The Tombs by M. Todd Gallowglas – short fiction review

"Dead Weight - The Tombs" by M. Todd Gallowglas.
“Dead Weight – The Tombs” by M. Todd Gallowglas.
The Tombs (or Dead Weight: The Tombs: A Tale of the Fairie War) is a novella by M. Todd Gallowglas. It’s set sometime in the future after a war between the world of the Fairie and the United States. The war is at a standstill, with humans and fairie living in an uneasy ceasefire. Boy Scout, the main character, has drugged and drunk himself into oblivion, trying to forget the horrors of the war—and more. After a group of Red Caps try to take him back to Oberon, he decides to choose his side instead of running away.

This novella only briefly introduces its world. What details Gallowglas shares, however, are interesting and steeped in the legendary creatures and tales from Ireland. For anyone interested in an interesting take on Irish folklore and legends, The Tombs intricately weaves a tale worth telling.

Boy Scout (yes, everyone does call him by that name, and the story explains why) and his fiery companion, Cendrine, have to deal with wizards, witches, crime bosses, thugs, and even redcaps as they work to find out why Oberon wants to find Boy Scout, and why many others want him dead. Gallowglas does a wonderful job painting just enough of the world to make things interesting, while also promising much more in future installments of this series.

Near the beginning of The Tombs, Boy Scout is shown as a heroin addict and alcoholic who just wants to forget everything, or at least be so drugged up he doesn’t care. Some of these details shine a harsh light on his reality. The story is liberally peppered with expletives, as well. The story is quite interesting, but the amount of such language may turn off some readers.

There is a fair amount of somewhat-graphic violence, along with a frank discussion of underage sex trafficking. The latter doesn’t go into much detail, but it may be disturbing to some readers.

Because he is telling the story as a set of novellas in serial form, the story in The Tombs is not as complete as it could be. I would have liked a little more character building with Boy Scout and Cendrine, and perhaps a bit more background information on the world. This novella feels more like the first few chapters of a novel than a standalone story. Since it was released as a separate story, this is a weakness.

However, Gallowglas is a professional bardic storyteller, and his professional shows are worth seeing. He really knows how to weave words into a story that captivates his audience, and he does this well in this book. It would be interesting to listen to an audio version of the story with him telling it. I could imagine him telling the story while I read it.

I found this novella to be interesting, and I plan to read more in the series. The Tombs is not for the easily offended, but if you can get past those things mentioned above, the story will draw you in and highly entertain you. It was a fun read.

Release Date: April 14, 2014 (USA)
ISBNs: 1499228554 (9781499228557)
Publisher: self
Language: English

MySF Rating: Three point five stars
Family Friendliness: 60%


Alcohol/Drugs: 2 (illegal drugs, social drinking, smoking)
Language: 5 (frequent very strong language, deity)
Sexuality: 2 (description of underage prostitution and related)
Violence: 3 (frequent brutal violence, fantasy battles, death)

Tell us what you think!