Book Review: Mad God Walking (Walking Sideways Book 1) by Connor Drexler

 
 
Damon grew up in the Sideways realm in a torturous place called the Night Hotel, but five years ago he escaped to the human realm and has since been trying to find his humanity with the help of Thom, a technomancer, and Sarah, a wizard. Damon is constantly battling the darkness inside of himself, but now he's also fighting against a group of wizards trying to destroy him, and he fears using his sorcery against them may be the very thing to turn him into the monster he doesn't want to become.
 

 
Book Review: Mad God Walking (Walking Sideways Book 1) by Connor Drexler | reading, books, book reviews, fantasy, urban fantasy
Title: Mad God Walking
Author:
Publisher:
Book Number: Book 1 of TBA
Pages: 235
My Book Rating: 3.5 Stars
More Info: Goodreads, Amazon, Publisher
 

Review:

*I received an ecopy of this book via NetGalley. This has in no way influenced my review.*

I found a lot of things in this book to be intriguing and unique, but there were also a few things I didn’t like quite as much, so it’s time for some lists!

Things I Liked:

– I loved the concept of a paranormal creature from another realm living in the human realm, trying to understand humans and be one of them, but still having this darkness in him that he can’t help simply because he isn’t human. That was my favorite part because in most books you have the brooding tortured hero (which admittedly I do like sometimes) who waxes poetic about what a monster he is even though in reality all he’s done is kill some bad guys, or kill some people in order to eat and survive, or maybe he did bad things but it was only to save his family from being tortured, etc. But Damon here was the opposite. He didn’t brood, but he really did have darkness within himself, and the author did a great job of making him very definitely not human. Sometimes he had the urge to destroy and kill and burn for no particular reason. At one point *MINOR SPOILER ALERT* he nearly burned down Thom’s kitchen and also hurt Sarah’s feelings when she discovered he’d been lying, *END SPOILER ALERT* which made him feel guilty… but he decided he didn’t like that human emotion of guilt and instead tapped into his power and spent hours happily playing with coins, completely forgetting the whole incident while his friends were upset. At another point he flat out forgot who Thom was and all he saw was a “smelly human” in his apartment. But the book itself wasn’t dark, and most of the time Damon’s attempts to understand the human world were just plain amusing.

“When I first met you, you were so whatever that you talked to inanimate frigging objects, as if you could negotiate with walls to get out of your way.”

“Well, in the Sideways—”

– Even though Damon was the most interesting character, I liked Thom too. His backstory was well thought-out, he had depth, and he was a good person.

– I really liked the friendship between Damon and Thom. Thom knew what Damon was the whole time but still trusted him, wanted to help him, and put up with his crap (I imagine Damon wouldn’t be an easy person to live with). And Damon cared so much about Thom that it kept him grounded and helped him fight off the darkness.

– The different types of magic and supernaturalness and powers were really cool. They were kind of confusing, especially in the beginning, but they made more sense by the end. The Night Hotel was also really creative and unique, as was the whole explanation about Damon. And I liked the way the wizardry and technomancy were described.

– The ending was great and also unique. It is a series though, so this is only a temporary ending, but one that I loved nonetheless.

Things I Disliked:

– I didn’t like Sarah. She came across as kind of crazy with how back-and-forth/hot-and-cold she was. There was even one scene when one moment she was scratching Damon’s chest with a knife and saying she should kill him, and the next moment she was sleeping with him. And she was too vulgar and in-your-face (well, in Damon’s face) with her come-ons, just kissing him all the sudden, climbing in his lap, etc. I liked her more toward the end though, so maybe there’s still hope there.

– I didn’t feel any chemistry in Damon and Sarah’s relationship. I imagine the romance will continue in the rest of the series, and I can live with that, but honestly this book didn’t even need it; Damon’s friendship with Thom would’ve been enough. His love for Sarah, I didn’t believe, but his care for Thom, I did.

– There were some typos and weird dialogue formatting (it didn’t happen all the time, but sometimes two characters would talk in the same paragraph instead of a starting on a new line, and I sometimes got confused as to who was talking). I had a copy for review though, so this might be fixed in the final copy.

So overall. I didn’t like Sarah or feel the chemistry in the romance, but I did really like the friendship between Damon and Thom, and I loved the magical aspects and the way Damon was so not-human yet still tried so hard to be regardless. There’s a lot of potential here for the rest of the series, and this was a unique and fun read!

