Detective noir meets The Witcher in a post-apocalyptic city reminiscent of Victorian London.
New London is protected by a stone shelter to keep out the rainwights–the monsters that tore down civilization. It is a dark city, choked with soot and crime. On these perpetually lamplit streets, Kade Blackcap was once a famous detective.
Overburdened with guilt at sending a man to the noose, Kade can’t bear to take a case for fear of the consequences. But with the taxman breathing down his neck, he has to find work soon, or he’ll lose the house his father left him.
He has one hope left.
Instead of chasing criminals, he turns to hunting the monsters of myth his peers refuse to believe exist.
Full disclosure: I received this novella to judge for the SFINCS semi-finals. Opinion is my own, and does not represent that made by the team. I did also happen to purchase this in paperback, as I prefer to read physical, and I liked the cover. I am actually new here, and am a member of team Jamreads for SFINCS, so not really sure if this will be considered a weird double dip or not–maybe I’ll be walked off the premise.
It’s all about that author exposure though! Congrats on the semi-finals!
This novella mixes quite a lot into it. It’s post apocalyptic event, with seemingly more of a fantasy based event than a scifi one, but the notes of both are still there. In that sense it’s urban fantasy, but as it’s after the events, it reads as a fantasy world unlike our own in ways, and yet it has notes of a Victorian-era London to it as well. Not to mention I’ve seen reviewers call the author a grimdark writer too. Oh, and this features a detective, so it’s mystery as well. Far be it from me to tell you what genre to call it, but I personally loveeee blended genres.
Kade Blackcap is an out-of-luck and yet above-average sleuth. When his abilities lead to a guilty man being hung, he finds that he can’t exactly cope with the death of a human, guilty or not. This spirals out of control until he’s about to end up on the street. Rashly, he decides to run something in the paper for a more superstitious clientele. It’s vastly unsuccessful, but he’s not a quitter.
I love that our detective’s journey involved researching mythology and folklore from the world’s past in the library. He is not naturally knowledgeable or gifted and winning without trials. He struggles with a penchant for sipping from his flask, so more often than not he’s stumbling to his destination or has a headache. Not necessarily uncommon for the mystery genre, but it’s pretty cool to see this implanted into a world that’s much less common for it. And it makes Kade read as incredibly grounded, real.
I did find the mystery itself to be a little on the nose, but obviously the twist is that he switches to supernatural detecting, and in that sense, it worked very well for me. It is also a bit shy on its explanation of what happened to the world, again, I think possibly (like others that follow this format) because it came out after book one, and perhaps the author did not want to explain it twice. But because this is a mystery, and such a singularly focused event, I found it helped the mystery rather than hindering the book.
A real killer for me.
And a quick little highlight for this add-on as well! This is an in-world holiday special, an idea that I saw a few authors do this year, and I think it’s an absolutely wonderful idea. And this one was a good example of why. It’s still a mystery, and the characters are still 100% themselves, but you get this cozier atmosphere. This was a quick little blast of a story.
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