The trouble with most urban fantasy or fantasy mystery novels (besides their lousy excuses for love interest) is that they’re a quart low on imagination. If someone’s idea of worldbuilding is to copy every idea Stephanie Meyer or Laurell K. Hamilton ever had, why the heck are they writing fantasy at all?
I always knew that Seanan McGuire did not suffer from a lack of imagination. So I wasn’t worried about that.
The next problem with urban fantasy mysteries… well, it’s a lack of respect. Often the heroines are stupid, or trashy, or simply begging to be shot so that the reader will be put out of their misery. I mean, it’s one thing to be flawed; quite another to be the villain of the tale while supposedly the good guy.
This is not a problem with the private eye in this story. She does have to be injured repeatedly in order to find out the truth, but only in the traditional fashion of hardboiled private eyes. You can care about her and the people in this story. You will.
Finally, however, the real beauty of this story is how good a fantasy and how good a story it is, and how well it’s written. This is a darned good read, and a fast read, but one that will stick with you. It is not potato chips. It has meat on its bones.
This is real urban fantasy, in short, and not the McDonald’s equivalent that’s been crowding the shelves for the last few years. Buy it, buy it, buy it, before the last few copies disappear from your bookstore.
PS. If you don’t believe this is real fantasy, bear in mind that this PI had to spend twice seven years and a day as a fish, which is the sort of thing that really would happen if you were investigating around fairy tale critters and fairies. Does this happen to Anita Blake? Alas, no.