Consider this more of a Series Spotlight, because I’m going to keep all of this as spoiler-free as humanly possible. I don’t want to ruin a minute of this for you, dear reader. I cannot express how much I want you to read this book. You have to read its predecessor, POUGHKEEPSIE, first. So, let’s start there.
I suppose I should mention right up front that this series was conceived as TWILIGHT fan fiction. I’ve read some TWILIGHT-inspired tales that I’ve liked and some that I’ve loved. This series takes a decidedly different turn from any of them and, in my humble opinion, improves upon the sparkly vampire-based series ten-fold. There are minor comparisons to some of the characters, but nothing that jumped out at me. I’m a lukewarm lover of TWILIGHT in novel form. I actually like a couple of the films, but that might be about scenes like this one.
I digress… Whatever it was about the crew from Forks, WA, they’ve spawned some of my favorite novels and characters of the past 5 years. I’m beyond grateful.
So, let’s compare briefly.
First, it’s not a fantasy. Ok, well, maybe it’s urban fantasy, but no creatures of the night appear. However, this is where Debra Anastasia’s writing shines brightest. The whole time I was reading POUGHKEEPSIE, I kept imagining it as a graphic novel. This entire series BEGS to be made into a paid-cable series. Anastasia deftly develops characters that are either all too human or some kind of Incredibles-type super hero.
The entire series starts to move from a premise that’s really hard to swallow (good college girl falls in love with a homeless man) into something that I couldn’t put down. It OWNED ME for an entire day. I just had to see where it was all going to go. I thought it was just going to be a simple boy meets girl romance. Um, I was WRONG.
Now, for the record, there IS romance and some extremely hot sex throughout both novels. It’s never the basis of the plot, though, which I’m so grateful for. It’s explicit when it needs to be, but often Anastasia just lets a scene go just so far so that she can lead her characters to a better place later, when it’s time. Everything is connected to everything and everyone in POUGHKEEPSIE, so don’t lose track of characters. You’ll hear about them again.
There are a number of anti-heroes strewn about. My favorite television anti-heroes (Don Draper, Jimmy Darmody, Walter White) are in good company in Poughkeepsie.
I should talk about the tattoo for a second. The brotherhood of these novels was born from hard knocks and was cemented in a particular foster care placement for Beckett, Blake and Cole. Their relationship is marked with a unique tattoo pictured on the first book’s cover.
Beckett, the dagger, runs an organized crime ring. His sole intent is to protect his brothers from any harm now that they’re adults. Blake, the treble clef, is a musician of rare, mysterious talent. He’s homeless due to a number of psychological factors that are addressed throughout the first novel. Cole, the cross, has decided to give his life to God and apprentices with a local Catholic priest.
Enter the McHugh sisters, Livia and Kyle. They, of course, change everything about the brothers. Their mother abandoned them years ago and their father, John, is police officer, which makes this whole dance that much trickier.
And, quite frankly, this should be their theme song.
The supporting characters aren’t window dressing. Eve, the most layered and interesting (to me) character in the story only gets better as the novels progress. She has this whole light to dark personae that’s fascinating to see unfold. She’s sort of like Alias’ Sydney Bristow, but FAR more badass because she’s not working for any government agencies. She’s only bent on revenge, and it’s oddly not as sweet or easy as she expected it to be. Oh, and it’s seriously delicious, too.
Eve is somewhere between
Come to think of it…her love interest is a bit like The Dread Pirate Roberts. So many awesome comparisons abound, but let me be VERY clear. Every character in POUGHKEEPSIE and RETURN TO POUGHKEEPSIE feels unique. Again, the stigma of fan fiction suggests a lack of originality. I assert the fact that I can draw lines to so many strong, well-defined characters from other books, movies and TV shows only suggests that THESE characters are strong and well defined, not to mention compulsively readable.
And, we haven’t even talked about Mouse. Yes, epic graphic novel grist here. The characters’ names are clearly quite evocative.
If you read the first book for NO other reason, you need to read it for the chapter called Patterns, because it’s everything you ever needed to know about my most beloved character.
You see, Mouse is a knitter. He always has yarn and needles, like any good knitter. He’s also a badass, highly skilled thug/assassin. You’ll find him holed up, guarding people he’s tasked to hurt, knitting a ski mask for his fellow thugs. He drives an old hearse with flames on the side. It’s FULL of yarn (and sometimes dead bodies). He’s the reason the brotherhood’s tattoos change for RETURN TO POUGHKEEPSIE. You’ll notice the ball of yarn and needles in that treble clef. Not baddass enough yet? Reframe that, my friend.
Now, go right now and pick up both of these amazing novels. You’ll even get a sneak peek at the third novel in The Poughkeepsie Brotherhood Series at the end of RETURN TO POUGHKEEPSIE.
Fair warning. Debra Anastasia IS going to own you for a while. I assure you, you’ll LOVE being wrapped up in her mind. No zip ties or daggers required.
Click here to enter to win all kinds of POUGHKEEPSIE awesomeness, including:
A signed print set of The Poughkeepsie Series
10 – white gold charm bracelets with Poughkeepsie-inspired charms
10 – Livia’s paper rose wedding bouquets
10 – signed Poughkeepsie train schedules
10 – cardboard piano key chains
ebook copies of The Poughkeepsie Series
Find RETURN TO POUGHKEEPSIE on the interwebz