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Review: Bleeding Stone – Brian Yapko

Bleeding Stone - Brian Yapko

Genre: Horror

Reviewer: Maryann

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About The Book

Mundo Lopez, a minor player in the criminal underworld of Los Angeles, has killed a man of unexpected importance to the Mayan gods of war and death. After his release from prison, Mundo journeys with his lover, Pedro, through the jungles of Guatemala to steal a fortune in sacred gold from the Pyramid of the Dead. It is there among the ruins of Tikal that the dark gods, in their quest for vengeance, force him to make a monumental and horrific choice…

The Review

Deep inside Tikal are the Mayan ruins. The Mayan God of war is Buluc Chabtan, and the blood thirsty god of death Ah Puch, while the attendants of the gods and ancestors are jaguars. There’s also a strange story about gold that has come from the ruins.

Edmundo “Mundo” Lopez pitches fantasy stories to film studio executives in Hollywood. He’s gotten a new contract with Destiny Studios, which wants to produce a film about treasure hunters that steal a sacred, cursed object. Mundo has no plans to complete the contract, but he does want to find the hidden treasure.

Mundo plans are to board the ship Dona Maria with his lover Pedro Luna, to make their way to El Cruce, Guatamala. They have an unusual relationship, but they care very much for each other.  Magdalena, Pedro’s sister, was Mundo’s occasional lover and they had a baby together, but Magdalena died of childbirth complications and the baby boy, with a weak heart, only lived a short time.

Two months later, Pedro is still very depressed. He’d really wanted to honor his sisters wishes and make a family with Mundo and the baby.  Mundo is worried about having Pedro, who is prone to seasickness, with him on the voyage. Mundo just wanted him to be happy and to pull out of his depression. He truly loves Pedro. 

Mundo isn’t a very good guy – he’s often called “heartless,” and he doesn’t try to hide it. He turned to crime at a young age, due to his upbringing by his mother Catrina. She made a series of bad choices, and didn’t even try to give Mundo a decent life.  She had many shiftless lovers, often married menm and none of them cared about him. So he did what he could to survive, and it led him to crime.  

Catrina told Mundo a tale from when she was a child living in El Cruce, Guatemala, forty years earlier. She and her younger brother Carlos had run away from home. They ran miles into the Guatemalan jungle and came upon Tikal and the great pyramid of the Mayan ruins, Templo De Los Muertos. They discovered a treasure there but didn’t took any of it, as they were afraid to offend the gods. She wanted to make up for being a bad mother, hoped Mundo would go to El Cruce and meet with Carlos. She had cancer, no longer feared the gods, and hoped finding the treasure would make his life better.

Mundo didn’t got into trouble with the law until he committed armed robbery. He served just six months at Folsom, because they could not pin the death of Jose Garza on him. He’d tried to rob the pawnshop owned by Garza, who happened to be one of his mother’s married lovers. Catrina and Garza knew each other in El Cruce, and he also had ties to Tikal. Catrina believed that, with Garza’s death, there would be great consequences.

Mundo is feeling good about the voyage to El Cruce. Finding the treasure would make life so much easier for both him and Pedro. When they arrive and meet Carlos, Mundo is surprised at how young his Uncle looks, and how strange he is, and as they journey closer to Tikal, things begin to fall apart. Not only is Uncle Carlos strange, but now there’s something wrong with Pedro. Mundo has no idea what terrors await them at Templo De Los Muertos.

Bleeding Stone is the first book I’ve read by Brian Yapko and I was immersed in this well told story right from the start. Mundo is an extremely captivating character, and the story is written as if Mundo is actually talking to you as a long-time friend, a very relaxed POV. The story of Mundo robbing the pawnshop is a black comedy, and I felt sorry for him. I liked Mundo’s character and wanted him and Pedro to have a better life.

Pedro is sweet and smart and has Mundo’s heart. Mundo never stopped loving him. The story has both romance and humor, but there’s nothing like the terror than unfolds as it reaches its climax. This dark tale certainly becomes twisted and there’s a lot I didn’t see that coming. Mundo has to make some difficult choices.

The author also piqued my curiosity abiut Mayan history, so I did some research into Tikal and the frightening mysteries of the Mayan ruins and the gods Ah Puch and Buluc Chabtan.  

I highly recommend “Bleeding Stone.” It has fascinating world building and a well-paced, terrifying story. Yapko captured my attention, and I was thoroughly intrigued by this new (to me) author and this tale.

The Reviewer

Hi, I’m Maryann, I started life in New York, moved to New Hampshire and in 1965 uprooted again to Sacramento, California. Once I retired I moved to West Palm Beach, Florida in 2011 and just moved back to Sacramento in March of 2018. My son, his wife and step-daughter flew out to Florida and we road tripped back so they got to see sights they have never seen. New Orleans and the Grand Canyon were the highlights. Now I am back on the west coast again to stay! From a young age Ialways liked to read.

I remember going to the library and reading the “Doctor Dolittle” books by Hugh Lofting. Much later on became a big fan of the classics, Edgar Alan Poe, Mary Shelley, Bram Stoker and as time went by Agatha Christie, Ray Bradbury and Stephen Kingand many other authors.

My first M/M shifter book I read was written by Jan Irving the “Uncommon Cowboys” series from 2012. She was the first author I ever contacted and sent an email to letting her know how much I liked this series. Sometime along the way I read “Zero to the Bone”by Jane Seville, I think just about everyone has read this book!

As it stands right now I’m really into mysteries, grit, gore and “triggers” don’t bother me. But if a blurb piques my interest I will read the book.

My kindle collection eclectic and over three thousand books and my Audible collection is slowly growing. I have both the kindle and audible apps on my ipod, ipads, and MAC. So there is never an excuse not to be listening or reading.

I joined Goodreads around 2012 and started posting reviews. One day a wonderful lady, Lisa Horan of The Novel Approach, sent me an email to see if I wanted to join her review group. Joining her site was such an eye opener. I got introduce to so many new authors that write for the LGBTQ genre. Needless to say, it was heart breaking when it ended.

But I found a really great site, QRI and it’s right here in Sacramento. Last year at QSAC I actually got to meet Scott Coatsworth, Amy Lane and Jeff Adams.

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