Publisher: Blackstone Publishing
Publish Date: 13 October 2020
Page Count: 260 pages
You can’t pick your family, but maybe you can exorcize them
Today is my stop on the TheWriteReads‘ blog tour for David R. Slayton‘s debut novel, White Trash Warlock! A big thanks to the author and TheWriteReads for the opportunity to join in. Without the event, I might not have discovered this novel with its attention-grabbing title and plot that immediately hooked me in.
White Trash Warlock is an urban fantasy with a healthy dose of Americana. It introduces Adam Binder, a twenty-something sort-of witch from Oklahoma, who’s meagre magical ability allows him to see into an invisible world inhabited by spirits and magical creatures.
Finding it difficult to get a job after dropping out of high school, Adam spends his time hunting down trivial works of black magic that fall beneath the local Guardians’ notice. He hopes these items will lead him to an enigmatic warlock, and perhaps his father who left when he was a kid.
When he receives a message from his estranged brother who claims his wife is possessed, Adam reluctantly travels to Denver to investigate. But when he arrives, the witches of Denver are missing, a policeman is dead, and Adam has attracted the attention of a dark entity.
Realising that this spirit could endanger far more than his sister-in-law, Adam bargains with royal elves, leprechauns and gnomes to put an end to the sinister threat.
White Trash Warlock is the gay, Southern American response to ‘traditional’ real-world fantasy books. There’s no cupboard under the stairs, magical school, or fated (probably straight) romance. Instead, Adam lives in a trailer park, spent his teenage years in a psych ward, and the closest he’s had to a love interest is a handsome elf who disappeared without explanation.
But more than a unique urban fantasy with a Southern flair, White Trash Warlock has a touch of horror, mystery, and m/m romance. I couldn’t help but think this book is also a rather personal story, with moments of comedy, sorrow, and personal growth.
Adam is a likeable and relatable protagonist, full of good intentions while also battling his own, less literal demons. He has a complicated family dynamic to deal with: his brother and mother admitted him to a psychiatric facility for hearing voices as a teenager, despite being more or less aware of the existence of magic. While there is a pleasant absence of homophobia in the story, Slayton explores Adam’s feelings of being an outsider through his magical abilities and the beliefs of his family, which I think a lot of LGBT folk and people in general can relate to. I loved seeing Adam’s relationships and sense of self-worth evolve throughout the story.
I found the whole Binder family to be engaging, complex characters; they feel like real people, set back in life by factors often outside of their control.
Slayton’s magical realm is a hodgepodge of mythological creatures and spirits, loosely governed by Guardian towers that are tethered to the corporeal world. Adam visits the other side a few times throughout the book, however it feels like Slayton still has much to reveal.
White Trash Warlock is a unique and inclusive fantasy story with unpredictable surprises and a nicely constructed climax. Its the first instalment in The Adam Binder Novels, which I’ll definitely be keeping up with for as long as Slayter writes them.
Trigger warnings: familial abuse, death, miscarriage
About the Author
David R. Slayton grew up in Guthrie, Oklahoma, where finding fantasy novels was pretty challenging and finding fantasy novels with diverse characters was downright impossible. Now he lives in Denver, Colorado, with his partner, Brian, and writes the books he always wanted to read. White Trash Warlock is his first novel. In 2015, David founded Trick or Read, an annual initiative to give out books along with candy to children on Halloween as well as uplift lesser-known authors or those from marginalized backgrounds. Find him online at www.DavidRSlayton.com.