The Shroud of A’Ranka is Tom Sniegoski’s second book in his The Brimstone Network series for young readers. I love the covers on these books because they really appeal to my pulp instincts. The cover on this one is absolutely mesmerizing. It looks like our young hero, Bram Stone, is in a world of hurt. And make no mistake, he is before you get very far into the story.
In the last book, the Brimstone Network was destroyed. That organization fought to keep back the hordes of darkness and evil that threatened to overcome our world. After they were decimated, a new group of heroes had to rise up. That plot is standard pulp fare and Sniegoski does a really good job with it, as well as creating interesting characters and a few twists.
Bram Stone (notice how the name sounds like brimstone?) is 13-years old and struggling to come to grips with his dual nature. He’s part human, and part specter. As a result, he has special powers and abilities, such as turning intangible whenever he wants to and flying. He’s joined by a girl werewolf, a young otherworldly creature with the ability to rift – travel instantaneously from one place to another, a young telekinetic who keeps his dead father around to watch over him, and Mr. Stitch, a warrior put together with parts of dead men. Definitely not your usual assortment of heroes.
In this book, the fledgling organization goes up against Vladek, a vampire who supposedly can’t be killed. Sniegoski delivers solid and engaging writing. There are chills and thrills, a smattering of historical data that almost could have been true, personal and interpersonal problems on the team, and tons of action.
I enjoyed the book a lot and it took me back to my childhood days of fantastic adventures and larger-than-life heroes. But all those heroes back then were generally adults. One of the reasons I liked Jungle Tales Of Tarzan so much when I was younger was because Tarzan was young in many of those stories.