The Bane of Yoto

Joshua Viola, Mario Acevedo, Nicholas Karpuk, illustrated by Aaron Lovett and Branden Bendert

Publisher: Hex Publishers Pages: 478 Price: (paperback) $19.99 ISBN: 9798986219431 Reviewed: October, 2022 Author Website: Visit »

A decade after it was initially published, The Bane of Yoto is being reissued in a new edition that features stunning illustrations from Hex artistic stalwarts Aaron Lovett and Branden Bendert.

Embracing a tone reminiscent of Golden Age adventure pulp—woks by authors like Robert E. Howard, Edgar Rice Burroughs, etc.—this fantasy/science fiction fusion is like literary meth for readers who enjoy action-packed, pedal-to-the-metal genre fiction. The story revolves around Yoto, a young numah whose blue-furred race has been enslaved by the tyrannical olokun, ruthless overlords with armor-covered bodies and razor-sharp talons who force the numah to work in the mines of Neos. Vega, the olokun’s vicious leader, is desperately attempting to build a shield around Neos to protect himself and his people against the Arbitrators, a mysterious group of gods who allegedly want to annihilate the olokun.

After watching his parents get slaughtered by Vega, Yoto and his older brother grow up differently. Eon is masterminding an uprising against their captors, while Yoto simply wants to survive. But when Yoto gets stabbed in the heart with a mystical dagger and begins a bizarre transformation, he realizes he’s the spark that could ignite a revolution—and so much more.

There’s a narrative simplicity here that’s increasingly rare in contemporary fantasy and science fiction. The characters are clearly defined but not particularly deep; there’s no real backstory, and many plot points go unexplained—but although these may be flaws in other storylines, they’re an undeniable strength here as the novel’s pace is relentlessly straightforward, with audacious action and adventure exploding on every page.

The real power here, however, is the grindhouse vibe: over-the-top characters, splatterific gore, and unforgettably weird sequences and locales—like the insect that, once attached to a character’s face, inserts its feelers up the nostrils and deposits hallucinogenic ejaculate into the pleasure centers of the brain; and the living building with openings like labia.

This is pure pulpy pleasure—a cult classic.

Author's Current Residence
Denver, Colorado
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