Nightingale, a brand new novel by GeekDad extraordinaire Anthony Karcz has just been released online. The first in a story arc of at least three books known as The League Cycle, it features the adventures of a psychic girl, Alyson Hopkins, as she finally gets chosen from the lowest ranks inside a powerful Superhero League as part of the Big Team.
And what a team it is! Led by Magnificent, a powerful woman whose ability to heal is famous worldwide (as is her ability to throw punches), and Warden, an armored surveillance freak in charge of watching all League members. They both are on top of the League since the outbreak of the Sigsbee several years ago.
The Sigsbee is a gooey black consciousness that infects humans and makes them manifest hidden powers. Some are pretty useful: like the super-speed of Johnny Dodge or the ability to ice up everything like Frozen Fred does. Some are baffling: Treehugger is an elemental, #Trending lives on Twitter. Some are just plain dangerous: people who just blow up, killing everything around them, and have to be contained.
The League has two purposes: to recruit new members with useful abilities (a task that has produced a bureaucracy and a pyramid-like organization) and to stop infected and dangerous people who represent a biohazard.
Alyson gets chosen for her ability to generate force fields, a standard protection barrier and a containment one–pretty useful if a sight of the Sigsbee surfaces again. The problem is, her psychic powers have left her trapped with her mother inside her head: when she chose her superhero name (Nightingale) a subconscious hatch in her mind opened up and her mother took control of her body.
The book is full of geeky amusing details; anyone who knows their superheroes will be able to spot them. There is a hidden villain–everyone has something they wish to hide, and the sheer raw human effort it takes leads to very adult escapes: sex, binge drinking, fights. Every emotion can unleash something unexpected, and, to complicate things further, events do not stop happening: creatures pop up, killings are an everyday contingency, and the spectacular destruction of buildings happen often too.
With a twisted take that reminds you of The Authority or Planetary, this book can easily be visualized as a comic book series; there are moments where the action described makes you want to see a cartoon drawing up close, but this is a novel, not a comic book (yet). This book is for adults, not only for the sex and violence, but for the unclear morality of its characters. Forget Superman; these characters are human and very much flawed.
With snappy dialogue and great action scenes, the open ending makes you want to read the second book. There are many loose ends that we hope Karcz will be able to tie up nicely as the trilogy concludes.
Nightingale (The League Cycle Book 1)
By Anthony Karcz
[Kindle Edition] 152 pages
Published April 4 2015 by Cliffhanger Press, LLC
Cover arts courtesy of Cliffhanger Press, LLC
Disclaimer: a copy of this ebook was sent by the publisher for review purposes.