Review: The Blade Between by Sam J Miller

  • ISBN: 9780062969828
  • ISBN 10: 006296982X
  • Imprint: Ecco
  • On Sale: 12/01/2020
  • Trimsize: 6.00 in (w) x 9.00 in (h) x 1.21 in (d)
  • Pages: 384

Preorder here: Amazon or Bookshop


From Nebula Award winner Sam J. Miller comes a frightening and uncanny ghost story about a rapidly changing city in upstate New York and the mysterious forces that threaten it.

Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge. 

Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable. 

Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real-state developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.


I was excited to see a new novel being released by the author of “Blackfish City,” a novel I bought when it came out, always had intentions to read, but did not crack the spine. This means that I requested the ARC of “The Blade Between” on my excitement over the intentions of reading Sam J. Miller’s previous, acclaimed work. 

“The Blade Between” is about Hudson, a city with a rich history. This history fills the town with ghosts of people, of whales, and of the things that it used to be. Ronan fled Hudson as soon as he was old enough to leave, but now that his father is ill, he has come back to take care of him and his legal affairs. What he discovers is a Hudson that he does not recognize. The city with the local businesses have all turned into antique shops, art dealers, and hipsters. He meets up with his old friend and lover, Dom, and his new wife, and he hatches a plan to get the town back from the outsiders. “The Blade Between” starts as one man’s crusade to get his town back, but after a short time, the town has plans of it’s own. There is a supernatural force in this town, and for a story that could be a simple, city politics story, there is a second element to it that makes it engrossing. I can say that this supernatural force is all of the ghosts of the past, but this does not seem to be a fair assessment. There are just things that the town does that some of the citizens are not even aware of. The radio station is an example, playing whatever song is perfect for whatever listener at the particular time. So much of the city has it’s own agenda, and the characters are just merely the pawns. 

For the first half, I did not think that I liked this novel that much. There was something about the way that Ronan conducted himself that made him rough and unlikable. The novel never really shifts away from him much, but there are other characters and focused actions that kind of made me forget that Ronan is kind of a jerk. For not really liking it much, I did not realize that the novel was almost 400 pages long until the end. It did not seem that long. It reads fast and the story really was interesting and well structured. This might not be enjoyable for everyone, but there are some people that I will recommend this novel to. I just know that I now have to go back and read “Blackfish City.’

I received this as an ARC from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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