Ultramarine: A Blake Casull Story. By Milton BlackwellFirst of all, just let me tell you how excited I am to be writing this post. A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine started tossing around the idea of self-publishing a serial. After a few conversations about his ideas and reading some drafts, I’m so thrilled to announce that Milton Blackwell’s first novella, Ultramarine, will be available on Amazon tomorrow, March 1 is now available on Amazon.com! (Buy it here!)

Milt (sh! he doesn’t like to be called that, really, but I do it anyway) gave me the go-ahead to review his book before it’s available to buy. I’ll preface this by saying that, sure, my review might be a little skewed because I adore the author, but I really am being honest.

Ultramarine is the first in a series about Blake Casull, a gun-for-hire living in Purgatory. He falls for a girl, Mara, and things seem great, but, as Blackwell writes “Heaven doesn’t end.” And Blake and Mara aren’t in Heaven.

It’s also I think what called that girl’s sweet face back into my mind.  While we were lost souls, she didn’t have any baggage from a previous life.  She was as fresh as she was eternal.  So what if she’d blown me off and walked out the door.  I mean, who was I to her?  Just another tough for hire in a dive bar nursing a dirty martini.  She was a drink of cold water.  She was pure.  And it was becoming clear–  I hadn’t fallen for anyone this hard since I’d been dead.

I have to admit that Ultramarine is probably not a book I would just pick up if I found it somewhere. But it is really, really good. There’s love and mystery, there’s intrigue, and, being set in Purgatory, there are people who it’s hard to tell exactly where loyalties lie.

There’s lots of grey area.

I’d followed up.  I’d done my diligence.  I’d checked accounts.  I even checked for permission to smash a spoiled bastard’s face in.  But I was following the rules.  The rules were supposed to be my straight-and-narrow out of this dump of an afterlife. It was feeling less like a second chance and more like a final destination now.

Blackwell captures the noir-detective tone really well. There’s interesting description and seen setting. And, even though I didn’t love the resolution to this particular Blake Casull tale, it is convincing and appropriate. It seems like what Blake Casull would do. Can you ask for more?

If you’re into shorts, serials, things that are somewhat fantastical, or mysteries with interesting POV characters, I think this is a great novella to grab. If you’re into things celestial or elemental, this story will also perhaps grab your attention. I love the idea of water being able to take shape at its well, just to live a different kind of life.

A minute ago we were locked in passion.  Now she was just a wet spot on the mattress.

That being said, this is not a nice story. It’s dark. It’s a bit gritty. I don’t think there’s a lot of hope, even though Casull and others in Purgatory, as he often says, aren’t damned yet. There’s even some sex.

The last thing I’ll say is that the reading is delightfully rewarding, especially considering it takes only a couple of hours to complete. Milton’s already working on the next installment, Coal Miner’s Slaughter, set to come out in May. This is good because I’m definitely eager to know what happens next with Casull and Purgatory.

If you’re interested in following up on Milton, you can check out his Facebook page or his (brand new) Blog.