Brandon Witt creates a world in his Men of Myth series that appeals to readers like me greatly. Like the Beings series by F. Cooper and the End Street Detective Agency books by Amber Kell and RJ Scott, Witt’s world posits the unseen presence of paranormal beings, interacting with humans at varying degrees of awareness.
Witt promises that the Men of Myth series will continue; but the immediate saga of Brett Wright, mer-demon, and Finn de Morisco, warlock, wends its way through the second substantial volume of the trio. The third book is equally hefty. This is a series of epic scale.
Witt is not a poetic writer, but he is a good story-teller, and the gripping narrative swept me along from the beginning of Rising Frenzy, where we reacquaint ourselves with Brett, now fully engaged with the newly discovered oceanic family he discovered in the previous book Submerging Inferno (review here). As Brett copes with his new life, he continues to grieve his loss of Finn, but embraces the undersea world in which he finally feels at home. He discovers his father, Therin, and finds a new friend in Lelas, who becomes the stand-in for Sonia, his best human friend, who met a horrific fate in Submerging Inferno.
Finn, on the other hand, is wallowing in loss. Even his boisterous, loving family can’t pull him out of his grief over Brett’s abandonment. As he retreats from his family and sinks into the sordid goings-on of The Square—a sort of perverted Diagon Alley lying hidden in San Diego—Finn happens upon Schwint, a happy-go-lucky fairy. Schwint is a favorite character of mine in this book, as he becomes Finn’s ally and lover.
While most of the book is written from Brett and Finn’s perspectives, Sonia Liu reappears in an important secondary role, a third point of view that is slightly forced but ultimately essential. Sonia is a difficult character for me; the loving, flirtatious Chinese American heiress is transformed into a dazzling killer, a guiltless vampire seething with anger at her violent creation. The somewhat arbitrary cliffhanger at the end of volume two has her meeting Gwala, the ancient, waiflike monster who rules the Vampire Cathedral and who holds the strings of all our friends’ destinies.
Thus Rising Frenzy feels somewhat like a very long preamble to Clashing Tempest and the two books should really be read together for continuity. It’s a big commitment, but worth it for the fun of Brandon Witt’s vivid imagination.