|There ought to be a word for what Jesse Bullington does, and
that word ought to be "medievalpunk". Or possibly "Grimmpunk".
his debut, The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart, Bullington's new novel The
Enterprise of Death is set in Europe during the Middle Ages, and features a
generous quantity of folk-tale monsters and eldritch magic. Unlike its forebear, this book
includes protagonists you can sympathise with! Nasty things still happen, but this time
they happen to nice (-ish) characters - I'm not sure if that's better or worse.
The story follows an unwilling necromancer's apprentice as she scours early 16th
century Europe for the grimoire that will free her from the curse put on her by her
mentor. Along the way she teams up with Niklaus Manuel - a genuine historical figure,
famous for his paintings and engravings (the picture on the cover is one of his) but here
moonlighting as a mercenary with the Swiss army - and a lesbian gunsmith who dreams of
running the finest brothel in France. Their adventures are rarely pleasant, but never less
than gripping, with some hilarious diversions - notably their encounters with the
alchemist Paracelsus - and several surprising twists.
The Enterprise of Death is filthy, foul-mouthed, funny and heartfelt,
often all at once. Worth a look.