The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

Title: The Maleficent Seven.
Writer(s)Cameron Johnston.
Publisher: Angry Robot.
Format: Digital.
Release Date: August 10th 2021.
Pages: 400.
Genre(s): Fantasy.
My Overall Rating:

Rating: 4 out of 5.


How does one reconcile with someone after being betrayed? Can their common interests pave the way towards solidarity? Can they allow themselves to forgive one another, move forward, and attain their deepest desires through an unwarranted alliance? Maybe. Only if their most sinister intentions can be kept at bay. Unfortunately, this crew is filled with the most hateful and maleficent bunch who clearly won’t mind back-stabbing others to get what they want. However, their unison could also lead them to save the world and mend their reputation once and for all. In his latest stand-alone dark fantasy novel, author Cameron Johnston (Age of Tyranny) delivers a flamboyant and riveting adventure with an unlikely crew off to do the unthinkable.

What is The Maleficent Seven about? 40 years ago, Black Herran, a feared and terrifying demonologist captained a team of seven fearsome warriors: Maeven (a necromancer), Lorrimer Felle (a vampire lord), Tiarnach (a demigod), Amogg (an orcish warleader), Verena Awildan (a pirate queen), and Jerak Hyden (a twisted alchemist). Together, they went on to conquer countless continents within Essoran. However, on the day they were ready to proclaim complete dominion over the world, Black Herran jumped ship. Today, she looks to rally her former captains back together for another conquest to take place in the small town of Tarnbrooke in hopes to put an end to the growing strengths and victories of the Lucent Empire. Unfortunately for her, the task is far more complex than it ever was as the members, soured by their past experience, find themselves unable to trust a soul.

“Humans are strange beasts. Always using too many words meaning same thing.

— Cameron Johnston

Focused first on speeding through the world to find each member in their natural habitat, now accustomed to treachery, deception, and manipulation, the story then shifts its attention to the promised bloodshed. Despite its breakneck pace, inevitably cutting away at the journey and the time to bond along the way, writer Cameron Johnston nevertheless does a fantastic job in highlighting the most singular and exciting traits of his quirky band. Through snappy dialogues, witty comebacks, and a colourful prose full of baffling insults, he offers an entertaining journey where every little interaction highlights his characters’ most identifying traits and hints at their most sinful desires. Without sending these monsters on a quest to change themselves for the better, this adventure focuses on drawing out the best (or worse) of their being in an attempt to do something that might seem good on the surface but hides far more than they dare share.

With such a thrilling plot, delivered at an unquestionably fast pace, it had to suffer in terms of world-building. The upside is that writer Cameron Johnston delivers an incredibly diverse world that features classic villainous creatures. While he doesn’t delve deeper than necessary into their history, he allows their interactions to establish a dynamic and entertaining atmosphere that will fully satisfy readers as they follow the group’s formation and vicariously enjoy their bloody skirmishes. If there’s anything rewarding, it’s the fascinating execution of action sequences and the grim banter between the crew members. Although there isn’t much time offered to appreciate the setting, the fun essentially comes from the chaotic, rapid-fire, and unfiltered energy emitted from this crew.

The Maleficent Seven is an exciting, action-packed, and gruesome adventure following an unusual evil bunch in one last epic crusade.

Thank you to the author for sending me a digital copy for review!



22 thoughts on “The Maleficent Seven by Cameron Johnston

  1. Stories like this make me despair that authors will ever truly try to redeem their characters. Doing “a” good thing (no matter how big) doesn’t qualify as redemption if you’re the same exact person after doing that good thing.
    And then you have stories like this. Where all the reader has is a choice of evils.

    I am sad 😦

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thankfully we all have the will to decide what we want to read! 😛 I haven’t read many stories with such a focus on villains though. There are, however, so many traditional fantasy stories where the villains end up helping the good guys by the end and turning into antiheroes. Which I’m also very much accustomed to in superhero stories hahah

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Hmmm… I’m not sure if this is one I’ll read. But I’m glad to hear you enjoyed it. Sounds like quite a ride. Did you think there was any parallel or inspiration, other than title, from the stories this title seems to be inspired by (Seven Samurai and The Magnificient Seven)?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yep, it’s not the kind of story that many readers sought within the fantasy genre but it’s a nice break of those thick huge books, part of series, with at least 1000 pages per book hahaha I honestly just saw those 2 classics as a fundamental influence on the author’s book and its premise. I saw someone (an author) on Goodreads draw analogies to the Suicide Squad, which makes sense. The story’s structure is also similar to Kings of the Wyld, another “band getting back together to do cool things” but without the “we’re all evil” part. I could 100% recommend Kings of the Wyld to you if you haven’t already tried or wanted to try it.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cool, glad to hear the recommendation for Kings of the Wyld. It’s high up on my list to be read. Not sure yet if I’ll manage to get to it this year, though. And who knows, perhaps I’ll even give this one a try one day. Probably one that would very much depend on my mood. I’m reading one (well, listening) right now that’s been highly recommended by several whose tastes I generally share but it’s not working for me at the moment. It’s a great read, just not fitting my current mood, and it’s all about an evil one. 🙂

        Liked by 3 people

      2. I imagine you’re speaking of In the Garden of Spite. I added it to my TBR following those glowing reviews too. Sorry to hear it’s not working out too well for you right now. Would you be more of the type to DNF and get back to it another time or push forward and move on to other titles? 😀

        Liked by 2 people

      3. Yup, In the Garden of Spite. I’m slowly working my way through it. I’m enjoying it enough I will finish it, I just might take longer than I typically would. Normally I only listen to one audiobook at a time, and I typically listen at night before I sleep and sometimes when driving, and if I’m really into it I’ll sometimes listen during any free time. Well, I’ve no desire to listen to this on the drive to work as it can be a downer of a read and I don’t want to jinx my day that way. And I don’t want to listen before I sleep for similar reasons. So I’ll listen on some of the drives home and then put it aside for other things. I’ve started another audiobook for the other times I read. It’s certainly an interesting character study, and perhaps a thought experiment on how much a truely tragic and horrendous experience might warp and twist us and affect the rest of our life. I found I went from really feeling sympathy for a character because of what she went through to almost completely losing all sympathy because of what she becomes. But the brain can be broken in so many ways.

        Liked by 2 people

  3. Black Herran jumps ships and then comes crawling back to them? Ummm, no thank you. I mean, I hope they make her pay at least. The tale sounds intriguing and I don’t mind the non-perfect worldbuilding one bit. It’s all about the action for me!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Ah ha! That’s exactly what you’ll have to find out by reading the story. It’s pretty much calling upon the best (of those who are the evilest) to see if they’re willing to join forces for one big “good” deed for the world. As for “payback”, that is exactly what the second half of the story prepares you for. 😀 Glad to hear that world-building in not a necessity for you in fantasy stories if the rest is good! Thanks for reading. I appreciate it.

      Liked by 1 person

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