Hellmaw: Eye of Glass – Marie Bilodeau (2016)

hellmaw-eye-of-glassFor myself, there is nothing like a severed head to make me giggle in delight. But my ill mannered rejoicing usually comes in the form of slasher movie gore scenes and not in written prose. Marie Bilodeau ups the ante by not only having a severed head in her new novel Eye of Glass, but has the audacity to make the severed head one of the main characters. And just to be clear I’m not talking about some bound medical experiment like The Brain That Wouldn’t Die (one of my faves, natch) but a mobile, talking, scheming noggin that gets around more than a cheap corner hustling floozy.

At the center of the story we find Cassie, a young woman trying to eke out a living as a waitress. Her life implodes the day she finds a lifeless head in an alley with nothing more than a spine attached. Only the head is Jaeda, and prankster that she is, likes to lay dormant only so that she can bound to life and scare the living crap out of unsuspecting humans. When the cops swoop in what is evidently a murder scene, the salty detective Tren calls in the resident gangly morgue technician Charles Kite to gathers up “the head” much to the chagrin of Charles who witnesses her escape and becomes equally entangled in the mystery.

A tale of a juvenile delinquent daemon alien slowly regenerating a body, but who is also almost as clueless of her origin as her two new found friends, Jaeda is the precious subject of her one time giant green caregiver as well as another fire spouting villainess. But what are the plans of these alien Araurrans and why do they all want Jaeda? Who are the members of a clandestine underground online forum that Charles has infiltrated and are just as focused on Jaeda while seeming to help Charles? With Tren one step behind Cassie and Charles, the two each have their own motives to rescue Jaeda from the evil daemons hot on her heels. Well not heels since she doesn’t have those either, but you get the picture.

This action packed adventure provides non-stop intrigue and comedy relief largely at the hands (well spine) of Jaeda. Her vertebrae operate like a Swiss army knife of tools that can be used to take down adversaries, climb walls, slither through the streets and vents, or even drive a car. All seemingly with ease (maybe not the car driving thing) as long as there is no shag carpeting which seems to be the only thing that can cramp her style.

Eye of Glass is part of the Hellmaw series of books brought to us by Forgotten Realms creator Ed Greenwood. Greenwood has assembled a troupe of writers to form The Ed Greenwood Group (TEGG) and the Hellmaw series based on the daemons on a planet called Aurant will be but one of the series coming under the TEGG banner. The best part is that Bilodeau’s  Eye of Glass is only the first in the series called The Bodyless Series. I foresee more heads will be on my bookshelves in due time.

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