The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) by Mur Lafferty
|The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) by Mur Lafferty|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: A fun urban fantasy that includes a bit of the red stuff from an RPG writer who knows how to communicate set-piece action and nail-chomping suspense in a rather good way.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 368||Date: May 2013|
|External links: Author's website|
Zoe is an unemployed book editor who had to leave her last job, and indeed her last city, in rather a hurry. Zoe's personal exodus brings her to New York and the possibility of a job that sounds perfect: editing a travel guide to NYC itself. However, its projected readership isn't one for which Zoe has written before. The thing is that New York City is full of monsters or coterie to be polite. Vampires, werewolves, demons, sprites, zombies… the list goes on as all alternative life is there, both in and out of the office. So the first question is if she survives her colleagues, will she survive her readership? The second question being, of course, who or what is Granny Good Mae?
American author and RPG writer Mur Lafferty first introduced the concept of The Shambling Guide when she submitted elements of it as a short story for a charity book in aid of those recovering from Hurricane Katrina. The story was then done and dusted but kept niggling at her, the result being this first in an urban fantasy series featuring Zoe, the human small fish in a large pond of differently described life forms. For those who like pigeon holes, Ms Lafferty would appeal to fans of Ben Aaronovitch, Kate Griffin and Cherie Priest but she has a style that's pure Mur, a wonderful thing to behold.
The book begins deceptively lightly but this is no fluff fantasy tale. As its beguiling charm begins to work it becomes deeper, slightly darker and then hurtles us into crescendos of suspense and glimpses of blood. It may unnerve the mildly squeamish but doesn't lose an ounce of humour or any of that charm in the process.
Zoe is our representative throughout the adventure; someone who is as stunned as we would be and as brave as we hope we may be. She's lively, resourceful and on a steep learning curve, which reminds me: the curve includes a moment of relevant but graphic specialist intimacy that you may have a difficult time explaining to the young if they borrow your copy of the novel.
The supporting cast are great and those who are around often/long enough are imbued with great personalities. Even the zombies are filled out nicely and if anyone is ever going to be short-changed in the character department it will be a zombie. Personally I loved the sophisticated, dry humoured vampire, Phil and the wickedly naughty incubus, John. Granny Good Mae is a great puzzle that keeps us guessing for a while before her allegiances are revealed, along with the mysterious voice in her head. I would also very much like more of Max the special (and attitude-ridden) taxi driver.
The background is so well constructed I could easily believe that the author has coterie friends. The different ways that each species feeds, survives, even thinks provides a lushly textured underworld.
If you want a bit of depth, this may be a series that becomes synonymous with the era in which it's written. Zoe is a bridge between coterie and humanity; two factions that don't understand each other's lifestyle or culture, believing and acting on ill-founded myth and rumour. Need I go on?
What I feared from the book blurb may have been a supernatural Sex in the City/gender-specific series turned out to be the first of a gender neutral something-completely-different which is just as well because I for one am well and truly hooked.
If you loved this then I'm betting you'll also love Stray Souls by Kate Griffin.
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) by Mur Lafferty at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides) by Mur Lafferty at Amazon.com.
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