dealers, and hipsters. He meets up with his old friend and lover, Dom, and his new wife, and he hatches a plan to get the town back from the outsiders. “The Blade Between” starts as one man’s crusade to get his town back, but after a short time, the town has plans of it’s own. There is a supernatural force in this town, and for a story that could be a simple, city politics story, there is a second element to it that makes it engrossing. I can say that this supernatural force is all of the ghosts of the past, but this does not seem to be a fair assessment. There are just things that the town does that some of the citizens are not even aware of. The radio station is an example, playing whatever song is perfect for whatever listener at the particular time. So much of the city has it’s own agenda, and the characters are just merely the pawns.  For the first half, I did not think that I liked this novel that much. There was something about the way that Ronan conducted himself that made him rough and unlikable. The novel never really shifts away from him much, but there are other characters and focused actions that kind of made me forget that Ronan is kind of a jerk. For not really liking it much, I did not realize that the novel was almost 400 pages long until the end. It did not seem that long. It reads fast and the story really was interesting and well structured. This might not be enjoyable for everyone, but there are some people that I will recommend this novel to. I just know that I now have to go back and read “Blackfish City.’ I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Poonam

    This is a story about the harm gentrification of in a small town in New York. And how it harms and pains those being pushed out of their homes. I struggled with this book a lot mainly because the execution is flawed. But first, the good, the pain around the gentrification and the disgust and rage against the gentrifiers is very well described, especially in a small post-industrial town. I think the relationships between the characters are also believable, especially the side characters. The auth This is a story about the harm gentrification of in a small town in New York. And how it harms and pains those being pushed out of their homes. I struggled with this book a lot mainly because the execution is flawed. But first, the good, the pain around the gentrification and the disgust and rage against the gentrifiers is very well described, especially in a small post-industrial town. I think the relationships between the characters are also believable, especially the side characters. The author is good at dropping in a variety of characters POVs to move the plot. However, there were many things that just didn't work for me. But my main issue was that the supernatural element driving this story is not fleshed out. It's not clearly described and it doesn't make much sense. I didn't feel any of the dread from the build up from the supernatural, either. As a result, all the driving energy for the plot and the main character doesn't have clear motivation. I could speculate as to maybe what the author was going for, which has a lot of potential, but for me it fell short. Thank you to @Netgalley and @Ecco for the e-copy in exchange for an honest review of this book. 

  23. 4 out of 5

    Geonn Cannon

    I really enjoyed most of this book, the townspeople and the whaling history was all in my wheelhouse. The ending is... problematic to say the least, and I think it brings the rating way down. (view spoiler)[Even if it was more interpretation than intention, it felt to me like the book was saying suicide was the answer and doing it could be heroic, and maybe the people who die are better off. It showed suicide as something magical that opened up a whole new world, and I found myself really bristl I really enjoyed most of this book, the townspeople and the whaling history was all in my wheelhouse. The ending is... problematic to say the least, and I think it brings the rating way down. (view spoiler)[Even if it was more interpretation than intention, it felt to me like the book was saying suicide was the answer and doing it could be heroic, and maybe the people who die are better off. It showed suicide as something magical that opened up a whole new world, and I found myself really bristling at it. (hide spoiler)]

  24. 5 out of 5

    Linda McCutcheon

    "Hudson has been many cities, but it has always been this one. The one with soil steeped in blood, with a harbor full of bones." This book is not a typical ghost story. In fact, The Blade Between by Sam J.Miller, is not typical in any genre. It is a tale of hate creating evil, of sacrifice creating good and perhaps, mostly, it is the story of being human. Ronan is a 40 year old gay photographer, a recovering drug addict, and on his way to the small upstate NY town he has always hated to take care "Hudson has been many cities, but it has always been this one. The one with soil steeped in blood, with a harbor full of bones." This book is not a typical ghost story. In fact, The Blade Between by Sam J.Miller, is not typical in any genre. It is a tale of hate creating evil, of sacrifice creating good and perhaps, mostly, it is the story of being human. Ronan is a 40 year old gay photographer, a recovering drug addict, and on his way to the small upstate NY town he has always hated to take care of his dying father he hasn't spoken to in 20 years when we meet him. He is shocked how the town has changed through gentrification causing his dad's butcher shop to close. He hates the new antique shops. He hates that his high school lover is married to a woman. He hates that he hates it all so much. It is all this hate that brings the ghosts of the whales that once ruled this harbor town but were slaughtered for profit. The scary part is the whale ghosts are not the weirdest part of the story! So much happens throughout this book from homophobia, suicide, drug abuse, adultery to mass murder that I was often overwhelmed and confused but, to the author's credit, I could not stop reading it. There is a great deal of social commentary between the lines that actual make this book a timely provoking novel. There are a few WTF moments in this book that truly floored me. The writer has an uncanny ability to describe awful events with beautiful lyrical prose. It was like reading a blend of Stephen King, Toni Morrison and Ta-Nehisi Coates. Even when I wanted to I could not look away. This novel might not be everyone's cup of tea but if you give it a try it might surprise you as much as it did me. I received a free copy of this book from the publishers via NetGalley for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

