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  • Writer's pictureJ. Griffin Hughes

from Kirkus Reviews

Updated: Apr 24, 2021

"An enthralling crime-fighting saga that focuses on the people behind the mask." - Kirkus Reviews

Most legitimate book reviewers won't bother to look at independently published novels, with one exception. Kirkus Reviews is a highly respected name in publishing, and they will take the time to read and review self-published authors for a price. It's not cheap, and it's not guaranteed to be a good review. I received a previous one for another book that was totally fair and left me feeling I should edit it into a second edition.

So, when I received notification that Kirkus had completed the review of The Crimson Wraith: Legacy of the Hood I purchased, I opened it with trepidation. Was I going to find my first novel had fallen short?

Not at all. The extended review uses words like "enthralling" and engrossing "engrossing." In referencing how I've clearly been inspired by superhero characters like Batman, it says, "Hughes wisely concentrates on the saga’s distinctive characters and their lives." And it calls "descriptions of the Crimson Wraith’s goodies at the Finn estate... a treat." Y'all, I could not have hoped for a better review--Clearly, this reader understood what I set out to do with this book, treating the personal dramas of superhero characters as if they are actual people--and found it enjoyable.

You can read the full review below.


This volume chronicles the fictional history of a superhero and the motley individuals who have donned the red hood.

Twenty-three-year-old Gracie Chapel fled her abusive household as a teenager. She grows into a capable woman who squares off against violent men in Titan City. When taking down one abuser leads to legal trouble, Gracie gets help from an unlikely source—the Crimson Wraith. He’s been the city’s resident superhero for 80 years. Around 1940, William Finn first wore a red hood and white-skull mask to “defend the defenseless.” Decades passed, and a handful of people (mostly men) took on the persona as well as that of the Crimson Wraith’s sidekick, the Wily Wisp. As Gracie learns, the superhero has a sordid background; one Crimson Wraith died in costume, and another is serving a life sentence for murder. But Titan City still needs protection from the likes of Queen Cleopatra and Dr. Oblivion. Gracie has the skills and tenacity to stand up against such supervillains, and she trains at Finn Manor to further hone her combat proficiency. She also may be able to help with a murder mystery: Someone has fatally poisoned Edward Finn, William’s adopted son and former Crimson Wraith. Gracie ultimately must decide if she wants to become a superhero. It seems like an extraordinary opportunity, but the good guys don’t win every battle. Sometimes innocent lives are lost, and Gracie wonders if the fight, in the end, is worth it.

Hughes’ engrossing book comprises four previously released novellas. Gracie’s story gives the quartet cohesion as she, along with readers, gradually absorbs the Crimson Wraith’s tumultuous history. Her narrative alternates with decades of the superhero’s tales, primarily set in the ’40s through the ’80s. The titular superhero has obvious similarities to DC Comics’ Batman, who, like William Finn, is a wealthy man with a secret crime-fighting headquarters in his manor and a frequent sidekick. But Hughes wisely concentrates on the saga’s distinctive characters and their lives. One Crimson Wraith, for example, is gay during a time that practically demands he stay in the closet; he faces a betrayal when a past lover threatens to out the superhero. The book generally takes itself seriously with few instances of humor. Likewise, the author doesn’t aim the work at young readers, as characters use profanity freely. But violence doesn’t overwhelm the volume. As Hughes favors character development over action, there aren’t many face-offs with supervillains. Still, descriptions of the Crimson Wraith’s goodies at the Finn estate are a treat: “Against one wall, an empty display case…stood amid an arsenal of smoke pellets, flash bombs, grappling irons, various pieces of surveillance equipment, a nest of flying drones” that Gracie “would learn were called Haunts, and gas canisters that must have contained the ingredients of his Infernal Mist.” While the ending resolves the murder mystery, a not-yet-caught menace suggests future stories in Titan City. Each of the work’s four parts opens with the original novella’s cover boasting Moore’s superb comic-book style.

An enthralling crime-fighting saga that focuses on the people behind the mask.

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