Monday, 25 August 2014

Interlude 007

Published 2013

4 stars

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city - for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume --- human.

Not to be put off by anything -- especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess co-worker -- Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble -- with Zoe right in the middle

I have been listening to Mur Lafferty’s Podcast (‘I Should Be Writing’) for a couple of years now. In fact it was the first one I discovered about writing even before I made this year’s decision to ‘take writing more seriously’. And I’ve been taking note of her advice ever since.

So I’m a little ashamed to say that it has taken me so long to get round to reading any of her work.

TSGTNYC is a really good little book. Nowadays we are so saturated with vampires, werewolves and ghosts that I think an author really needs to make an effort to help their variations stand out. Mur does this and does it well. Sure, she’s not re-inventing the wheel here, but a couple of twists to the usual troupes comes across as refreshing to the reader.

Zoe is our main character and it’s through her introduction to the world of monsters (sorry, I meant coteries) that we learn about all the strange denizens that exist in New York City.

It starts well with the human character being the outsider for once and introduces supernatural characters and folklore at a steady pace without cramming it all in early or dropping info dumps galore. In fact, being that it’s about a monster travel guide, it’s a nice touch having excerpts of said guide book at the end of every chapter.

I do, however, have a little trouble with the ending. Without giving anything away I’ll just say that I think the scale of the finale was too big. Although the identity of the big bad is mentioned early on, it’s not as a villain and there doesn’t seem to be much else in the way of threat. The whole book is quite low key and personal until suddenly New York City is in danger. And it’s linked to the hero. Still, credit to Mur in that she doesn’t make Zoe some super powered Buffy-a –like. Zoe is a normal girl (!) struggling to survive the strange world she’s forced herself into. She gets tired in a fight, gets injured easily and knows she's weak compared to the characters around her. She’s sensible in knowing that she’s in way over her head.

Other than that it’s a good read and the start to an interesting series. On Mur’s website she lists the possibilities of where to go next (other than the obviously already written New Orleans). I’m praying for London. And not just because it’s my capital.  

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