Eli aka Lonely was a successful stick up kid, until he robbed the wrong, crooked undercover cop. Now years later after putting his life back together, Eli is confronted by his old nemisis, with an opportunity for a payday like he’s never seen. Will Eli fall back on his old ways, or will he settle old scores?
Find out in the Ballad of Eli!
ALSO REVIEWED AT: Goodreads
“I know that you’re always gonna be Lonely. It’s part of who you are and part of what I love about you. But I need you to know that I love you and I got your back and you will never be alone.”
The strife of days thought long gone have come back to haunt Elijah Catchings in Chase Bolling’s Urban Erotic Fiction/Thriller novella, The Ballad of Eli. This is the tale of man willing to pay any price to protect and provide for his family, even if it means falling back into the illicit underworld he once left behind. As the opportunity (or ambush) of a lifetime presents itself, Lonely emerges from Eli’s darkest depths, but this time Eli isn’t facing the challenges alone. For a relatively short story, Bolling dauntlessly addresses some very real and relevant perils that plague the urban communities, including corruption, political machinations, and gentrification – change starts with awareness. Readers are swept along a smooth and fast-paced adventure through Bridgeport, Connecticut on a mission to topple an infectious syndicate, and by the end I was left needing more.
At the core of this story lies Eli, a man content, but not completely at peace with his life. His past, ripe with illegal enterprise–one which he admittedly craves–resurfaces and threatens everything he and his wife Keisha have worked so hard to build. The entirety of The Ballad of Eli is about the interactions and dynamics between characters, and how each holds a specific importance in Eli’s life – whether through loyalty or shrewdly intending to use him as a means to an end. Throughout the novella, there are flashes into the past that define him, giving insight into his intellect and ambition, and allowing us to see deep beneath the surface. In addition, Keisha is a shining star in this tale, a grounding force for our main character that dazzles the pages she appears on. Her devotion to her husband is unshakable, which is beautifully reciprocated; a mutual respect that transcends trivialities. Bolling’s decisions made with regard to his character building are bold, but wisely executed.
She smiled, setting his soul on fire…
The narrative allows readers to peer through the eyes of Eli, its tone embodying what’s expected of this particular genre, thoroughly immersing you in urban Bridgeport. Events are clearly chronicled, seamlessly transitioning from one aspect to another, plotting and planning to execution. Bolling captures poignant emotion well, especially when it comes to blazing love and heartfelt respect. The doses of eroticism aren’t just thrown into the mix without cause, but are utilized to highlight the relationships between characters and the importance of a bond between two people in mind, body, and soul. My only honest issue with this short fiction is the inconsistency regarding perspective, sometimes jumping from third person to first person, which I always find to be a bit distracting.
The Ballad of Eli is a sexy and action-packed tale of reclaiming the power, all packed into a bite-sized morsel. Full disclosure, this is the first of the Street Lit genre that I’ve dipped my toes into, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. While a work of fiction, it’s a genuine peek into the socioeconomic issues that afflict our world, and the author pulls no punches. Brimming with scheming and the violence that accompanies it, this book is a perfect read for those looking for something raw and real. Whether you’re an Urban Fiction connoisseur or a newbie like me, I guarantee you’ll fall in love with this yarn Bolling has spun. It is a self-contained story, but I’d love to see more Eli in the future.
CW: Explicit sex, graphic violence, death
You can say Chase is a father, revolutionary, and author in that order. Born and raised in Bridgeport, CT and he grew up in a proud Afro-indigenous family with strong roots to the military, activism, and public service. Surrounded by strong BIPOC women and his grandmother, mother and aunt were all heavily involved in local politics. While Chase spent his youth a delightful contradiction pretty much being Huey and Riley of the Boondocks at the same time. His mom did her best, and made sure he was cultured, educated and raised with a W.E.B Dubois-esque talented tenth, sense of responsibility. She kept him around good mentors, and even made him take etiquette classes…but there was and likely still is a hoodlum streak a mile wide. While on one side Chase was always well read, well spoken, with a firm belief in the edification of his community, a youth involved with street gangs and other illegal activities and he found himself in trouble…often. He played football, lacrosse and got into historical martial arts which Chase still practices to this day. He spent years in the indie hip-hop scene as The Legendary Thug Poet, until a near fatal car accident left me with a traumatic brain injury. Now he mainly sticks to activism and being an author, and now proudly serves as director of SF/For the Culture the fantasy, sci-fi, and speculative fiction side of W. Clark Publishing!