Saturday, June 12, 2010

Spiral Hunt

Spiral Hunt by Margaret Ronald

This book started so well. An urban fantasy that was refreshing in several ways:
-Immersion in the urban setting, in this case Boston. It's traces an elaborate background of Irish immigration and makes that fully compatible with the background of magic elements described here.
-Taking the magic system in a nuanced layout. Rather than a stark division between full-blooded magic people completely aware of the magic world and clueless mortals, the book traces spectrums
-Having a gritty first person noir protagonist that doesn't make me want to smack said person. (Take note, Dresden Files and Rosemary and Rue)

It's a good setup and has a nice sense of momentum in the main premise. I didn't care about the inevitable mystery the main characters were focused on, but I wasn't indifferent to the characters themselves or the way they set about trying to deal with the challenge. Unfortunately the plot implodes in the last third of the book, all kinds of craziness with kidnapping, pursuit, weird rituals, and gods running around with their avatars. A major failure in that aspect, and it weakens a lot of what I found most appealing in the initial setup, making for an cosmic clash of extreme magical forces that feel much more conventional as well as making less sense. It's a stronger disconnect than I get in a lot of books--I was very fond of the general atmosphere, the beginning and much of the characterization, but was very turned off by the eventual turn of the plot. On a basic level it seems I didn't want to go where Ronald's story lead, which despite all the strengths makes me disinclined to seek this author out again.

Similar to and better than: Rosemary and Rue by Seanan McGuire

Similar to and worse than: Palimpsest by Catherynne Valente

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