  25. 4 out of 5

    BookChampions

    REREAD NOVEMBER 2020: Every bit as wonderful and wild as the first time. ....... *The Blade Between*, Sam J. Miller’s fourth novel, should be the one that opens him up to a wider audience. This time Miller blends genres, using tropes from horror, social issue novels, and crime fiction, to create a roller coaster of a book; I never knew quite where he was going to take me. The book begins as if a Stephen King project. *The Blade Between* moves with all the energy and horror of a King novel, but it g REREAD NOVEMBER 2020: Every bit as wonderful and wild as the first time. ....... *The Blade Between*, Sam J. Miller’s fourth novel, should be the one that opens him up to a wider audience. This time Miller blends genres, using tropes from horror, social issue novels, and crime fiction, to create a roller coaster of a book; I never knew quite where he was going to take me. The book begins as if a Stephen King project. *The Blade Between* moves with all the energy and horror of a King novel, but it goes further. In fact, this novel is where Stephen King meets James Baldwin, an intersection I didn’t quite think was possible. It’s a daring balancing act that is executed here with guts and flair. While the main purpose of horror is to explore human fear, Miller’s project is to explore human possibility. He uses the tropes of horror novels (and a few of King’s signature moves) to amplify the things that get in the way of our activism—mainly hate. It is HATE that twists like a “blade between” our ribs, and HATE does not discriminate between the good guys and the bad. It feeds on us all if we let it. At the heart of the novel is the controversial gay photographer Ronan Szepessy, who reluctantly returns home to his small town of Hudson, NY to see his ailing father and to respond to a mysterious message from a muse who may or may not be dead. But something is up with Hudson when he arrives to this place of his coming-of-age; something is haunting the people who live there, something tearing through them, a rising hate that is burrowing between the ribs like a knife. Miller takes us through Hudson, its activists and protestors, its corruption and gentrification, and its history of whale slaughter, and he does it in those ambitious and humanizing King strokes, introducing us to dozens of characters and making us fall in love with the three at the book’s heart: Ronan, his first love Dom, and Dom’s wife Attalah. (The relationship between these three was incredible—my favourite in all of Miller’s novels.) But the message of the novel is more akin to something out of Baldwin than King, the way human desire and the noble quests for justice lead us to dead ends and pain and, sometimes, a whole lot of hope. *The Blade Between* is a book that feels very NOW. As protestors and activists fight daily in the streets and online to bring justice to the oppressed and topple inhumane regimes of hate, Miller gives us a book that is at turns a wild revenge fantasy, and at others a powerful, resounding protest sign of a novel on the necessity of, and revolution that is, love. I will not promise a conventional reading experience here—like in any King or Miller novel, there are moments of the supernatural and the bizarre that will challenge you as a reader—but *The Blade Between* is impossible to put down. *The Blade Between* will make you want to talk about the issues within it and it will make you CARE—not just about these characters, but about the issues within it and about how hate has blinded or paralyzed us all from making a real difference. And that’s something I can promise you.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Drace

