Comet Press US
Paperback, August 1, 2011
Review by Darkeva
I can’t remember a time when I haven’t enjoyed martial arts, either other people doing it in movies, video games, live demos, or doing it myself (well, except for karate, which I found was too choreographed), and even though Jean Claude Van Damme’s early comedies (er, films) looked cool for the most part, I didn’t really care about martial arts again until I saw Georges St. Pierre in the ring for the first time: agile, graceful, but fierce. He reignited my love for martial arts, this time specifically for Muay Thai kickboxing, which I’ve been doing since early this year. If the men’s division in UFC got me excited, the women’s matches attracted me even more with people like Gina Carano and Cristiane “Cyborg” Santos to name a few, which was why Scarla by B.C. Furtney intrigued me. Couple the concept of a pro female kickboxer gone off the rails with a supernatural disaster and you’ve got a story that packs one hell of a punch.
This is a movie beginning to be made, something that has far more emotion and creativity than recent lacklustre and horrendous attempts at the “unrealistically hot (and usually man-hating) girl who kills people and blows stuff up” genre with such fare as Domino with Kiera Knightley and Columbiana with Zoe Saldana. Scarla starts with with an exciting hook that establishes the self-titled main character’s line of work, that of an undercover cop who is in posing as a hooker in this case (although she does much more than posing, if you catch my drift. After all, she has to be convincing). She finds an interesting way to snuff the one on top of her, and from a compromising position, too.
Although a romantic subplot between herself and her older male boss is hinted at and eventually addressed toward the end, Scarla has a tragic past in that department, but her involvement with her now deceased husband is what got her into the mess of being an ex-kickboxer turned undercover cop in the first place. Except she’s also being experimented upon with a volatile drug, the same one that her husband took. Now, the scientists watching in the background are waiting for their universal soldier to emerge, and when you’ve got someone who already used to be a cage fighter and give them supernatural strength, you can imagine how volatile things turn out.
Horror fans, even for those of you who consider yourself to have a pretty strong stomach, there are some pretty graphic depictions of violence, and while they’re not among the most disgusting that I’ve seen/read, they’re still pretty darn nasty. The story is unique, the characterization well done, and every detail is so authentic that it lends more credence to the idea that this novel could easily be turned into an HBO series or a film (well, that an the author actually has a background in film). It’s authentic, the story will grab you and won’t let go, and even for reluctant readers or those who don’t usually dip into horror, if they like action and they like violence, they will love this story of a troubled young woman that turns out to be far deeper and more intriguing than the standard “girl with super powers goes nuts and kills a bunch of people” although some readers may be tempted to dismiss the novel as just that. Case in point: don’t listen to those readers.