The Holver Alley Crew (The Streets of Maradaine – 1) by Marshall Ryan Maresca
Mixing high fantasy and urban fantasy, The Holver Alley Crew is the first novel of Maresca’s third interconnected series set in the fantasy city of Maradaine– The Streets of Maradaine
The Rynax brothers had gone legit after Asti Rynax’s service in Druth Intelligence had shattered his nerves, and marriage and fatherhood convinced Verci Rynax to leave his life of thievery. They settled back in their old neighborhood in West Maradaine and bought themselves a shop, eager for a simple, honest life. Then the Holver Alley Fire incinerated their plans. With no home, no shop, and no honest income—and saddled with a looming debt—they fall back on their old skills and old friends.
With a crew of other fire victims, Asti and Verci plan a simple carriage heist, but the job spirals out of control as they learn that the fire was no accident. Lives in Holver Alley were destroyed out of a sadistic scheme to buy the land. Smoldering for revenge, burdened with Asti’s crumbling sanity, the brothers lead their crew of amateurs and washouts to take down those responsible for the fire, no matter the cost.
Marshall Ryan Maresca grew up in upstate New York and studied film and video production at Penn State. He now lives Austin with his wife and son. His work appeared in Norton Anthology of Hint Fiction and Rick Klaw’s anthology Rayguns Over Texas. He also has had several short plays produced and has worked as a stage actor, a theatrical director and an amateur chef. His novels The Thorn of Dentonhill and A Murder of Mages each begin their own fantasy series, both set in the port city of Maradaine.
Asti and Verci Rynax were raised by a conman and have been surviving with those skills. But they want to turn legitimate and start their own business. Both brothers invest everything they have for their little shop. But a fire destroys the street, including their shop and house. They create a gang with several other shop owners and intend on robbing a carriage. But Asti stumbles upon some information that the fire was set intentionally so the land could be bought out. Now all bets are off as the crew plans a heist against the gambling house that took everything from them.
Ten people come together to heist a carriage initially then the gambling house. All ten are introduced in a way that you are not overwhelmed and all pay a specific role in the heists. I love how between the seriousness of the heists they all joke around and mesh well together. But I really enjoyed the locations. There is almost a shop for anything you could think of and the neighbors and willing to help out each other.
This is my first book from Marshall Ryan Maresca and I loved it. I can’t wait to see what happens in the next books in the series. I will be on the lookout for Maresca’s other books too.
I receive The Holver Alley Crew from the publisher for free. This has in no way influenced my opinion of this book.
“Do it!” she said. He let go of her hand, and she slid off to the ground. Her landing was sloppy, almost falling on her face before Asti caught her. Raych gasped and clutched at Asti. A moment later she was fumbling at the straps, desperate to get the baby out of his pack. Verci slid down, land- ing on the ground with practiced grace.
“That’s the whole place,” Asti said. The locksmith shop and the apartments above it were all burning.
The shop next door was burning as well. And the one next to it. The fire spread down Holver Alley as far as Asti could see. Every building was wood and plaster, pressed next to each other, nothing to stop it all from catching.
An old man grabbed Asti’s shoulder. “Look at that, Rynax! That’s magic fire, isn’t it? Has to be!”
“No, no,” he said, coming up with an answer that was somewhere between fabrication and gut instinct. “Magical fire always burns hotter, with blue and white flames.” Asti knew hardly anything about magic, but that was more than anyone else in Holver Alley. His word might be enough to quell wild rumors about mages starting this.
“Where’s Win?” Verci asked, looking around the crowd. “And the girls?” Asti glanced about. Winthym Greenfield wasn’t anywhere, nor were his wife and daughters.
“Did they get out on the other side?” Raych asked, holding her baby close to her chest.
“No chance,” Verci said. Asti knew the question was ridiculous, but bit his tongue. Greenfield’s shop was built right up against a solid brick wall, the back of the row houses on Kenner Street.
“They must be trapped,” Asti said. The shop windows were dark, covered in iron bars. No way to see in or break through. Asti touched the door of the shop. It was still cool.
“Asti, what are you doing?” Raych cried.
Asti tried the door, but it was locked. Of course it would be. “Verci, can you . . .” he called out, but his brother was already at his side.
Verci looked at the lock carefully. “Win’s very good,” he muttered. “It would take me at least five minutes.”
“No time for that,” Asti said. He scanned the crowd. Raych was in the center of his vision, screaming at them. Far behind her, towering over the crowd, was just the person he was hoping to find. Julien Kesser, the biggest bruiser on Holver Alley.