Title: The Devil Pulls the Strings
Author: J.W. Zarek
Publisher: J.W. Zarek
Genre: Fantasy, Adventure
First Publication: 2021
Book Summary: The Devil Pulls the Strings by J.W. Zarek
Set in modern-day Wentzville, MO, New York City, and 1813 Genoa, Italy, weaves bromance, Slavic mythology, secret societies, Paganini’s music and time travel.
Twenty two year old Boone Daniels has problems, debilitating panic attack, gut-wrenching guilt, a wendigo haunting him since age six, and now he almost killed his best friend in a joust. But when he fills in for his injured friend at a New York gig, he goes to meet the gig’s contact at his NYC brownstone. A body falls from the brownstone balcony and the place explodes with gun fire. Boone barely escapes but uncovers a sinister plot to perform a rare Paganini piece that summons the Devil to trap Baba Yaga and destroy modern-day New York City.
He then finds himself on a race through time, to capture the cursed melody. Along the way, a Romani immortal, steampunk vampires and Baba Yaga set the stage for war, and Boone shall have to risk death for redemption. All Boone wants is to keep a promise to a friend. The same friend, he almost killed last Sunday during a joust.
Can a small-town Missouri musician outplay the supernatural and save NYC’s soul?
Book Review: The Devil Pulls the Strings by J.W. Zarek
The Devil Pulls the Strings is a hauntingly beautiful novel that will stay with you forever! Life is often full of beauty and joy. But life can also be cruel and painful at times. In this book, author Joe Zarek embodies both the wonderful and terrible aspects of life. Boone Daniels, who is now twenty-two years old, has been plagued by difficulties such as terrible panic attacks, upsetting guilt, and a wendigo haunting him ever since he was six years old.
In a tragic jousting accident, he almost killed his closest friend, Flynn. Following this horrible incident, Boone Daniels has promised to fill in for Flynn at a gig that is scheduled to take place in New York City. While searching for professor Stone, Flynn’s contact, Boone arrives at the scene of the professor’s death just in time. After squeaking out of danger, Boone discovers a devious plot to play an obscure piece by Paganini that would invoke the presence of the devil, causing Baba Yaga to be captured and bringing about the destruction of modern-day New York City.
Boone becomes involved in a centuries-old conflict between the two secret societies who are singularly focused on recovering three priceless pieces of composition by Niccolò Paganini. During this time, he is accompanied by Sapphire, a skilled violinist and professor Stone’s secretary. Sapphire and Boone have discovered that the combination of these three pieces, when performed together, has the power to call out the Devil. Along the way, a Romani immortal, steampunk vampires, and Baba Yaga set the situation for war, and Boone will have to risk his life. Will he be able to get there in time to prevent the destruction of the world and New York City?
Narrated in lyrical prose, Mr. Joe Zarek weaves a tale no less compelling for its slow, gradual development. Like all the best fantasy tales, the author draws on the setting to create an atmosphere that promises magic and suggests many horrors. One reason why this book works so well is that the stakes remain extremely high throughout the entire story. Everything seems hopeless, and you see no way out. You keep waiting for the protagonist to get a break, but then things keep getting worse, and even worse. But there is also a sense of hope in spite of all the darkness, of wonder and discovery, of healing and renewal. A hope for an end to the vicious cycle of violence.
The music itself becomes a character, fierce and vengeful, creepy and cunning, and so powerful. The magic pours out of this beautiful story, and the more we learn about this world, the more we want to know. The characters are excellent, the descriptions of magic and creatures are brilliant and original, and the story is action-packed from start to finish, yet the author manages to fit in character development and to engage the reader’s emotions as they follow Boone’s journey.
The world-building in this book was fantastic. Firstly, there is no learning curve, the story starts small and expands slowly and subtly, we are never bombarded with information. Secondly, this novel creates an incredible atmosphere that makes the story even more captivating. Mr. Zarek based the world on Slavic mythology and folklore, which added another layer of originality and authenticity to the whole. The world was dark and whimsical, and coupled with the author’s beautiful writing, this book is unputdownable.