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  • Posted February 7, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    Urban Fantasy with a Jewish Flair

    "The Heist" is an excellent theme setter for this collection. This story has an urban fantasy flavor, only instead of the default setting of the world being based in nature worship-style paganism or Christianity the magic comes from a very distinct Jewish flavor.<BR/><BR/>Jimmy the Rat (a Jewish vampire), The Tzaddick (an immortal), The Rabbi (a powerful Jewish mystic) and his wickedly constructed golem Goldie come together to take down a mysterious and magical blood bank. Along the way they encounter peculiar versions of zombies and angels and a fortress that will boggle readers with its incredible level of security. It's the motley crew's job to break the fortress, to take down the blood bank and of course, collect their fee.<BR/><BR/>From there HebrewPunk moves to stories focusing on the trio individually.<BR/><BR/>"Transylvania Mission" pits The Rat against a band of Nazi werewolves searching for Dracula in the hopes of enlisting his help in their war. More could be said, but that, and awesome, sums up this tale.<BR/><BR/>"Uganda" mixes the Jewish flavor with distinct African ingredients. In this tale it's the turn of the century and The Rabbi is asked to investigate a tract of land in Eastern Africa which some people hope will become a new Jewish Homeland. Recognized as a mystic by a local tribe, he walks with them, getting a glimpse into the truth of the land, and possibly even the future. While this is a solid, interesting and richly flavored tale it feels unfinished at the end, perhaps because it's written as if compiled by a third party from multiple sources, a style that lends better to longer works.<BR/><BR/>Finally comes The Tzaddick in "The Dope Fiend", a 1920s set tale of voodoo and ghosts and how they surface in the Jewish mythos. Unfortunately this one is the weakest of the four. There are many major secondary characters that move in and out of the story, playing fairly important roles, but there's a feeling to them as if the reader should know who they are. It's not, however, guaranteed that they will. <BR/><BR/>Also a point of discontent with this story is The Tzaddick himself, who often comes off as if being a drug addict is all that he is. While there is a level of realism to this portrayal, in this story it keeps the reader from connecting with The Tzaddick as anything but a drug addict. This, and the previously mentioned crew of secondary characters, overpower the plot itself, as if Tidhar had more fun writing the characters than the story.<BR/><BR/>Altogether HebrewPunk is a collection that reveals interesting possibilities, especially for the Urban Fantasy genre who should sit up and take notice at how much space there still is in the genre outside the realm of nature based magic systems and romance melodramas.

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