Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Book Report: A GOOD Urban Fantasy

I'm kind of time-shifting my week, since I discovered that the way to watch the Olympics is on the NBC Sports cable network, where they show the figure skating live in the morning. Unlike on the prime-time show, they show the whole competition instead of just the Americans and the really famous skaters from other countries, and they just show the one event instead of bouncing around and dragging it out. There are minimal fluff pieces, and few commercials. Plus, I like the announcing team better. So, I guess I'll be spending my mornings watching skating and then moving most of my work to afternoon and evening. That's actually not a huge difference from the way I usually work.

Yesterday, as I was working through my villain's evil schemes, I had a brainstorm about the B plot of the book. What I was doing seemed to lack purpose and was only about finding something to do with that character. But once I figured out what was going on, I came up with an even better idea. This is going to require a fair amount of rewriting, but I'm barely at the halfway point, and I'd rather rewrite parts of half a book and then move forward in the right direction than rewrite a whole book.

I have to thank whoever recommended the series by Ben Aaronovitch because I read the first book, Midnight Riot, and I think this comes the closest I've found to being a Harry Potter for grown-ups. It has that similar British whimsy and tone and the juxtaposition of the real world and the magical world that I like.

The story involves a young rookie police constable who gets stuck guarding a crime scene overnight until the evidence collection team can get there, and a witness to the crime approaches him -- but the witness is a ghost. The fact that he can communicate with the ghost brings him to the attention of what's essentially Scotland Yard's X-Files unit, and soon he finds himself apprenticed to the wizard Inspector who runs the unit. Now he's training to be a wizard, studying Latin, and trying to solve an odd case of normally non-violent people who are erupting in violent rages. Meanwhile, he's got to mediate a dispute between the spirits representing different segments of the Thames.

It does get a bit dark and gory in places, but I love the voice, the bits of humor and the characters. It kind of reads like what you'd get if Terry Pratchett decided to write something like the Dresden Files. I'll definitely be grabbing the rest of the series. But I have to say, the covers don't do the books any favors. I'm not sure I'd have picked this off the shelf if I hadn't known something else about it.

Now I have to work to get my singing voice back in shape because the choir director called me this morning to say he wants to do a piece that involves a soprano solo that he thinks would really work for me. Eeep.

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