Sixty-One Nails

In Book Reviews on October 20, 2013 at 6:00 am
Sixty-One Nails

Angry Robot 2009

The tiny motes left hiding there were consumed almost incidentally as the flood of dark power swept through the the debris, the dark-spore sparking tiny flares in the roiling darkness as it was consumed. In those flares, I heard the echoes of distant screams as they boiled away.

It made me smile.

Nutshell blurb: Niall Peterson collapses on the London Underground and is revived by a woman who goes by the name of Blackbird. She is one of the Feyre and he must help her ensure that an ancient ritual is performed in order to prevent all of humankind from being enslaved by the Untainted.

I’m following Ben Aaronovitch on Goodreads and I saw that he read this book and gave it 5 stars so I thought I’d check it out. I can totally see why he did. This was an engaging read that kept me gripped. Anything that keeps me reading during times when I’m not meant to be doing so can only be a good thing.

There were a couple of things that kept me from giving it 5 stars (I gave it 4). I felt like there was a lot of exposition in this story. One character in the book gave us complete histories of the Feyre and various aspects of this other world and I just felt that it happened way too often. Sometimes it felt as if this woman was talking through the entire book and it got a bit tiresome.

I guess the question is: how do you convey the finer points of your world to your readers without straight out explaining every detail? (If you know, please tell me because I’m world-building in my own writing.)

There was another point that made me scratch my head. When Niall and Blackbird first met, she gave him the name Rabbit because names have power and the Feyre and Untainted don’t give out their names for fear of giving others an advantage over them. However, throughout the book she constantly calls him by his given name but it never really seemed to have any consequences.

Those were a couple of things that bothered me. Nothing too earth-shaking.

On to what I liked.

The hidden world and the folklore of the Feyre and Untainted were really well thought out and completely absorbing. It is really rich in detail which is hugely appealing. The characters are interesting and believable. I loved that the main character is a forty-two year old man with an ex-wife and daughter.

What I really loved is that it’s set in London. As with Moon Over Soho (if you haven’t read my post about it, you can find it here) I totally dig the mixture of fantasy with modern day London. There were so many places that I ‘recognised’. The story starts on the District Line which I take every day to work. I love reading about various places and picturing where they are in my head. It adds an extra level of detail that makes it even more charming.

Definitely a great read. Unfortunately, Goodreads doesn’t allow 1/2 stars or I would have given it 4 1/2. I’ll just have to settle for giving it 4 1/2 stars in my head.

I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for the second book.

  1. Sounds promising! I’ll have to look this one up. Have you read King Rat by China Mieville? It’s another fantastical story set in London. The city is very much a character.

    • I’ve tried to read Perdido Street Station by him but I didn’t connect with him so it’s kind of put me off his books. Although I might have to give him another chance if this book is different. Thanks for the suggestion!

  2. I’ve read some really thought-provoking blogposts by Keely from goodreads. Here he speaks about Bad Habits in writing magic: And links to an earlier blogpost on world-building: I like that he doesn’t give a correct answer (even though he has his very clear opinions) and really has made me self-conscious about what I’m doing with words.

  3. I’ve read most of this series (the last is out, but I haven’t gotten it yet), and enjoyed all the books. Though I think the writing gets better with each one, for me, the story didn’t. Still, Mr. Shevdon is on my list of author’s to watch. I’m hoping he’ll move onto many new series.

  4. This one has been on my radar for a while (so many books, so little time 🙂 ) and I hope to get to it soon. Great review!

  5. The “Neverwhere for the next generation” blurb caught my attention. And I have also been put off by those exposition-heavy scenes in novels, but also struggle to avoid them in my own writing. I’m surprised by how many acclaimed novels fall into the same bad habits. Thanks for the review!

  6. […] is the second book in The Courts of the Feyre series. The first one is Sixty-One Nails. Feel free to click on the link to read my thoughts about […]

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