|Source: Author Website|
To anyone who thinks that J.K. Rowling now owns the teenage witch/wizard genre in the wake of Harry Potter, I would like to introduce them to David Estes’ latest novel, Brew. Forget the valiant struggle against evil by Hogwarts’ Gryffindor graduates. Estes’ magic-folk return to their monstrous, old-world origins—and then some.
As the novel opens, we meet Rhett Carter, a mild-mannered teen whose favorite activities include book blogging and hanging out with friends. Then, out of the blue comes “Salem’s Revenge,” a day of gruesome horror and violence against humans by the demonic witch species—punishment, they claim, for centuries of abuse at the hands of mankind. Suddenly, Rhett has no home, no family. On top of that, his two best friends, girlfriend Beth and best bud Xavier, are missing. In the aftermath of the attacks, Rhett stumbles across quiet Mr. Jackson, a neighbor and former CIA operative. He knows all about the witches, and he can show Rhett how to fight them. With Mr. Jackson’s training, Rhett now has a new goal in mind: not to just survive, but to survive long enough to find his friends, and extract sweet, sweet vengeance against those who murdered his family.
I pretty much have only good things to say about Brew. Like the teen protagonists in Estes’ Dwellers/Country Saga, his heroes and heroines are brave, stoic, and very human. The almost constant death-scenes are surprising at first, then seem only inevitable as Estes proves that he pulls no punches when it comes to character death. Another thing I liked was the lack of romance that seems so prevalent in YA fiction these days no matter what the genre. Although Rhett frequently reminisces about his girlfriend, these scenes serve to emphasize his emotional attachment to her, and end up making his desperate search all the more heart-rending. For those who found themselves fascinated by the incendiary terror found in Rick Yancey’s apocalyptic 5th Wave, I recommend Brew for Ages 16-Up.