Review: Deadbolt’s Society’s The Ferryman (and Jason Brannon’s Dance with the Devil)

Review – Ferryman Mini Mystery and Dance With The Devil from Deadbolt Mystery Society

Website Link 

Price – ​​​​$11.99

Disclaimer: we purchased the game and book with our own money, this review is not sponsored. All thoughts are our own.

This week’s review is a little different from our traditional review because it’s a DOUBLE REVIEW!!!

The Deadbolt Mystery Society offers a free puzzle game “The Ferryman” when a customer purchases Jason Brannon’s novel Dance with the Devil.  Since this combines our love of both reading and puzzles, we couldn’t pass up the opportunity to indulge both our hobbies.


The Ferryman:

The Ferryman is a standalone mystery and puzzle game which will have players tracking down the murder being dubbed the Ferryman.  He’s already killed three times and if players don’t act fast, he may strike again.

While most of the components are physical, players will require an internet enabled device to access several digital pieces.

This is a mini-puzzle compared to Deadbolt Mystery Society’s other offerings.  The game should take about 30-60 minutes.  As a duo, we finished in a little over 30 minutes.  

Dance with the Devil by Jason Brannon:

Dance with the Devil is a mystery thriller that takes place in Valley Falls, the home of many of Deadbolt Mystery Society’s puzzle games.  Valley Falls is also the home of Solomon Sharpe, a private detective who is struggling through life but knows that one big case may be all it takes to turn things around.  Unfortunately for Solomon, he may be in over his head when someone called The Devil tasks him with catching a serial killer known as the Angelmaker.  As if that wasn’t enough, if Solomon fails at his task or doesn’t act fast enough, his daughter’s life may be in danger.


The Ferryman:

The Ferryman is best viewed as a mini puzzle game.  It has all the elements of a strong puzzle game, but due to its shorter playtime, the narrative and puzzle are both more limited.

The story begins by establishing the known details of The Ferryman killer and how players have become involved.  From there, more details will be established as players crack puzzles and then, players will be rewarded with a large chunk narrative during the game’s wrap up.  There is a lot of end game information, which we imagine would have been explored and revealed with more puzzles in a larger game.

The puzzles make the most of their limited space.  Each is well-designed and feels like they would be right at home as part of a larger puzzling adventure.  The only drawback is that while the puzzles are all quality and they tie together for the larger narrative, they feel a little more standalone and there are fewer puzzle chains to delve into.

The Ferryman is an excellent add-on to a novel (more books should come with puzzle games).  It’s perfect for a quick puzzling session.  It also works as a short introduction to Deadbolt Mystery Society’s style of puzzle crafting or simply puzzle games in general.  This may not be a game that needs to be added to any collection, it would be worth grabbing for a few dollars or for anyone who plans to buy a mystery/thriller novel anyways.    

Official C&C Rating for The Ferryman:

Narrative: 2.5/5

Puzzles: 2.75/5

Overall Fun: 3/5

Total Averaged Rating: 2.75/5

Dance with the Devil:

With his novel, Dance with the Devil, Jason Brannon does a good job of creating an intriguing premise and a solid main character that readers should find easy to get behind.  Solomon sharpe fits the classic role of tough investigator working in an even tougher city.  Sharpe is humanized through his desire to do whatever it takes for his daughter and by his clear struggles throughout the case.  Solomon often feels like while he has the knowledge and skills his challenge will take, making it to the end of his journey isn’t going to be easy.

Beyond the main character and set up for the premise, Dance with the Devil gets a bit more shaky.  The biggest flaw with Dance with the Devil is that Brannon wants to squeeze a lot into a relatively short novel, only 178 pages.  

While the normal of characters included in the novel feels normal, Brannon clearly wants each character, even ones with smaller parts to play, to be memorable through his use of interesting quirks and details.  However, they usually fly by or are easily forgotten outside of the main cast members.  It may have been better to pour more effort and time into the story’s more important characters.

Brannon also squeezes in a lot of details, information, and events in his novel.  A plethora of twists and turns are to be expected, but many aren’t given enough room to breathe before the story rushes to what needs to happen next.  Brannon clearly has some great ideas and plot points, but it may have been better to develop and strengthen them a bit more.  

Overall, Dance with the Devil doesn’t quite stand out compared to other novels in its genre, but it can be a quick and interesting read for those who do get their hands on it.  The novel seems like the setup and foundation of what could be an intriguing series, but may not do enough to justify a string of cases for Solomon Sharpe.  If Dance with the Devil ever does spawn a true sequel, it would be interesting to see what could be done with more time devoted to the story and less time spent on establishing Sharpe’s world and status quo.    

Rating for Dance with the Devil: 2.5/5 Stars

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