Eldred Henstare was given more than just an unusual name by his mother; he was also given guardianship over his city, to serve as a witch and guide the restless undead to their final sleep. On this night, however, the uneasy spirits are leading him to a lighthouse. In the rain, in the cold. In fact, it’s a dark and stormy night, which is the perfect time to meet tall, dark, and handsome.
Mo Vin — who also had a mother with a sense of humor — has the perfect life. A cottage next to a lighthouse right on the edge of the ocean and all the peace and quiet a man can handle until a red headed stranger ends up on his dooryard, greeting him by throwing a handful of salt in his face. Needless to say, it isn’t love at first sight. No, it’s just plain confusion, which turns into a more complex form of confusion as Eldred talks of witches, waves his hands in the air, and shoves Mo. Hard. In case he’s a spirit.
When Mo finally gets rid of the strange fellow, however, the strangeness just gets worse. He’s seeing … a ghost? A vision? He sees himself — a misty shape that looks like him — trudging up the beach. It brings with it dreams of drowning, visions of hanging himself, and the sound of water churning in his ears. It’s enough to drive him mad, might have done just that if Eldred hadn’t come back into his life. Now it’s up to Eldred and his brother, Lachtin, to dispel the creature haunting Mo before it kills him.
While this is the second book in the Tattooed Corpse series, it reads quite easily as a stand-alone. Having never read the first story, myself, I had no difficulties diving right in. Eldred is amusing. He’s a great mix of audacious assertiveness and good-natured obliviousness. One minute he’s shoving at Mo to see if he can pass through him and the next admiring the decidedly physical body in front of him.
Mo is the traditional straight man, so to speak, grounded in reality and confused by mumblings of witchcraft, grounding, spirits, and pentagrams. He’s also the lesser developed of the two, but considering that Eldred and Mo had only just met — the story takes place over a handful of days — I’m confident that there’s more to come as Eldred demanded that Mo take him on a date as a reward for saving his life.