Author ~ Tam MacNeil
Publisher ~ Dreamspinner Press
Published ~ 7 March 2016
Genre ~ Paranormal M/M Romance, Urban Fantasy
James van Helsing is the youngest son of the famous monster-hunting family—and the family’s big disappointment. He’s falling in love with Gabe Marquez, his oldest friend and son of the family the van Helsings have worked alongside for years. Things get even harder for James when he becomes what he and everyone else despises most—a magic user.
He didn’t mean to evolve into such a despicable person, and he knows using magic is illegal, but there’s nothing James can do about it, no more than he can stop himself from loving Gabe. Just when things can’t seem to get worse, he and Gabe are called to help nab a network of magicians who are changing destiny. Not just any destiny, but the destinies of the van Helsing and Marquez families. James foresees a terrible fate, one in which monsters emerge from the cracks, along with his dark secret. And that’s when people start to die.
The blurb on this was intriguing, and so was the book.
James is the youngest member of the Van Helsing family. He is a drunk and is delightfully caustic when describing himself. He can’t pass a bottle of whiskey or bourbon without relieving the vessel of some of its contents. It’s the price he pays for keeping secrets. In fact, for a good portion of the story, the man’s a mess because of his secrets. Yet, I couldn’t help my heart going out to him. He has a good soul and a wonderful way with words.
Gabe is the man James in love with, but as he’s scared of fucking everything up, he keeps his distance, as much as he can.
Scene setting is descriptive enough to place oneself in the picture. A whole world is set up here, and what a world it is. Occult just doesn’t cover it. Occasionally, though, I found myself skipping some of the finer details – especially when some of those details interrupted the flow of a scene. I appreciate they were probably important, but at the time of reading, I found them annoying. A few lines of dialogue too had me scratching my head in confusion in WTF moments (and no, it wasn’t because I skipped a few lines). Also, several cast members were named Abraham or Abe. Despite a dedicated name for each version, I had to think which generation each was from. I appreciate that naming conventions often dictate that the first born is given a specific name, but in an intricate story like this, I found it more of a hindrance than a help.
All that said, it was worth persevering, as later all those scratched head moments became clearer. As such, I found the second half of the book easier to read than the first half - probably because I was more initiated into the world of the supernatural. Hence, half way, for me, is where the story took off.
Vomit is a feature. So is blood. And the author gets suitably gory in all the right places. I occasionally had my heart in my mouth, too.
Salt and Iron is an elaborate story that a lover of all things Van Helsing will appreciate and adore. It is full of excellent action, twists, and turns, and secrets coming out of the woodwork. The bad aren’t necessarily the real evil, and even the demons have reasons for their actions. Do not take many things at face value.
It is one of those books that when you’ve finished it, you’ll go back to read it again and probably appreciate it more the second time around.