The War Against the Assholes
Contemporary fantasy meets true crime when schools of ancient sorcery go up against the art of the long con in this stunningly entertaining debut fantasy novel.
Mike Wood is satisfied just being a guy with broad shoulders at a decidedly unprestigious Catholic school in Manhattan. But on the dirty streets of New York City he’s an everyman with a moral code who is unafraid of violence. And when Mike is unwittingly recruited into a secret cell of magicians by a fellow student, Mike’s role as a steadfast soldier begins. These magicians don’t use ritualized rote to work their magic, they use willpower in their clandestine war with the establishment: The Assholes.
me,” I said. “It’s that or the book,” he said. I picked left. He opened it. Nothing. Then he opened his right. More nothing. That’s how we ended it. Hob waving at me. Protected by the yellow lamplight and the fact that a cop car was now driving east along the edge of the park. The smoke from his cigarette hanging. Charcoal and spice. I passed out on the train. From exhaustion, from I don’t even know what. I woke up with my mouth dry and the green book in my hands. Still cold, though the train
the same cool-handed, orderly haste: spread them, cut the glue or thread that held the pages in, run the blade under the endpapers, shake out the bundles of pages. “These are called,” he said, lifting a bundle, “signatures, by the way, you ignorant ape.” I’d never heard the word used in that sense before. “I remember this book with the katydid,” he said as he sliced the bio book’s binding, “or maybe she didn’t. Fucking Katy.” The grasshopper stared, hungering, blank. His cutting drew and held my
noticed we could no longer see the stars. The cool coming off the stone, the noise of the river, and the flicker of my torch mingled. Mesmerized me. The way a long walk will. I looked up and saw flame-glow dancing off a stone vault dripping with water, festooned by red-brown weed strings. The streams of fish would cling to these. I tried to keep my torch as far away from the fish as I could. Seemed delicate. “We are officially back indoors,” said Alabama. Her voice echoed. “Yep,” I said. My voice
you guys can be a part of it. You made it happen. It’s yours. Do you understand that.” “I understand it fine,” said Alabama. She was staring into Hob’s face. Looking for a fact. One undeniable truth. Her eyes narrowed. Her lips lightly parted. “Where’s Charthouse,” she said, “where is he. Just tell me. Even if.” Almost a whisper. The bullet glowed: molten orange. It flowed upward in thin, bright threading streams, blossoming outward, darkening. I couldn’t take my eyes off it. Hob was barely
said. “No, I deserved it,” I said. True. Beyond any possible doubt. The fake poinsettia trembled in Henry’s breath as we passed through the lobby door. “For this we pay maintenance,” said my father. A long shower. I lost track of minutes. My hands pink and pruned. The ache from my run. From my sleepless night. From the art. They all mingled under the water. Hot as I could stand it. I leaned my forehead against the tiles. Smelled bleach. Shampoo. I let it all drain away. You learn to do that. If