*If you’re interested in learning more about the series, you can find an interview with the author here!*

 
 
Book Blurb

Deep in the Sideways beyond human imagination lies the Night Hotel where madness reigns. Madness Damon longs to forget.

A stranger on earth and a refugee from a twisted Sideways world, Damon slowly builds a life in Brooklyn with his only friends, Thom and Sarah. Learning how to live as a human does not come easy to the being from the Sideways. Memories of the Night Hotel where he grew up, and his guardians—Aunt and Uncle, still haunt him. Despite his bitter childhood, Damon is determined to forget and become worthy of Sarah’s love and Thom’s friendship.

When his new life is threatened by an Inquisition of human wizards convinced Damon is the same Mad God once responsible for the Dark Ages, he is forced to use the sorcery of the Sideways to protect it and his friends. But each time he uses the addictive magic of his home, he loses a little more of his hard won humanity.

Can he save them all before he turns into the Mad God the Inquisition believes him to be?

Basic Info

Book Author:
Publisher:
Series:
Genre: ,
My Book Rating:
Series/Standalone:
Setting Location: , , ,

More Info (Possible Spoilers)

Non-Human Type: ,
Romance Type:
Other:
Extra Love: ,

Warnings

Sex:
Violence:
Strong Language:

 
 

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  1. Greg

    I love the idea of a being from another world or whatever trying to fit in and live in our world. Such a cool premise. And the Sideways sounds quirky and interesting. Plus a technomancer- that sounds fun. I always like a story where the protag is not as bad as the enemies think he is, but he COULD be and by using his/ her powers may become that way. Pretty good moral dilemma. :) And of course are the enemies (in this case the wizards) good or bad?

    Too bad too that Sarah was flat. The writer must have been feeling Thorn and Damon so much she got short shrift maybe, but maybe she’ll shine more in the next one. I do like the unique nature of the magic though. Hopefully this is a series that keeps getting better.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Exactly, it is a fun premise. And every other time I’ve read about a non-human character, either they were originally from our realm, or they fit in really easily and were nearly human. And the Sideways was kind of horrifying and interesting. With all my technology issues, I could only imagine what would happen if I had technomancy. I’d probably accidentally blow up my apartment when my technology went glitchy and screwed up my spell lol. You know, as for your question, I could see both sides. I understood why the wizards were so worried about Damon and the Sideways, but of course I was on Damon’s side :-P

      Apparently Sarah is going to have a more prominent role in the next book, so she might get more development :-) And it would definitely be nice if the series keeps getting better since I’d like to continue!

      1. Greg

        I don’t even know what technomancy is but I’m assuming it’s mixing tech with spells? lol about your comment though, yeah you would have to be careful. :P I read about aeromancy once and it was just basically air spells, I like the elemental angle but haven’t read much of it- you know pyromancy and all that. All the -mancies lol. But yeah I’d like to see more non human POV’s in our world. And the Sideways keeps reminding me of the Upside Down in Stranger Thigs, even though I’m sure they’re pretty different. Maybe just the quirky name.

        1. Kristen Burns

          Yeah, he basically uses technology to make spells. Like magical apps lol, except ones that only he can use. At least that’s what I got from it. And haha, it always feels so weird and incomplete to just say mancy or mancer, but there’s no other word to encompass them all. I read the first book in a series last year (Flex by Ferrett Steinmetz) in which different people had different mancies, and the MC was a bureaucromancer and another character was a videogamemancer. It wasn’t quite for me so I didn’t continue, but I liked the idea.

          I think it would be fun to see more non-human POVs, but they’re probably harder to write. I haven’t read Stranger Things so idk if they’re similar, but I know I’ve seen the Fae realm referred to as the Sideways in other books… maybe the Trailer Park Fae books? This wasn’t explained as being the Fae realm though, and it was a pretty dark and creepy place, at least in the Night Hotel where Damon lived.

  2. Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews

    I am so attracted to books that happen in other realms, or space/time places than our own! And even if you didn’t enjoy Sarah, I think I could maybe enjoy this story, Kristen. I guess I’d be a bit careful, though, maybe I’ll read an excerpt first – because I don’t want to buy the book, and then be so peeved by Sarah I have to DNF…

    Lexxie @ (un)Conventional Bookviews recently posted: Review: Fling – Jana Aston

    1. Kristen Burns

      Well it mostly takes place in our realm, but there are a lot of… not quite flashbacks but more like chapters that show memories from his time in the Sideways. And the Sideways was definitely interesting! But yeah, I did enjoy the rest of the book even though I didn’t like Sarah. And who knows, you might like her more, and apparently some of her behavior was because of how she was affected by Damon’s magic.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Thanks! It’s frustrating when you don’t like one of the important characters, but at least I really liked the main character! And yeah, Sarah might grow on me, I’ll just have to see how I feel once I read the next book.

