Strange things did happen here, no stranger would it be; if we met at midnight in the hanging tree. Let’s tie a noose for Undead to the World, by D. D. Barant.
Jace’s return to Kansas is an instant reminder that there really is no place like home. The tavern is still brimming with losers, practical jokers, and motorcycle chicks. Even the town’s only Goth is still wearing eyeliner. But just as Jace is about to click her heels and hightail out of there, she’s roped into a brand-new case. Somebody is possessed. And the bodies are piling up…
They call him the Gallowsman. According to legend, he was sentenced to hang—though his crimes still have not been specified. When he was strung up to die, his spirit stuck around waiting for people to hang themselves…so he could steal their bodies. Now, with the undead rising up and going on a rampage, Jace must put her own neck on the line. Can she get the Gallowsman to give up the ghost?
With this book, The Bloodhound Files comes to its incredible, climactic conclusion. That can only mean one thing: an epic final battle between Jace and Ahaseurus for the fate of Thropirelem! Final appearances by all the secondary cast members! And above all else, a satisfying conclusion to the overarching story of the past five novels. …Right?
For one thing, the fight doesn’t take place on Thropirelem. I mean, why should it, when it’s only been the major setting for the past five novels? For another thing, the fight isn’t against Ahaseurus. I mean, why should it be, when he’s only been the overarching villain of the entire series? Furthermore, hardly any of the characters we’ve met before appear in this novel. I mean, why should they, when it’s only the final chance for them to make one last appearance and resolve any lingering plot threads? And finally, it’s in no way epic, climactic, or even particularly good. I mean, why should it be, when the series can end with a lazy whimper instead of a resounding bang?
Now, to be clear: I don’t have any particular problem with the basic premise the novel. Ahaseurus captures Jace and transports her to a village in another world custom-built to torment her, and she has to figure it out and escape? Fine. Likewise, there’s nothing wrong with the Gallowsman as an antagonist. But for the final book of the series? The story that should be a grand, epic culmination of all that has come before? No. It doesn’t work. Because the whole series has been building up to a confrontation between Jace and Ahaseurus. He’s her archnemesis, a serial killer obsessed with murdering versions of her from alternate universes, the one who originally brought her from Earth to Thropirelem. You can’t just kill him off at the beginning of the book, offscreen, and have the final battle be against this Gallowsman guy who has never appeared or even been mentioned before.
Another problem is that, for a book meant to be the capstone to the Bloodhound Files series, barely any of the characters from the series actually appear in it. It’s not even set in Thropirelem; just some nameless alternate world we’ve never seen before, and most characters are only represented by their alternate world counterparts. Hoping to see characters like Gretchen and Xandra appear a final time and get a fitting sendoff? Too bad. And oh, don’t get me started on Azura. I loved her character when she was first introduced, was fascinated by her powers and her world. I was so looking forward to seeing her in action again. And what do I get instead? A few purely expository conversations with her over a video screen. What a waste of a great character.
And what a disappointing end to an enjoyable series.
Final Rating: 2/5