    I don't really write formal public reviews but since I won an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway I feel kind of obligated to say at least something about it. Here goes. Sorry if this review sucks. (It will probably suck. I'm not great at reviews.) The Blade Between lies somewhere at the crossroads of Needful Things (a town on the edge, just waiting for the spark that sets off a powder keg of violence) and Night in the Woods (a town haunted by the eldritch memories of its violent past and a protagonist c I don't really write formal public reviews but since I won an ARC in a Goodreads giveaway I feel kind of obligated to say at least something about it. Here goes. Sorry if this review sucks. (It will probably suck. I'm not great at reviews.) The Blade Between lies somewhere at the crossroads of Needful Things (a town on the edge, just waiting for the spark that sets off a powder keg of violence) and Night in the Woods (a town haunted by the eldritch memories of its violent past and a protagonist coming home to a place that is vastly changed). It's a very human story, packed full of a cast of characters who all have their own unique relationships to the town at the center of the story. Really, the town is almost a character of its own, especially when the memories of the past start talking. Sam J. Miller does a wonderful job of building the world of Hudson and fleshing out the relationship between Ronan, Dom, and Attalah at the center of the story, as well as the emotional turmoil Ronan feels towards Hudson throughout. The supernatural aspects are also wonderfully realized, and when the plot really starts to kick off, the tension gets ratcheted up real high and just keeps building and building as the story snowballs towards its inevitable, violent conclusion. If there's any issues I had with the novel, the biggest one is also one of its greatest strengths: the characters. They're well-written, but there's a LOT of them, and at some points the ensemble cast gets so huge that it's hard to keep track of everyone. The ensemble cast also unfortunately takes some focus away from the most overtly supernatural, cosmic aspects from the story once the ball starts rolling on the plot, but in a way that just adds to the mystery of Hudson's past and builds even more of an atmosphere. Overall I really liked it. Would recommend. If you're looking for spooky small-town character drama, this is a great choice. Also I haven't read Blackfish City yet but wow, Sam J. Miller really loves whales, huh?

  27. 4 out of 5

    Chris Deal

    This is not horror in the traditional format. Sure, there are ghosts and ancient gods, but the horror here comes fully in the form of man, in the evil inherent in us. I loved this book for that. We get insight into issues of homophobia, gentrification, racism, and class here, commentary under the veil of horror while still giving you lots of those creeping fears. This is a great read, with characters that are fully fleshed and some damn remarkable prose.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Mystery & Thriller

    Hudson, New York, is a real town along the Hudson River, once a seat of industry and later infamous as a center of vice. Recently Hudson has undergone something of a revitalization --- now recognized as a destination for the LGBTQ+ community and others charmed by its restoration of architecture and business revival. While this influx of new people, ideas and establishments seems to have worked for Hudson, author Sam J. Miller envisions a Hudson where gentrification leads to a near-apocalyptic des Hudson, New York, is a real town along the Hudson River, once a seat of industry and later infamous as a center of vice. Recently Hudson has undergone something of a revitalization --- now recognized as a destination for the LGBTQ+ community and others charmed by its restoration of architecture and business revival. While this influx of new people, ideas and establishments seems to have worked for Hudson, author Sam J. Miller envisions a Hudson where gentrification leads to a near-apocalyptic destruction of life and property as old spirits and modern technology collude to resist change. THE BLADE BETWEEN is a fast-paced, blood-soaked, supernatural thriller with plenty of madness, sex, socioeconomic commentary and even romance. Miller’s Hudson had once enjoyed a thriving economy based on whaling. Massive whale corpses or dying whales were moved via river to Hudson to be butchered and rendered. The bones and blood of the animals settled in the soil, and their spirits, becoming tethered, grew angry and powerful. Ronan Szepessy left Hudson decades ago, after suffering homophobic violence and bullying while growing up there. He became a successful photographer and rarely returned home to visit, even as his father’s health rapidly declined. But 20 years after his last trip home, Ronan wakes up on the train to Hudson with no memory of boarding and no idea why he is going there. Being in Hudson means being confronted by painful memories, but he also sees firsthand the gentrification taking place with blocks of antique shops, hip coffeehouses and the real estate takeover of tech billionaire Jark Trowse, who is running for mayor. Almost immediately, Ronan runs into Dom, his high school best friend and first love, now a town police officer. Dom’s wife Attalah, a social worker, is spearheading an effort to keep Trowse from buying up all the Hudson real estate and evicting local tenets. Trowse’s power enrages Ronan, and soon he and Attalah hatch a plan to take Hudson back. Ronan soon realizes that malevolent forces, the godlike ghosts of murdered whales, have influenced him and others not only to fight against Trowse’s policies but also to tear down Hudson, bringing it back to the state of economic impoverishment, close-mindedness and rampant addiction that it had been wrestling with for so long. Why exactly? For revenge and control, it seems, though Miller struggles to explain the ghost-whale motivations. As the election draws near, and then as Trowse handily wins, a wave of intimidation, blackmail, vandalism and violence sweeps through town. Dom, before Ronan confesses his ghostly conversations and visits to the “deepsea,” grows concerned about the irrational behavior he sees in town, but Ronan knows more of the truth: “...there are ghost whales in our heads, whispering in our ears and deforming our dreams until we do terrible things.” It is a strange and promising premise to be sure, but Miller occasionally loses control of his tale, and the result can be more chaotic than frantic, more confusing than compelling. THE BLADE BETWEEN is a fantastically extreme reaction to gentrification, but many of the social issues it addresses are all too real. Hudson as a poisoned town populated by traumatized people and those who would prey on them is a great setup. The characters, even the heroes, are shady and complex, and even though the plot moves at a brisk and exciting pace, it is a bit sloppy and garbled. Still, Miller gives readers plenty to ponder: cultural ills, chilling scenes, the power of love and friends, lessons from the past and hope for a better future. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman

