ARC Review: The Long Nights (Carthage City Ghosts #1) by Tom Mock

MY RATING: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

A cry of pain, hard and desperate, tore through Carthage City one night…

The Nightwalker Killings: bodies drained and tucked away in the abandoned corners of Carthage City Oldtown. The oddity of their stalled decay was a mystery … until the latest victim woke in a fury of teeth and claws.

Joe Kellerman, a young telepath working with a group of occult “Specialists,” finds himself face to face with the vampire known as the Nightwalker—at least, what’s left of him. To stop the vampire's contagion of death from spreading, Joe searches the killer’s memories to find his missing victims before any more wake to feed.

But as an alluring photojournalist with a history of blackmail starts to suspect his involvement in the Nightwalker case, Joe is stretched thin between past mistakes and his search for the missing, where every face he sees is a life seemingly doomed to a bad end. Maybe that's why he keeps having visions of a girl in yellow sneakers from the killer's past—the fleeting hope that someone made it out alive.

Is there anyone left to save, or has Joe finally gone too far into the dark to find his way out again?

📖 Advanced Reader Copy

🚨 I received an advanced reader copy, provided by the author for an honest review. 🚨
This did not impact my rating in any way.
The Long Nights is an entrant in the 2022, SPFBO-8, for those that don’t know the acronym, (Self-published fantasy blog-off). I am not a judge and this is an independent review.

First thing I want to say is that this is not a vampire story, so don’t come into this thinking about twinkle vamps, or a bloodbath story of vampires. This is a dark fantasy, psychological thriller, noir, detective story about a vampire. So with that in mind, I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about this when I first decided to read it, since it’s not exactly in my “wheel-house” of what I typically read. Let’s just say that I ended up loving it from the moment I read the intense prologue that left me speechless. This story is brooding, ominous and intricate, just like a good noir should be and gave me vibes of the noir film, Sin City. Needless to say, I found a new sub-genre in fantasy that I’ll be looking more into in the future.

“They say the truth can set you free, but it can also be a cage.”

The story is somewhat of a slow-burn that expertly builds to a fantastic climax with twists and turns around every corner. Slow-burn is not meant to be a negative, but be ready to invest time into the characters and the world, because Mock does a fantastic job of creating the main character Joe Kellerman, a telepath that is also an artist who is going through a breakup. Mock works out all the kinks of this character to help us readers understand who he is and what he’s going through personally while he’s delving into the mind of a killer to find his victims. I love that the character has so much depth that he’s not only a telepath trying to find these bodies, but also causes him to paint works of art that he actually sales off.

“I got a feeling about these things sometimes. Little ideas, they just come to me like fireflies. I draw them in and swallow them up, and the light dances behind my eyes.”

There are some other fantastic characters that Joe is with throughout this like Beth the photojournalist, Adrian Lange the vampire, his boss Marv, the muscle Janis and Medic… the medic. While a few of these didn’t get a lot of time on the pages, I felt like they were given the right time and treatment to get some attachments to them that will transfer into the next book in the series. I also feel like the author worked himself into the book as the bartender which I think is pretty cool, I know if I wrote a book, I’d work myself into a small part as well.

“Out of the windows I could see the lights in the rain. Streetlamps glittered like nearby stars marching away down the street. In the distance, the constellation of lighted apartments shifted with the lives inside.”

The city of Carthage was also done intricately well, as it has a Gotham-like feel to it, the good thing about Urban fantasy is that you don’t have to work in too much detail on the city, but I thought the author did a great job of describing the city and sometimes so vividly eloquent (like the quote above). What I loved most about the setting, was that while it doesn’t come straight out and say it, you’ll pick up on clues along the way that this is based somewhere along the 90’s, and that just made me all nostalgic of growing up during those simpler times. Another piece of the setting that is such a cool concept is the library of memories of Adrian the vampire, that Joe goes in to help try to figure out clues. It’s built to be like the rest of the book, dark and ominous… and there is no relenting on that feeling in this book.

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