Relics by Tim Lebbon

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Relics by Tim Lebbon

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Category: Fantasy
Rating: 2.5/5
Reviewer: Sam Tyler
Reviewed by Sam Tyler
Summary: Join perhaps the most annoying characters you have ever spent time with in what proves to be an interesting urban fantasy world.
Buy? No Borrow? Maybe
Pages: 384 Date: March 2017
Publisher: Titan Books
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 9781785650307

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Urban fantasy is not a new genre, but in recent years it has blossomed into something that is self-sustainable, free from the genres of science fiction or fantasy. These are books about the seedy underbelly of our own world, of cities filled with secret warlocks or clandestine covens of witches. For an urban fantasy book to work it must have an impressive world to explore, but you cannot forget the basics of story structure and character. For example, putting an irritating character into a slightly confusing world is not the best start …

Angela sits in an interview room waiting to be deported back to the United Kingdom. In her wake she left more than a few dead bodies and more than a few mysteries that the police can't get their heads around. It is bad enough that a house has burnt down leaving various corpses, but when the dead don't quite look human, what on earth are the police meant to investigate?

Relics is a lesson in a good idea that's poorly executed in places. On a positive note, the world building is very good. Set in a modern London this is a city that has a secret. Unbeknownst to most of us, there are a few magical creatures. Some unsavoury characters know of their existence and trade in a black market of artefacts including body parts. This is the world that Angela and her partner Vince are plunged into when Vince gets involved in an illegal transaction that could cost him his life.

All very promising; intrigue, action, thrills and even a Satyr. However, many of the other elements of the book do not match the main idea. Firstly, the pacing suffers as Lebbon tries to develop his characters to the point of irritation. Angela and Vince are not just a couple, but they are in love and not just love, but a forever love. The first sixty pages feel like an internal monologue of gushing thoughts.

This leads to a second issue; the characters are annoying, Angela in particular. She is an academic, so is prone to over analysis, which in itself slows the book down with her extraneous details, but that's not the worst part. As the book is told from within her mind we get the full force of her patronising thoughts. For example, she does not spend much time on social media, because she lives in the 'real world'. Thanks for being condescending, but then she spends hours musing on her studies (the real world?) She also states that although she has only visited America and Great Britain she is worldly wise because her parents are liberals and made her read a lot. Listen to yourself!

Of course the blame for Angela's inner workings being like nails on a blackboard cannot be placed at her feet, but that of the writer. Lebbon missteps several times in the book and creates someone you don't care about who spends all the time saying how much her love is better than yours.

Without the central characters Relics would have been a far better book, but also one with no direction! Therefore, we are caught in a Catch 22 – promising book with poor characters, or no book due to lack of characters. A small glimmer of hope arises at the end of the book as the events here may force Angela and Vince to be more interesting in the future. However, why a book is allowed to be part of a trilogy without producing a solid first book is a modern publishing issue. Perhaps we should return to the days of writing a contained story in one book and then being rewarded with a continuation, if the original deserves it.

Urban Fantasy can span a sea of ideas from magical Librarians Libriomancer by Jim C Hines to a world in which spoons are sacred Shades of Grey by Jasper Fforde.

Buy Relics by Tim Lebbon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Relics by Tim Lebbon at

Buy Relics by Tim Lebbon at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy Relics by Tim Lebbon at


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