  3. Crystal Collier

    It’s been a while since I read Urban Fantasy, and then it was mostly in the YA realm, but I do love otherworldly transients. You wrote a lovely review and I’m rather intrigued by it.

  4. Bookworm Brandee

    LOL I had to read this review because I liked the title…and the cover. ;) And it sounds like an interesting read. It is rather unique to have a hero that actually *is* dark, doesn’t brood about it, and really isn’t apologetic. Actually, I don’t know that I’ve ever read one like that, so… I think it’s interesting how well developed Damon’s and Thorn’s friendship is – so much so that Thorn helps keep Damon grounded and acting at least a tiny bit human. Sometimes. Damon’s relationship with Sarah is curious. I’m wondering how it will be developed going forward and I’m eager to see if Drexler has Sarah grow in some ways so that you like her better.
    You always manage to pick such intriguing reads, Kristen! Another to put on your shelf. ;)

    Bookworm Brandee recently posted: New Release Review ~ Fling ~ Jana Aston

    1. Kristen Burns

      To be honest I don’t really like the cover lol, but the title and blurb got me :-P Damon really is an unusual type of character. He’s not bad, but he struggles and doesn’t completely understand human emotion. Thom definitely made a huge influence on Damon though, and I loved their friendship. Supposedly Sarah is going to have some more growth in the next book, so maybe I’ll be able to connect to her better :-)

      Yay! ALPHA SHELF. ;-)

  5. verushka

    I do like the sounds of this, especially the idea of a supernatural creature wanting to understand humans and not looking down on them. Not to mention, the intriguing worldbuilding.The romance from your description would annoy incredibly I suspect!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Oh you’re right, I didn’t even think about how so many supernaturals look down on humans. I was just thinking it was unique because most supernaturals just seem like humans themselves. The romance was obviously not my favorite part, but it wasn’t the focus of the book, so I was at least able to kind of just not worry about it much.

  6. Becky @ A Fool's Ingenuity

    Ugh, bad romances are the worst, especially when you don’t like one of the characters, or find them too crazy as the case may be with this one. I mean, they can actually ruin books for me if the romance is too prominent in the story. I think it’s enough to put me off of a book, which it shouldn’t but it does.

    I do like the sound of the whole sideways world and Damon having to adjust to the rules of the human world. It sounds funny (although maybe a touch frustrating) as he has to adjust to human concepts he hasn’t had to work with before of considering emotions and such. I don’t know. You’ve certainly made it sound interesting and tempting to read.

    1. Kristen Burns

      Actually the romance wasn’t the most prominent thing in the story, at least I didn’t think so, so it didn’t ruin it for me. And I did find the rest really interesting!

  7. Lola

    There’s something fun about reading about a character who isn’t from here and trying to live here. I like how you get to see humans in a bit of a different light. And I like how you mention he really isn’t human. With aliens or paranormal creatures I like seeing how they are similar, but also and maybe especially how they are different and can never be fully human. I like the brooding hero’s, but there’s also something to be said for someone who has done bad things or have a darkness and not necessarily feels bad about it or broods about it. Damon sounds like a very intriguing character to read about.

    And technomancy? That sounds different, I wonder what exactly that means. The magic here sounds pretty unique and cool.

    I don’t like the hot and cold type of characters too much s it just feels a bit weird how they switch from one thing to another opposite so fast. Although there often is a reason for their behavior, it can still bother me a bit. So I can see why you didn’t like Sarah too much, I hope she gets more likeable in the next book. That’s too bad you didn’t quite feel the romance, but it does sound like Damon his friendschip with Thom was great and made up for the not so good romance. Greta review!

    1. Kristen Burns

      Yes, it was really fun reading about a character like that! And it does kind of let you see humans in a different light since we’re so used to all the emotions and ways that we live that we don’t even notice them.

      The technomancy was basically magic using technology, like creating a spell using a phone app, kinda like that. I liked it. Though as I was telling Greg, with my technology luck, I’d probably just blow up my apartment when my electronics glitched out lol.

      Apparently she was like that because she was being affected by his magic, but I still didn’t like her :-/ There’s always a chance for me to change my mind about characters though, you know? It’s happened in other series. And the friendship did make up for the romance for me :-) Thanks!