Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Guest Post with Marshall Ryan Maresca - The Holver Alley Crew

Photo Credit: © Kimberley Mead

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. For more information, visit Marshall’s website at www.mrmaresca.com.


Series: Streets of Maradaine (Book 1)
Publisher: DAW (March 7, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0756412609
ISBN-13: 978-0756412609


“Maresca’s debut is smart, fast, and engaging fantasy crime in the mold of Brent Weeks and Harry Harrison. Just perfect.” —Kat Richardson, National Bestselling Author of Revenant

“Veranix is Batman, if Batman were a teenager and magically talented…. Action, adventure, and magic in a school setting will appeal to those who love Harry Potter and Patrick Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind.” ―Library Journal

“A well-conceived and well-written melange of popular fantasy sub-genres: there’s a university with a magic department, there is some vigilante derring-do and thievery…. If you’re looking for an action-and-adventure-filled new fantasy series, then The Thorn of Dentonhill will suit very well.” —Civilian Reader

“The Thorn of Dentonhill is a light-hearted, fun read, and Maresca has introduced a hero with plenty of room to grow, a couple of villains who will provide plenty of conflict in upcoming books. And, most importantly, he’s created a character that I care enough about to continue reading.” —Relentless Reading

“Take the caped avenger of Batman, the teenage-superhero angst of Spiderman, the street-gang bravado of West Side Story, and toss in the magic of Harry Potter, and what have you got? Marshall Ryan Maresca’s The Thorn of Dentonhill.” —Kings River Life Magazine

This was kind of a surprise to me, because I never would have thought I wrote steampunk. And I said as such.

However, will acknowledge that what I write is fantasy which has been influenced by steampunk, in that I’m bringing in technology beyond what is typically found in “traditional” fantasy, but not quite bringing it to steampunk levels.

“Gearpunk” or “Clockpunk”, if you will.

A society that will be a secondary-world steampunk civilization in about fifty years.

Part of doing that involves bringing in technology that is, shall we say, plausibly impossible. It’s fantasy, so the writer is given some leeway, but as long as you devise a device that seems like it could be made, then fact that it doesn’t really exist (or would work if it did) doesn’t matter as much.

For the Maradaine (Thorn) and the Maradaine Constabulary books, this was mostly background worldbuilding. There were hints of it with, say Jiarna’s magic-tracking equipment in The Alchemy of Chaos or the multiple lenses on Leppin’s skullcap in A Murder of Mages, but for the most part, it didn’t draw attention to itself.

But in The Holver Alley Crew, it gets brought to the forefront. Verci Rynax is a gadget builder. In addition to making, say, specialty crossbows for the team’s sharpshooter, or helping design a new kind of getaway carriage, he makes all sorts of gadgets to help with the heists and other gigs throughout the story.

And here the trick was making the gadgets feel plausible and functional, without making them essentially arcane magic. What can he do with gears and pulleys and clamps and clockwork?

More to the point: what was possible in this world with that?

There’s a sequence in the second chapter where Asti and Verci get caught in a trap, and I had to put a lot of thought into the plausibility of the trap, the mechanics of it, because I not only needed Verci to disarm it, but I had to understand how he was going to disarm it.

With only a belt buckle.

Now, I acknowledge that some of the Gearpunk technology is pretty much just as fantastic as the magic. But isn’t that half the fun?

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.

“Then you carry him!”

“I’ll be helping you, love,” Verci said. He threw a few more things into the pack. Smoke was filling the room. “No time to argue.”

Asti went out the window. There was a slight ledge, only a few inches, just enough for him to stand on. Above him there was only smoke and darkness; he knew both moons were roughly half full, but he couldn’t see them. The street below was chaotic, people shouting and pointing, running around in their nightclothes while the fire crackled all around. Directly below him was the canvas awning of Green- field’s locksmith shop, stretched wide and tight.

“Awning, slide, street?” Asti called to Verci. “Right,” Verci said. “Move.”

“Hold on, little man,” Asti said, rubbing the head of the baby. For his part, he was quiet, his big blue eyes staring up at Asti.

Asti sat down on the ledge, his feet a short drop from the top of the awning. Keeping one hand on the ledge, he dropped off, using his arm to keep his full weight from hit- ting the awning. Once his body was on the canvas, he let go, sliding down over the lip of it. A second later his boots hit the dirt. He stumbled forward, almost needing to fall into a roll, but he clutched at the baby and lurched backward, keeping his balance. Several people on the street cried and cheered.

Up on the ledge Raych cried, “I’m going to break my neck if I do that.”

“No, you won’t,” Verci said.

Asti looked back at the building. The whole place was on fire, smoke pouring out the windows. Verci lowered his wife onto the awning. Her eyes were locked on Asti, focused on the bundle strapped to his chest. Asti looked at the baby again, who was gurgling and smiling.

“He’s fine, Raych. Come on.” Asti held out a hand, though he knew it was a meaningless gesture. Verci stretched out, easing Raych down the awning until she was as far as he could get her without stepping on the awning himself.

“Ready?” Verci called.

You can purchase The Holver Alley Crew at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you MARSHALL RYAN MARESCA for making this giveaway possible.
Winner will receive a Copy of The Holver Alley Crew by Marshall Ryan Maresca.


  1. If I could be any character in a novel? Hmm. How about Mr. Sponge of "Mr. Sponge's Sporting Tour"?

  2. I have read so many books with so many wonderful characters ! I would be Miss Pollock in A Palm For Miss Pollock by Agatha Christie !

  3. Hermione Granger from the Harry Potter books. She is fierce, strong, loyal, intelligent & she has magic.