In Nameless, Matthew Rossi created a detailed world where vampires exist and magic is real. Magic can be strengthened by either pain or pleasure – it’s the intensity that matters. Those who use magic can conjure up monsters or heroes from mythology (be it from Greek mythology or modern comic books) and send them into battle.
I found myself wanting to escape into that world which, despite its dangers, seemed to hold more hope than this one. I mean, there’s a battle where Santa and his reindeer fight a giant, antlered, monster man. I love the idea that something as pure and good as Santa, as seen by small children, can effectively take down evil! This particular battle was one of several in the book, and each was so well written that I could almost see it, as though I was watching a movie.
The book includes an ensemble cast of diverse characters, several of whom happen to be related to each other. I didn’t “count heads”, but it seemed to me that there was a fairly even mix of men and women in the book, with a balance of genders representing both good and evil. There is plenty of LGBT representation in this book, and its feels really natural. The characters are who they are.
One of the main characters is Thea, who starts out living in her car. She meets Thomas at a party. The two form a strong bond with each other almost immediately. It makes sense for that to happen. Each of them is mourning the loss of their parents, and each has encountered their parent’s ghosts. Shared tragedy tends to draw people closer together, and their unusual situations match well enough. They certainly weren’t going to find anyone else to share that with.
Matthew Rossi writes very vivid characters. He includes the color of their eyes, their current hair styles, patterns of thought, and personal interests. Thea and Thomas felt so real to me that I wanted to go hang out with them, have coffee, and swap ghost stories. All of Rossi’s characters felt detailed and real – but there was something about Thea and Thomas that made me love them right away.
The story unfolds through twists and turns and I really don’t want to spoil any of that adventure in this book review. Instead, I’ll be vague. There are bad things happening that seem to target Thomas, Thea, and Thea’s cousins. They struggle to put all the pieces together – to find out who or what is causing this – and to figure out how to stop it.
Magic, in this world, is a “learn as you go” kind of a thing. This isn’t the Harry Potter series where you must learn specific words, and wave a wand a certain way, in order to cast a spell. It’s not Dungeons & Dragons where magic users must spend hours studying and memorizing standard spells. Instead, magic is something that is as individuated as a person’s voice, and it can vary based on the song.
The “big bad” in the book is both terrifying and fascinating. She does some absolutely horrific and disgusting things to innocent people. It would have been easy to make her a “cookie-cutter” character that represents evil. But, Rossi gives the reader more than that. The “big bad” has a backstory that puts things into context without excusing the evil deeds the “big bad” has done.
I absolutely loved Nameless. It was thrilling, and scary, and passionate, and undoubtedly one of the most exciting books that I have read. The story, and the characters, provided me with a wonderful escape from reality. Nameless is the first book in a trilogy – so there is more of this world to explore after you finish this book.