Return of the Breakneck Boys — Geary Gravel
The Fading Worlds, book 2


1991’s Return Of The Breakneck Boys is the second (and most recent) instalment in Geary Gravel’s Fading Worlds series.

Former fix-it man Howard Bell went looking for a washroom and found a pathway to another world. It’s a dangerous world, but he has survived, even thriven. He has attracted followers, warriors of many species. Together, they form a band known as the Breakneck Boys.

The Breakneck Boys are not just warriors. They are rebels against their former masters, the mysterious Keyholders.

Howard is like a keyholder in that he holds, and can use, one of the keys that grant access to all the realms of the Fading Worlds. Why the artifact works for him is unclear — legend says that non-Keyholders who tried to use keys died — but the fact that it does means that Howard can convey his band from world to world in search of potential recruits.

Unaccustomed to resistance, it takes the Keyholders a while to notice the Breakneck Boys’ efforts. When the Keyholders do respond, it is violently. Howard and the majority of the Breakneck Boys survive. They had taken the precaution of removing the microscopic translation bugs provided by the Keyholders. Bugs that be triggered to kill.

Accompanied by Alaiya, his female ally, Howard ventures back to his own world. Time has run more quickly on Earth than it has in the Fading Worlds, but no one seems to have noticed Howard’s disappearance. He contacts old friends and ties up loose ends. Perhaps more importantly, he investigates the mysteries that are the keys and his unexpected ability to use them.

This Earthly interlude is also an opportunity for his enemies, who have a better chance of killing him when he is not surrounded by a small army.


This book doesn’t tell us all that much about the Keyholders, but we do begin to suspect that they are eldritch abominations of a Lovecraftian sort. Either that or they’ve domesticated some eldritch abominations and are using them as yet more playing pieces on their worlds-spanning playing board.

Howard spent the first book in this series reacting to changes and assaults thrust upon him. In this book he has plans of his own, plans to resist the mysterious Keyholders and their pawns. I found this a welcome change of pace from the ambling narrative of the first book.

Still, this is very much a middle book. Book one outlined the setting. This book sets up some plot arcs. Why is it that Howard can function as a Keyholder without being one? What will happen to Ryan, a character who is HIV positive? We won’t know unless Geary finishes his series. So far, there has been no third book.

Perhaps the reissue, in e, of these old books suggests that the author might at long last finish the trilogy. I was sufficiently intrigued by the two books I have read that I wouldn’t mind reading the third.

Return Of The Breakneck Boys is available here (Amazon). I could not find it at Chapters-Indigo.


  • Danny Sichel

    I e-mailed Gravel earlier this year, he tells me:

    "I'll hopefully have the third Nonesuch book finished sometime this year. I spent a lot of last year converting books 1 and 2 to e-books and trade paperbacks, and then putting them up on Amazon."

    0 votes
    • Robert Carnegie

      Worth encouraging, in a sincere and quite affordable way. Is there a risk of being embarrassed to be watched reading it in public? Notoriously, Kindle owners, who I just joined thanks to a generous birthday present from my sister, can get away with reading pornography on an anonymous grey tile. (...Um. I did thank you, didn't I?) But someone may read over your shoulder on the bus. Well, I do. Anyway, I made an economical and discreet Kindle case from the Blu-Ray box of "Fifty Shades of Grey" - true, but I don't recommend the movie, which I haven't watched, or the method, in which I cut myself painfully on one of several bits of plastic that I had to detach from the box which, after all, is only designed to hold a disc. Which was remaindered to a price of one British pound, so I bought it specifically for this experiment. It did work, and I also removed the paper sleeve that advertises the original contents... does anyone want those? (British version obviously, probably only works here.)

      Perhaps Mr. Gravel will feel that me encouraging him would not be enough to make up for him encouraging me.

      0 votes

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