When this one slid across my mentions as a NetGalley that I could request, I was immediately there. Who could resist?
So thanks to the author, as well as Tor via NetGalley for the review copy.
This is not the story you think it is. These are not the characters you think they are. This is not the book you are expecting.
In an alternate 1880s London, angels inhabit every public building, and vampires and werewolves walk the streets with human beings under a well-regulated truce. A fantastic utopia, except for a few things: Angels can Fall, and that Fall is like a nuclear bomb in both the physical and metaphysical worlds. And human beings remain human, with all their kindness and greed and passions and murderous intent.
Jack the Ripper stalks the streets of this London too. But this London has an Angel. The Angel of the Crows.
“How did you persuade him to let you keep the feather anyway?” I said. The corners of Crow’s mouth curved up.
“I implied strongly that it was sacred and had already been profaned by being found on a murdered body. I think he thinks I’m going to pray over it all night.”
“Is it sacred?”
So. This is an alternate-history Sherlock Holmes retelling with angels, demons, werewolves, vampires, and so on and so forth, written by the author of The Goblin Emperor. That as a sentence alone had me running full force into this book with glee.
The ‘Sherlock’ in this one is an angel named Crow. Angels in this world inhabit every public building and act as… a sort of protector. Crow is a little different in that his building doesn’t exist anymore, per sey. Most angels in this situation would Fall (which I understood to mean ‘blows up into pure evil,’ though this isn’t expanded on very much) but Crow has managed to circumvent that outcome and become a sort of… freelance angel. He helps the police solve crimes where he can.
We get this story from the POV of Doyle, who is our ‘Watson’. He is back from the war, having been injured by a Fallen, which has greater repercussions than just the fact that his leg is injured and he walks with a cane. Doyle ends up renting a flat with Crow and they become partners in crime… solving? As you would have guessed. 😀
This one more or less reads like a few short stories or novellas that come together as one to tell a bigger story. The prose is quite lovely, and I really enjoyed some of the characters, most especially Crow.
Which makes it a little unfortunate really that I just… didn’t love this one. I liked it fairly well, I just found myself having a harder and harder time staying interested in it as it went along.
Doyle tells the story well enough, but he’s not very interesting most of the time. Given a few different points of fact about him, he should be very interesting indeed, but he just seemed… rather flat. Crow stole the show here, as one would expect.
All told, it was interesting, at times, and I never found myself disliking it, but I never found myself in love with it either. I have really enjoyed books from this author before, both under a pseudonym and not, and so I’m really hoping that this one is just an… isolated bounce-off. 3/5 stars.