Thursday, February 25, 2016
In 2015, Wordfire Press published Josh Vogt's urban fantasy novel Enter the Janitor, the first installation in The Cleaners series. Somehow, I completely missed the boat on that book. Now it's in my to-read pile. However, on April 11th, the sequel will be released and I got my hands on an advanced review copy of The Maids of Wrath!
ARCs were offered in exhange for an honest review. (Seriously, Mr. Vogt went so far as to remind
folks that he didn't want "only positive reviews" but anything from not-so-great to "downright damning.") The good news - for Vogt and readers - is that The Maids of Wrath was a dazzlingly fun read.
When the Cleaners are beset with an emotion-twisting affliction, it's up to Dani and the others to find out what's going on and put a stop to it before their entire HQ is put into quarantine (which translates to a state of perpetual suspension with no known time limit). Complete with its own mystery, this entry into the Cleaners series brings up mysteries from the previous book and layers on the intrigue. There's definitely an impression that Vogt has a lot more ground to cover before the Cleaners are all washed up.
It is a sequel to the previous Cleaners series book, Enter the Janitor, and picks up with characters that I assumed were the focus of that book. However, it didn't take long before I was on my feet, as a reader, and moving along with the narrative. Vogt did a spectacular job setting up The Maids of Wrath in such a way that a reader inexperienced with the previous text could jump right in. He was also pretty light with the reminders of events from the previous novel; while I can't say from experience that they wouldn't be too repetitive for a reader of Enter the Janitor, I can say that I've read series before and recognized the light touch approach here that finds the sweet spot between too much information about a previous installment and too little. That's definitely a huge plus in this book's favor.
Beyond that, Vogt's humor is refreshing, and caused me to laugh out loud while reading more than once. In particular, Dani feels that being forbidden to use her powers during her training is "about as fair as not letting a person use their mouth in a pie-eating contest." In addition, the pacing make this an exceedingly easy read. The action never gets too amped up or bogged down. I found the characters memorable and even quite likable - those that left room to be liked (even gruff Lucy).
If you're looking for some good clean fun, you cannot go wrong with this book. Doubly so if you already loved the first one!
As a somewhat aside, Vogt gives the rather mundane notion of cleaning a whole new life in this series. At one point - when the functionality of Dani's bucket is described - I earnestly wished for a tabletop or computer RPG conversion of this universe. (This shouldn't be surprising, given Vogt's work in the world of RPGs - his debut novel, Forge of Ashes, was a Pathfinder Tales tie-in.)
The level of detail and thought throughout the novel are apparent in brilliant jewel-like moments like this.
You can pre-order Maids of Wrath through Amazon or Smashwords; links are provided on the author's page.