Sledge vs. the Labyrinth - Book Review

Series: Sledge vs (Book #1)

Genre: Thriller, Action, Noir

Pages: 329 pages (paperback edition)

Published: October 31, 2023 by SISU Press

Review Date: 01/18/2024

Tags: #nickhorvath #thriller #action

Squid Games meets John Wick, Sledge vs The Labyrinth delivers a crushing blow to your action thriller needs. 

I also want to thank Nick Horvath for sending me an e-copy of this book to review!


I was first introduced into Nick Horvath’s work through another BookTuber channel being Matt from Beard of Darkness Book Reviews. I saw that Matt was talking about Horvath’s book, Sledge vs. The Labyrinth, in an extremely positive light on multiple occasions. Then I saw that Matt was interviewing Horvath in one of his famous author live streams. This is when I saw Horvath’s headshot that instantly reminded me of a Viking where a bear skin was hanging over his head. Naturally, I was intrigued. 

Then, literally, one day later, Horvath reached out to me asking if I would be interested in checking out his book even though it wasn’t necessarily fantasy or sci-fi. The stars must have aligned as Horvath reached out to me one day after my interest piqued, I was more than happy to say “Yes, I am very interested!” 

Besides knowing that the Beard of Darkness highly recommended the book and seeing the cover, I had no idea what this story was about. With a title that has the word “sledge” in it, I knew somehow a hammer would be involved and that is completely fine with me. 

The cover actually reminded me a scene in one of my favorite movies, Drive. There is a particular scene where Ryan Gosling’s character is walking down a hallway with brutal intentions while holding a hammer. So yeah, if you ever see Ryan Gosling walking towards you with a hammer, umm…RUN!

With that scene in mind, I was ready to dive into Nick Horvath’s debut novel.


With a title like “Sledge vs The Labyrinth”, you might already assume there is going to be some brutal themes found within this book. I know I for sure did and when I found out that this book was also released on October 31st, Halloween, this only added to the appeal of the book. 

Horvath has a very interesting story in terms of his professional career before publishing this book. Horvath being 6-foot-10…you might think, “Wow that’s tall, would make a great basketball player.” Well in this case, you would be right because Horvath as a professional basketball player for 12 years. 

Basketball player turned action thriller author is just a very awesome career path that you typically would not think to see. After reading Horvath’s book, I can confirm, this was the right move for Horvath and I am excited to see what else he pushes out for our brain to consume.

One blurb that I saw everywhere when first introduced into this book was “THE ULTIMATE ANTI-HERO” given by Horror Reads. This blurb is very accurate as our main character is not what you would naturally think of when picturing a “hero” in your mind. Sorry kids, this is not a Superman or paragon hero tale where we’ll be saving babies from falling buildings. Instead, we get hammers smashed into peoples faces. This is completely fine with me and I am all for it. 

Did I have a good time taking a slight step outside my typical fantasy & sci-fi genre? Well, you can see how it went below.


“When his former lover, Kiira, finds herself the target of a mysterious dark web assassin network, modern-day gladiator, Einarr “Sledge” Laukkanen, embarks on a blood-spattered mission to uncover who lurks at its heart. But as he bludgeons his way down to its lowest depths, one thing becomes terrifyingly clear:


I first wanted to say that this story was an action packed ride filled with layers of mysteries. We are quickly thrown into this unfolding mystery within the first couple paragraphs. 

The first questions that came to my mind when reading the first few pages were “who is this Sledge guy? What is his past? Why does he like sledge hammers? Is this Liam Neeson?” 

I bring Liam Neeson up because of his very popular role in the movie “Taken” where we says his iconic lines of “I don’t know who you are, I don’t know what you want…I will find you and I will kill you.” Well, our main character Sledge is put in a very similar situation early on in this story but with a dark web twist. Also, Sledge at some point around the halfway mark in the story literally says these famous lines.

The Labyrinth is a twisted descending series of brutal actions paired with large sums of money. Here, we are presented with the over arching mystery of this book, who set up the Labyrinth? Also, why is our main character, Sledge, wrapped up in this mess? Well, throughout your read of this book, you will get these answers. I also learned more about the dark web than I have ever have before while reading this book, so…Nick…sounds like you might have been doing a little bit research in there, right? 😆

One area where this book shines is in it’s characters. Horvath does an excellent job presenting distinct characters that feel realistic. There is a human touch to these characters that allowed me to better connect with each one, especially our main character Sledge.

Sledge was a great developing character for me as we are really not presented with much information to go off of in the beginning but we slowly learn more and more about this big brute of a guy. Not only is Sledge a hugely built towering dude, he’s also hilarious. There were so many scenes where Sledge delivered one liners that successfully descended me into laughing out loud. 

So, Sledge is a huge dude that is also funny but…it doesn’t stop there. There is a very violent side to this character that stems from his past that we come to slowly learn more and more about. While we are learning about his past, he is smashing people in the face with a hammer throwing people out a window, and instilling fear in anyone he comes in contact with.

The action in this story was another highlight for me as there was a LOT of it. At times, it felt like I was playing a video game where Sledge was slowing navigating mission after mission in the hopes to eventually get to the final boss. I am also 90% sure there were Dark Souls references in terms of getting points (souls) for kills or performing some action within “The Labyrinth”. 

I also mentioned John Wick in the blurb of this review for a reason. Just like John Wick, Sledge gets back up, time and time again and beats the crap out of people…in style! I also mentioned John Wick for another reason being the underground assassin network presented in this universe which I constantly thought back towards while reading this book. I can also see John and Sledge getting along for some reason.

In terms of Horvath’s writing style, I would not say there is a lot of fluff or flowerily descriptions that flow like poetry. I would actually say it’s very to the point and doesn’t beat around the bush to get the story across. If you are wanting a story that immerses you in an expansive world filled with tons of imagery, this is not that book. Instead, you are in the action, seeing the punches fly, hearing bones crack, and seeing that infamous hammer descend. 

Horvath’s writing style paired with this fast paced plot lead to an incredibly fun read for me that I would love to revisit in the future. My only problem with this book was actually the unveiling of the mastermind of The Labyrinth. What I wanted was something that was more deep rooted, more mysterious, more backstory, and ultimately something that meant more than what the end answers gave us.

I am happy that we got to figure out the puzzle of The Labyrinth (at least the version Sledge is mixed up in) but it felt like the ending of a Scooby Doo episode where they pull the mask off the villain at the end and that’s it. With how elaborate and mysterious this entity was, I just wanted more out of it. BUT…there might actually be more with how the very last sentence in this book left off. So…still a mystery which I am a huge fan of.

I rate Sledge vs The Labyrinth 4 out of 5 stars and recommend it to any action thriller fan. It’s an extremely fast paced action story that has more layers of mystery than an onion but eventually you do get much needed answers.

Congratulations on your successful descent into you next depth.

“I’m going to throw you out the window now.”

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