Thank you to Blackstone Publishing/NetGalley for a copy of Deadbeat Druid in exchange for an honest review.
Adam Binder has lost what matters most to him. Having finally learned the true identity of the warlock preying on his family, what was supposed to be a final confrontation with the fiend instead became a trap that sent Adam’s beloved Vicente into the realm of the dead, where none living are meant to be.
Bound by debt, oath and love, Adam blazes his own trail into the underworld to get Vicente back, and to end the threat of the warlock once and for all.
But the road to hell is paved with far more than good intentions. Demons are hungry, and ghosts are relentless, and what awaits Adam in the underworld is nothing he is prepared to face.
If that weren’t enough, Adam has one more thing he must do if he and Vicente are to return to the world of the living: find the lost heart of Death herself. — From the publisher.
What is going on?
Deadbeat Druid is the third book in David R. Slayton‘s Adam Binder series. This review contains spoilers for the first two books (White Trash Warlock and Trailer Park Trickster). If you don’t want major spoilers for the series, skip this section. Some background:
Adam Binder is a low-powered, young-adult warlock whose Trauma has led him to keep everyone at arm’s length, even those he loves. Growing up gay and magical in a small Oklahoma town was hard, and his family didn’t react well to either. It didn’t help that Death was behind the scenes, manipulating the Binder family for her own long game.
At the end of Trailer Park Trickster, Adam learns that his great-grandfather is a druid gone rogue (he was murdering his family’s children in order to live forever). To make things worse, Adam’s boyfriend fell into Hell. And Adam turned himself into a warlock, which is dangerous and painful.
Sarte was right …
… Hell is other people. Or at least our unresolved issues with them. I’m not sure whether Slayton’s depiction of the underworld is Hell or some sort of purgatory. But, in either case, the philosophical ramifications are mighty. The “Bad Place,” as he imagines it, is not a place I’d want to be, but there is actually a sort of tranquillity to the horror of the demons and ghosts there.
Closure is a running theme throughout Deadbeat Druid, which makes sense; I’m not sure if this is the last-last Adam Binder book, but it certainly feels like the end of a trilogy. At that level, this novel functions very well. Adam confronts the people he needs to and learns lessons he needs to learn. Deadbeat Druid cements his growth, which began in Warlock.
I’m glad we again spent time in Vic’s head (his POV began in Trickster). His personality is a stark contrast to Adam’s, making it a welcome break from the wonderful chaos that is Adam’s mind. Additionally, it’s very effective to relive some of the events from Warlock from Vic’s perspective, as we didn’t get that at the time.
You get a theme, and you get a theme!
One of David R. Slayton’s biggest strengths is that he seamlessly weaves many Big Ideas into what might otherwise seem to be a “simple” urban fantasy. Deadbeat Druid again touches on climate change — though to a lesser extent than in Trickster — as well as generational trauma and personal identity. In the life-or-death stakes of a book like this, it’s easy to forget how young these characters are; the ease with which they talk about switching careers reminds you that they’re in their early 20s.
I really appreciated that Slayton dove deeper into what it means for Vic to be a cop in today’s world. I loved Adam’s radical acceptance. If I have any quibble with this book, it’s the amount of time Adam and Vic spend apart. Throughout the series, we don’t spend much time with them when they’re together, which makes it somewhat hard to buy into their love.
If there are more novels, I’d like to see them fighting things together rather than rescuing one another. It’s a personal thing, but I prefer to read about couples working together and through things rather than apart.
Should you read it?
It’s always interesting writing a review of a sequel. Those who’ve already read and enjoyed the other book(s) will read the sequel no matter what I say. So to those who already love the Adam Binder novels: Yes, yes, yes! Go forth and read Deadbeat Druid. It’s every bit as wonderful and magical as the rest of the series. And to those who have yet to begin the series: You have about a week before Deadbeat Druid comes out. That’s plenty of time to catch up.
Deadbeat Druid is out on October 18, 2022. Pick up a copy at your local indie bookstore or library. 📚💀🧝♀️
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