Monday, 17 September 2007

Unshapely Things by Mark del Franco

Set in an alternative history timeline following the convergence of human and Fey worlds, Unshapely Things follows the magically crippled druid Connor Grey as he investigates a series of murders. The victims were all fairy prostitutes and the Guild - kind of like the fey police - has more important things to do, so the investigation is handed over to human law enforcement and Connor is called in to help.

This is the Kelley Armstrong bookclub book for September, and if I'm honest I probably wouldn't have picked it up otherwise. Which is the great thing about being in a bookclub, you get to try out authors you'd otherwise miss. (Okay sometimes it's the not so great thing about being in a bookclub, but that doesn't apply this time).

For me - it had a very slow start and I admit up 'til about page 180, I was thinking of it being okay, a nice way to fill the time. Then on page 174 I got hooked - admittedly longer than I would usually give a book to hook me, but hook me it did.

"I need to see your pass," said the receptionist.

Meryl turned slowly. "On average, I pass you four times a day. I think you're a twit. You think I'm a bitch. Ring a bell?"

I'd just like to say on the record that Meryl is my favourite character. And twice MDF made me think she wasn't going to make it to the end of the book!

Maybe I've got too used to reading urban fantasy which starts out with a (figurative) explosion and then proceeds with the speed of a Hollywood car chase, with no let up til the end. This has a much slower pace, with the story slowly unfolding before the reader as the case comes together for Connor. That doesn't mean it proceeds all the way through at this pace. Towards the end the clues add up to one giant mess for Connor and anyone else who wants to live through midsummer - and in the last twenty or thirty pages all hell breaks loose.

Even though it's written in first person I didn't really connect with Connor til much later in the book. In the earlier parts it's the other characters that kept me reading. First Joe (the flit) - who has all the best lines (until Meryl comes along later). The scene between him, Tansy and Connor was my first clue that there were parts of this book I was going to love. Through the other characters - Joe, Briallen, Meryl, Murdock, Keeva and Gillen - we experience different aspects of Connor's personality. And I think it's only after we've met these other characters that we begin to know Connor.

I did like how Connor is now on the side of the people he used to treat as if they were invisible. And it's a good lesson on being nice to the people on your way up, 'cause they're the same people you'll be meeting on your way down.

There were a couple of things I got slightly confused over. I wasn't 100% sure on how the convergence worked - if there were still some fey trapped in Faerie, or if they'd all been brought through to this side when the worlds merged.

I would probably have given this a B, but MDF uses Yeats The Second Coming very subtly which I liked. The title of the book itself is taken from a Yeats quote. And then on page 25 Shay quotes The Second Coming. Which at the end of the book you realize is virtually a smack in the face with a brick over what was about to happen - if you're familiar with the poem. Hopefully there will be another book in this series and yep I will be getting it.

To sum up it's an urban fantasy with a strong PI twist that should appeal to fans of Jim Butcher (Harry Dresden series), Kat Richardson (Greywalker and Poltergeist) and Charlaine Harris (Grave series). Well worth checking out, especially if you need a break from the more frenetic pace of other urban fantasy that's out at the moment


Anonymous said...

I think I've become a junkie. I love the fast pace. I get a rush reading quickly and thinking on the fly. I don't read slow books often anymore. It sounds like a good book, I just don't think I'm at that pace yet.

Naomi said...

I'm undecided about this book. I've picked it up and put it down several times. I have the same issue with Elaine Cunningham's book. I'm slightly intrigued but not yet fully tempted.

Plus I bought ten books last week and I really feel I should get through those before committing to yet another on-going series.

LesleyW said...

Scooper - When you're ready for a change of pace it's one that I'd recommend. :)

Naomi - Before I realized this was September's bookclub book I'd read the backcover blurb but not really been sucked in by it. This is why I keep on reading the bookclub books because it takes you out of your comfort zone. LOL - sometimes you end up wondering where the hell you are. But the majority of books I've read from the bookclub I've enjoyed. And a couple of them have given me new authors to follow.