The House of Daniel
by Harry Turtledove
Cover Artist: Getty Images
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Tor Books Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780765380005
Date: 19 April 2016 List Price $24.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK
What the world didn't know it needed was a novel about Baseball during the Great Depression with Zombies, Vampires, and Magic on the side. The US is struggling in the aftermath of the crash, work is hard to find, and even harder to find when places can hire zombies to work for next to nothing. In The House of Daniel a small time player takes to the road with a famous barnstorming baseball team to avoid trouble in his home town.
Jack Spivey is getting by in Enid, Oklahoma. He picks up work where he can and does a few tasks for Big Stu. He also plays for the local semipro baseball team to earn a few extra bucks. When traveling to a nearby town for a game, he is asked to rough up a family member of someone who owes Big Stu. When he can't do the job, He has to get out of town fast.
Opportunity arrives in the form of the famous barnstorming semipro baseball team the House of Daniel. They are a top team with a highly recognizable appearance. Jack needs to join them if he can prove he is good enough. An unlucky break gives Jack a chance to travel the Western part of the US.
In his travels he sees major cities throughout the country. He will play good teams and bad teams. Magic is real and can affect the game, but so can faith. The relationship between humans, magicians, and the undead come into play as different states have different rules and traditions. But baseball is baseball, players and parks matter.
This is a fun stand-alone novel that is based on a real team from the first half of the 20th Century. The House of David was a team that traveled and played baseball for half a Century. They had the same distinctive appearance and were also a good traveling team. I had never heard of the House of David, but once I read this novel I wanted to know more.
This is a bit of a departure for Turtledove in a couple of respects. For one thing it has only one perspective. For another it does not seem to be a set up for a longer series. I give props to that. I hope he puts out more novels of this type in the future.
This novel is sure to be a hit with baseball fans. Even the uninitiated should be able to enjoy this tale of exploration and redemption.
From: Mike singer:
Professional criticism of any art thing is a very personal voyage. If the end user has different enjoyment criteria Then the critic has not been able to hit the right buttons. However, I must say that the critics that write for your magazine invariably seem to have the excellent taste of agreeing with my conclusions about a book. Hence, I look forward each month to view your assessments.