White Trash Warlock is a hell of a good urban fantasy that stands heads above most stories in the genre. If you are looking for a story that incorporates realistic characters, good pacing, an exciting magic system, and LGBTQIA representation. This is the book for you.
“I didn’t say that,” Robert said.
“You think it,” Adam said. “You think we’re all trash because we don’t have nice cars and ugly houses. Life isn’t just about money.”
I am someone who has read extensively in urban fantasy. It had been my choice genre until about three years ago when I became more interested in dark fantasy and graphic novels. I have read hundreds upon hundreds of books in the genre. Many follow a very formulaic structure. The main character is plucky but down on their luck, or they probably do investigations of some sort and are either a wizard, warlock, or witch. Sometimes even a druid like in the great Kevin Hearne novels, The Iron Druid Chronicles. Plot-wise, there is a massive problem with the protagonist’s city or family. Usually, a big baddie comes to kill magic practitioners or the protagonist’s family and friends. Or protagonist must go through some transformation and become something else. It can be formulaic, but I don’t mind that. It is part of the joy of the genre; not every author has to reinvent the wheel to tell an engaging and thought-provoking story. I bring this up because while White Trash Warlock does have some of the genre’s more formulaic tropes and tendencies. i.e., a big bad boss that only the protagonist can kill, but at no time when reading White Trash Warlock did I feel it was stale. Quite the contrary, Slayton took some formulaic tropes and twisted them around a bit. He made something that could be an old hat, exciting.
The plot of the story rolls out thus. Adam Binder is a sensitive man. Sensitive in being able to feel the energies of the paranormal. He has a gift or a curse, depending on how you view it. This sensitivity rules his life, and he tries to work around it; he is often overwhelmed by the energies and feelings of masses of people. “Adam Binder hasn’t spoken to his brother in years, not since Bobby had him committed to a psych ward for hearing voices.” Being committed causes great turmoil between Bobby and Adam, as it should. Something dark and murderous possesses Bobby’s wife, Adam comes to Colorado from rural Oklahoma to see if he can help. This dark thing that is infecting people in the city is a power unlike anything Adam has ever seen, and to survive, he must call on energies above his paygrade. Plus, there is a great love triangle and banter with immortals of all sorts.
“He wants to help you. It’s okay to ask for things, Adam. It’s okay to need or want things for yourself.”
Adam is brash and egotistical at times, but at other times he is calm and broken. The author does an excellent job of walking the line of not being too much of either quality. It adds authenticity to Adam’s character. Furthermore, Adam and his brother Robert’s backstory and family drama are infinitely more in-depth than the usual passing mention of a troubled past. Their pasts have defined who they are. It shows in the way they talk and interact with each other. I connected with these characters in ways that I did not from authors like Laurell K. Hamilton or Jim Butcher’s urban fantasy. We learn about the backstory of the main characters Anita and Dresden in those series, but it takes a lot of time and books to make the connection that White Trash Warlock sought to make right away. That makes White Trash Warlock stand above its contemporaries in the urban fantasy genre.
The pacing of the tale is smooth, with action and bits of horror in all the right spots. My only complaint about the story was it was too short. I wanted more from author David Slayton. Not a bad complaint to have, and I am desperately hoping for a sequel as the story ends in the perfect spot to jump into another book.
“Bobby gripped his fork. “I just want you to be happy, Adam, to be-”
“Normal. I know,” Adam said, trying to keep calm. “But I’m not normal, Bobby. And I don’t want to be. Stop trying to fix me.”
Also, author David Slayton wrote and is essential to mention that Adam Binder lives in a state of food insecurity. It is quite the contrast to his brother Bobby, a doctor who lives a very fluffy life in a big house where he never has to worry about what he will eat next. Adam also has been witness to and been the victim of domestic violence. Adam is also gay and has faced discrimination from his family. All of these aspects of Adam’s life enhance Adam’s character and give it, again, authenticity. None of the writing that Slayton did regarding these aspects of Adam’s life come off preachy or forced. It feels like Slayton touched on all these things with great sensitivity and understanding.
So, if you dig urban fantasy that is deep, well written. It has excellent characters, pacing, and plot, and an authentic lead protagonist White Trash Warlock is for you. It is a hell of a good book.