SFINCS Review: Blackcap by Benjamin Aeveryn

Today’s review is about BLACKCAP by Benjamin Aeveryn. Though part of the Rainfallen universe, this novella stands on its own and is easy to follow. It’s a paranormal mystery in which Kade switches from sleuthing out human criminals, and inadvertently sending some to their deaths, to helping solve paranormal cases.

SFINCS logoThis review is brought to you by my participation in the Speculative Fiction Indie Novella Championship (SFINCS). SFINCS, pronounced “sphinx”, is a yearly competition to recognize, honor, and celebrate the talent and creativity present in the indie community. It’s a sister competition to both SPFBO and SPSFC, and it highlights greatness in the novella format in all areas of speculative fiction (fantasy, science fiction, horror, etc.). I am part of Team Behind the Musings. You can find out more about us here.

Author: Benjamin Aeveryn
Series: Rainfallen
Age Category: Adult
Publisher: Self-Published
Publish Date: June 5, 2023
Print Length: 106
Purchase: Amazon

Official Synopsis

Detective noir meets The Witcher in a post-apocalyptic city reminiscent of Victorian London.

New London is protected by a stone shelter to keep out the rainwights–the monsters that tore down civilization. It is a dark city, choked with soot and crime. On these perpetually lamplit streets, Kade Blackcap was once a famous detective.

Overburdened with guilt at sending a man to the noose, Kade can’t bear to take a case for fear of the consequences. But with the taxman breathing down his neck, he has to find work soon, or he’ll lose the house his father left him.

He has one hope left.

Instead of chasing criminals, he turns to hunting the monsters of myth his peers refuse to believe exist.

My Review

In BLACKCAP, Kade Blackcap apprenticed as a sleuth who tracks down those who commit crimes. But sometimes that means his success at closing a case results in that person’s death. Kade finds that burden too much to bear. Out of work and about to lose his family house, Kade decides to advertise his paranormal sleuthing abilities. He doesn’t expect his first case to provide such a shock.

Although BLACKCAP is part of the Rainfallen universe, it is very easy to fall in step with Kade. The author provides a broad dystopian overview of New London in which residents are overtaxed to support some long-term battle by the ruling class. It’s dirty and desolate and people just go about their day to make ends meet. I didn’t feel like I missed too much context diving right into BLACKCAP.

I also enjoyed the writing style, which is direct, but not so to the point that it’s dry and emotionless. The author characterizes Kade well so that the reader understands his inner turmoil about his profession and also his helplessness when he realizes he’s no good at anything else. So Kade reframes his skillset to sleuth out mythical creatures, a profession no one else is New London does.

The mystery revolves around several deaths with odd markings. At first glance one might suspect rainwights, which seem to form from rain and can murder humans. But as Kade starts to question and observe the news, he becomes convinced something else is afoot. I found myself invested in the mystery rooting for Kade to save his home and humanity in the process of his atypical profession. It’s a quick, absorbing read and BLACKCAP is perfect for someone who appreciates a paranormal mystery.

Rating: withheld
Content warnings: death
Reading format: Kindle e-book

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