The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart
Its 14th century Medieval Europe and the most despicable human beings to have ever graced the pages of historical fiction are given life and a certain morbid sense of humor by debut author Jesse Bullington. Manfried and Hegel Grossbart are far and away the most evil-incarnate and foul-mouthed creatures to have ever spilled from a pen. Base, sacrilegious, and merciless these men are destined to go down in history as more loathsome than any modern day serial killer, tougher than Vlad the Impaler or a Tarantino character, and in possession of more cons than a flat-broke hustler just before the weekend. And if that alone isn't enough incentive to immediately go out and buy this book then how about this? The story overflows with well-written scenes of abject brutality, acts of unimaginable inhumanity, ill-reasoned religious doggerel, heavy-handed gratuitous violence, demonic possession, blood and guts, gore and grey matter, vengeance, retribution, indifference to the suffering of others, and a smattering of the European countryside which would, under normal circumstances, keep one interested in the exploits of the twin Grossbart's throughout an entire novel. But get this… everything I just mentioned occurs in the first few chapters!!
The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is a quick and enjoyable read, full of wonderfully creative exposition, humorous banter, and dialogue loaded with swearing and cursing, both profane and blasphemous. But it also has a feel for the medieval way of life, how people lived and spoke and worshipped and is unlike any other historical fiction I've ever read. The Grossbart's tale will keep you turning pages and will make you miss a lot of sleep. Not only from reading late into the night to find out where the brothers quest next (and who or what they kill) but frightened by the shadows that the story conjures too.
Plague survivors, pocket philosophers, demon killers, grave robbers, mad monks, demons, witches, and more join the Brothers Grossbart on their quest to “Gyptland” and the fabled graves of kings rumored to be held by their grandfather. But forewarned is forearmed, keep an eye on your purse and a hand on your dagger. Now that I've told you this much here's the kicker... As savage and inhumane as the Grossbart’s are what pursues them is much, much worse. And in the end while we are not told of the Grossbart’s demise we are left with the feeling that they get what’s coming to them. Or so we would like to think.
Truly inspired The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart is just that, a sad and cautionary story of evil, vengeance, cruelty, and gore and, in my opinion, definitely worth every minute of your time. Mr. Bullington? I’d stand in line for more. (And yes, that’s a hint.)
More about this unique writer can be found at his website:
An interview with Manfried and Hegel Grossbart (and Jesse Bullington):
4 1/2 stars out of 5
Also, the cover art, a facsimile of a medieval woodcut by Hungarian artist Orosz István, is brilliant.
István’s website is here: