Geekomancy by Michael R. Underwood


Geekomany by Michael Underwood is a love letter to pop culture. I read it in a weekend, and now two weeks later, I’m writing this review and I don’t know how to encapsulate its brilliance in just a few hundred words. It’s a fantastic romp that’s as exhilarating as it is mind-bending for all the references and the way they all meld into each other. It’s like the ultimate crossover on steroids to the nth degree, a mix of Magic: The Gathering, Star Trek, Star Wars, Highlander (yes!) and even Cinnabon rolls. The magic system is one of the most creative and becomes an unlimited conduit for everything I love: “One of the strongest effects of Geekomancy can be genre emulation-watch a movie and you can replicate the power of skills of a character.”

Movies, entertainment, comics, and pretty much anything else you can think of becomes fodder for our heroine, Ree, a struggling script-writer who gets sucked into a solving a tragic string of suicides: “All of the comics in my store might as well be single-serving superpowers as far as you’re concerned.” (Fight Club nod!) And, “I saw someone rip up an Action Comics #15 for power once… It was astonishing.”

At the same time, while the pop culture love is both humbling and enthralling in its scope, Geekomancy weaves its own tale, a mystery using those characters as backdrop. In that sense, it reminded me of another one of my favorite films, Who Framed Roger Rabbit? which, even without the characters, makes for an intriguing mystery.

I really appreciated how Underwood broadens out the extent/influence of the magic so that it’s accessible to anyone:

“Anyone passionate about something can be a magician, focus their emotional energy into impossible effects. They might never remember it, write it off as luck, or rewrite their memory so that it doesn’t break their brain.”

The story starts to head into darker territory as the mystery begins to unravel. The twisted quest incorporates some bleak ideas, like the one about Aberrant Muses as “dark reflections” of the nine muses and include: “sorrow, hatred, and jealousy.”

The macabre humor has surreal undertones that anchor themselves into the startling realization that there are stakes and costs to these powers:

“Everyone has a price. You don’t believe it until you’re the one crouched over a body harvesting its emotional by-product like some hippie vegan saving her afterbirth to freeze and cook into a casserole.”

I really enjoyed following Ree’s arc and found myself surprised with every shift in the narrative. My concluding thought? I need to get to the sequel, Celebromancy.


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