Review: Double or Nothing by Craig Schaefer

The blurb for this book contains potential spoilers for those who haven’t read this far in the series, so rather than post it I’ll just link to it here.

Double or Nothing is the seventh book in Craig Shaefer’s Daniel Faust series. I’ll assume some prior knowledge here (Las Vegas sorcerer involved in crime and mixed up with Hell, literally), but even if you’ve never read one of these books before, hopefully this review will give you a rough idea of what you’re in for. No spoilers.

As usual, this outing showcases Schaefer’s deft writing style and skill with plot and story structure. It’s well-balanced, but with an adrenaline-fuelled pace – and the stakes and tension just keep climbing. A lot of our favourite characters from previous books are involved in this one, and we are more deeply immersed in this world – discovering new aspects of it and learning more about the overarching Big Bad as we go.

I’m tempted to go into plot specifics and characters arcs at this point, but there’s so much weight of history from the previous novels behind both of those that I’d be writing a thesis. Suffice it to say that the plot is resolved organically, staying true to all the characters’ natures that we’ve come to know so completely. And Daniel Faust’s own character journey is interesting, satisfying, and will make you pine for what’s coming next.

What really amazes me about Schaefer’s books though – and is evident in this one – is the sheer amount of layers, scope, and texture he weaves into his stories. It’s staggering; on par with any epic fantasy series running today. There are no throwaway lines or moments, no inconsequential characters. Sure, you can enjoy this book as a quick entertaining read, but the option’s there that if you want more, you simply have to pay attention and begin mining the textual layers. I’ve yet to hit the bottom. And it all runs together from book to book, one giant sprawling story (moving across his different series, even).

Of course, there’s a danger with this type of storytelling, when the ending of one book is the inciting incident of the next, that the books on their own will lack resolution and fail to satisfy. But that’s where Schaefer perfectly marries the thrill of enthusiastic, wonder-filled storytelling with the craft of storytelling, the hard work. Each novel works as a jigsaw piece that nevertheless is a complete picture in itself. And it leaves you craving more.

I also want to mention the spectacular cover designed by James T. Egan of Bookfly Design. He’s done consistently great covers for this series, and it’s always an added bonus to see what’s going to grace the front of the next Faust novel.

If you’re familiar with the series but haven’t read Double or Nothing yet, finish whatever you’re reading and bump it up the TBR pile. Five out of five stars. And if you’ve never read a Faust novel before, please, do yourself a favour and go pick up a copy of The Long Way Down and start at the beginning. Even if you’re not a particularly big fan of urban fantasy, these novels are edge-of-your-seat entertainment with deeply human cores. You’ll have a hell of a time.

An incredible read.

You can learn more about Craig Schaefer here, and Double or Nothing is available from Amazon.co.uk here. I read the UK Kindle edition.

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