The Knights of the Cornerstone
James P Blaylock
Ace, Dec 2008, $23.95
Cartoonist Calvin Bryson knows he retreated from the world by hiding behind his work and Californiana literary collection as his ex-fiancée Elaine reminded him. Now a letter from his Uncle Al Lymon inviting him to visit him and ailing Aunt Nettie arrives. It has been three years since he has visited New Cypress in the desert squeezed by the Dead Mountains and the Colorado River. He also received a package from Warren Hosmer, his ancient cousin several numbers removed, postmarked Iowa to deliver to Uncle Al.
Reluctantly Calvin, who prefers to catalogue his Californiana collection, drives to his uncle’s abode, the Knights of the Cornerstone. However before arriving at New Cyprus, someone steals the Hosmer package. Upon arrival at the Knights of the Cornerstone, Calvin explains he lost the package, but finds out that was a fake; the real item, the mythical magical artifact, the Veil of Veronica, was delivered to Uncle Al. At the Cozy Diner waitress Donna serves him his pancakes reminding him she kissed him when they were six years old, but this time he wants to initiate the kiss; instead he leaves a cartoon and a psychotic tip. However, he soon realizes that his family back in Iowa and here are embroiled with the Knights fighting their enemies for control of the veil.
THE KNIGHTS OF THE CORNERSTONE is an engaging modern day desert (can’t say urban) fantasy that sub-genre fans will enjoy even as the story line in many ways is a conventional good vs. bad saga. The reason the audience will relish this novel and want more is Calvin, who in no way comes across as hero material, but unenthusiastically tries although his instincts tell him to flee back to his reclusive lifestyle before he is literally sent to Hell. James P Blaylock provides a fun light read that showcases blood is thicker than water especially when it flows from the body.