  29. 5 out of 5

    Zachary Houle

    I’ve seen how gentrification has changed the city I live in — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There’s a strip of Wellington Street in Hintonburg that radically transformed overnight from being nothing but row upon row of biker bars to upscale pubs and swanky fast food joints, one of which is named Hintonburger. (Get it?) It’s been a marvel to think about how seedy the street was 20 years ago and how things are different, and for the better, now. But, of course, gentrification is not always a good thing I’ve seen how gentrification has changed the city I live in — Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. There’s a strip of Wellington Street in Hintonburg that radically transformed overnight from being nothing but row upon row of biker bars to upscale pubs and swanky fast food joints, one of which is named Hintonburger. (Get it?) It’s been a marvel to think about how seedy the street was 20 years ago and how things are different, and for the better, now. But, of course, gentrification is not always a good thing — particularly in the States where it is more racially motivated than perhaps economically motivated. That’s kind of the crux with Sam J. Miller’s new novel The Blade Between. Being marketed as a horror novel, this book asks the question, “What would happen if new, mostly white, citizens of an upstate New York city moved in and tried to evict the mostly black tenants living there for decades?” The answer is nothing short of war. The book centers on the character of Ronan, a gay man who is a photographer in glitzy New York City, who comes to the small city of Hudson, New York, to look after his ailing father and get away from it all. However, it isn’t long before he’s immersed in a battle between rich hipsters from the city and poor locals struggling to keep their homes from skyrocketing rent. At the heart of this battle is a woman named Atallah. She and her police officer husband, Dom, have an open marriage — though there’s resentment beneath the surface as to how open it is. Pretty soon, Dom and Ronan are canoodling, picking up from where they left off in high school. Will Atallah be hurt? And what about the ghosts of Hudson that Ronan and Atallah have unleashed upon the city, turning neighbour against neighbour in violent fashion? Will they, too, be out for a kind of revenge? Read the rest of the review here: https://zachary-houle.medium.com/a-re...

  30. 5 out of 5

    Luna

    *Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review* The first thing I have to say is I really liked the world building of this book. The author did a wonderful job of creating the town of Hudson. The main character really has bad memories tied to this place, rightfully so, he had endured quite a bit there. But, even with his memories he heads back to help his father only to face a place so different than he remembers, but hates. The world and environment of this story feel real, it has a *Book given via netgalley in exchange for an honest review* The first thing I have to say is I really liked the world building of this book. The author did a wonderful job of creating the town of Hudson. The main character really has bad memories tied to this place, rightfully so, he had endured quite a bit there. But, even with his memories he heads back to help his father only to face a place so different than he remembers, but hates. The world and environment of this story feel real, it has a feel to it even with the supernatural elements. There is a rich history of the town, which is not just there for the sake of being there, but plays into the plot The writing itself was interesting, the plot moved quickly even for a nearly 400 page novel. It was a book I picked up from time to time, but I always ended up reading for more than I originally planned on. It did talk about a lot of larger topics throughout this book like violence, gentrification, homophobia, drug use and more. I think this is one of the reasons I kept on reading this book, because it had a lot going on and was dynamic. The major flaw of this novel is the first part of the book was difficult to get through. While I did say I always ended up reading more than I planned, this first part of the book was a bit iffy for me personally, but turned around for me as the book continued. Another thing that I wasn't totally on board with is the fact that it could be really confusing at times and I had a hard time trying to figure out what this book was trying to be at first. Overall, I think the author created a really rich history for this town that really lent itself to the plot and structure of the story. I think the author is a talented writer and I plan on giving his other works a try as well. I really enjoyed the use of the paranormal and really elevated this story into an engaging and unique horror. I feel like if this book sounds interesting to you, you should give it a go.

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