i’m pretty unseasoned when it comes to urban fantasy—i’ve dipped a toe here and there, but it’s not a genre that i’m too familiar with. to be honest, i’m not clear on what distinguishes urban fantasy from paranormal romance—such a large chunk of the UF market looks to me like romance novels backdropped with cryptids, and romance novels hold little appeal for me. there have been a few UF books i’ve loved: Borderline, rachel vincent’s menagerie trilogy, and i still plan to (someday) try seanan maguire’s UF series because i love all her other stuff so much. all of this blahblah is meant to emphasize that i’m no authority on the genre, and i’m sort of reviewing this one in a vacuum here, so i’ll leave it to genre-folks to weigh in on how it stacks up against others of its kind. however, i will note that there’s no romance-plot in this one, which means more time can be spent on the creatures and blood smears, which i appreciate way more than lingering gazes and sweaty abs. in books.
this is a series opener, so a lot of its focus is directed at introducing the reader to the world. there’s definitely YA-reader crossover appeal here: set in a dystopic near-future edinburgh, it features young dreadlocked n’ steel-toe-booted zimbabwean/scottish gothpunk ropa—a ghostalker-for-hire who uses her ancestral magic to serve as an intermediary between the dead and the living.
she lives in a teensy caravan with her gran and her little sister izwe, and has a respectfully-distant companionship with a fox named river.
ropa dropped out of school to help pay the bills, but she has an unquenchable thirst for knowledge, and on her rounds, in-between resolving the last-last wishes of the lingering departed, she listens to audiobooks and podcasts constantly—a true autodidact absorbing whatever she can, and making her own astute value judgments on what she learns.
That’s the thing about this learning stuff. No sooner have you picked one thing up before you’re sent off after another book. Sometimes the guys I listen to say contradictory things and I have to choose for myself who’s right and who’s wrong. Other times they’re both right and it makes no sense to pick one over the other, so you just have to be pragmatic: pick what works now and discard it for something else when the time comes. That’s how I like to operate. Can’t afford to put myself in some sort of ideological straitjacket. That’s for losers.
it’s basically a supernatural missing persons story, populated by the mysterious characters that prowl thru the urban underbelly; urchins and those who seeking to exploit them—like dickens with a bit more dismemberment and a little of this:
i will absolutely read the rest of the series, because i am intrigued by that library, which was only a small part of this story, and i’m really drawn to ropa’s voice and attitude.