You Are Hated: A Review of The Blade Between

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Ronan Szepessy promised himself he’d never return to Hudson. The sleepy upstate town was no place for a restless gay photographer. But his father is ill and New York City’s distractions have become too much for him. He hopes that a quick visit will help him recharge. 

Ronan reconnects with two friends from high school: Dom, his first love, and Dom’s wife, Attalah. The three former misfits mourn what their town has become—overrun by gentrifiers and corporate interests. With friends and neighbors getting evicted en masse and a mayoral election coming up, Ronan and Attalah craft a plan to rattle the newcomers and expose their true motives. But in doing so, they unleash something far more mysterious and uncontainable. 

Hudson has a rich, proud history and, it turns out, the real estate developers aren’t the only forces threatening its well-being: the spirits undergirding this once-thriving industrial town are enraged. Ronan’s hijinks have overlapped with a bubbling up of hate and violence among friends and neighbors, and everything is spiraling out of control. Ronan must summon the very best of himself to shed his own demons and save the city he once loathed.

This hit me at a time I truly needed it. I live in a city that’s rapidly gentrifying, and with the pandemic numbers constantly going up, hoo buddy. Have I also felt like grabbing a harpoon.

This book is dark. Like, exceptionally so. I want Ronan to make better choices, but he doesn’t. And I still love him in spite of that. He’s so deeply flawed, and is aware of his flaws.

It’s like reading a horrible prank war story, but with some eldritch nightmare fuel mixed in. I just wish they would call Dom what he is: “bisexual”! Whyyyyy can’t we have an explicitly bi main character?! He’s the soft sweet Black man who feels everything far too deeply.

I adored Attalah. She had a heart of gold, and still managed to be corrupted, proving that even the best are the worst.

If you’re also looking for a rather dark book with rather fucked up characters, I’d highly recommend this one. I give The Blade Between 3.5 out of 5 whale masks. Thank you to NetGalley and Ecco for providing a copy in exchange for review.

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