Friday, 1 May 2015

Book Review - Abduction by Alan Baxter

It is no secret that I am a fan of Alan Baxter. When I first read Bound last year I touted him as one of the future stars of speculative fiction in this country, and after reading Abduction I still stand firm on that opinion. 

Abduction finds Alex Caine in a bad way. The weight of the world and its secrets have taken their toll, and some days Alex finds it hard to even get out of bed. Alone one night, Alex is overwhelmed by a band of Fey who kidnap him and take him away from the mortal realm. Their leader, a powerful enemy, wants the Darak from his chest. Another more familiar enemy has also returned seeking vengeance, and Alex and his friends will need all of their power and intellect to fight both of these foes. The fate of the world rests on whether they succeed or not. 

So what did I love about Abduction? Pretty much everything!

Abduction is a cracking adventure that will leave you needing a sweat rag and a lie down after finishing it. From the outset Baxter sets a frantic pace that pulls no punches as Alex is suddenly kidnapped and whisked away to the deadly realm of the Fey and their Queen. From this start the story unfolds at a rapid rate and twists and turns as Alex and Silhouette attempt to save the world, and familiar and unfamiliar players emerge from the shadows in a showdown that has been coming for a very long time. 

Sublime action is Baxter's norm, and Abduction does not disappoint. Each action sequence and fight scene were choreographed brilliantly, and at times I was left stunned by the realism and violent intent on the pages. You really can tell that Baxter has a background in martial arts, and by god does he use that knowledge to great effect! I was glued to these to these scenes, and I felt every punch and kick ricochet off the pages as I read. 

The characterisation and world building were again very strong in Abduction, and I adored seeing old foes return to the fray as events spiralled out of control. Alex, despite being incredibly powerful, has almost buckled from the pressure that this has brought upon him, and his conflicted nature was one of the highlights of this series for me. I loved the fact that despite his power he still experiences depression, fear, anger, and hopelessness. His power bears a cost, and it is one that he struggles with. With Alex being trapped in the land of the Fey there is also a much greater focus on secondary characters in Abduction. 

Silhouette is again alluring and deadly, and the roles of Armour and Black Diamond are fleshed out much more. The Lady is an enthralling new player who both delighted and terrified me at the same time, and the return of Robert Hood is brilliantly executed. Hood was one of my favourite characters from Bound (alongside the Subcontractor, who just creeped the fuck out of me!), and his return really added a sense of dread and danger to the book for me. Baxter also knowingly laces the narrative with tidbits and world building that both delighted and informed me without ever slowing the pace of the story down. His universe is dark, deadly, and addictive, and it will grab you by your eyeballs and steadfastly refuse to let go.

Baxter has continued to improve with each book, and Abduction is arguably his finest work yet. The twists and turns left me reeling, and the ending was both surprising and very satisfying. Baxter has now reached the milestone of being an author whose work I immediately buy without question now, such is his talent for weaving a great story. 

Abduction is a fantastic tale filled with magical splendour and pools of bloody and violent realism. I would highly recommend it (and the rest of Baxter's work) to anyone with a beating heart and functioning brain.

4 out of 5 stars

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