October 2009, Angry Robot Books
528 pages, Paperback
Review Copy (uncorrected proof)
Yunaleska's recommended rating: ♥♥♥♥♥
Blurb taken from Angry Robot Books
There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untained… unless a new hero can be found.
Neverwhere’s faster, smarter brother has arrived. The immense SIXTY-ONE NAILS follows Niall Petersen, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too.
Forgive me for smiling at the computer. But if you check out the Angry Robot web page, you'll see that US release isn't out until June 2010. I wish you could all have this book sooner, but it is nice to have books published in England before America. A lot of my books (in the past) have been by American authors and I had to wait ages to get my hands on a copy.
Anyway, back to the review (apparently sugar induced hyperactivity takes me on strange tangents). This isn't a fluffy bunny, cute HEA (Happily Ever After) fantasy. It is dark. The darkness begins in the first chapter when Niall thinks he witnesses a train jumper (no, this isn't someone who jumps from train to train. It is someone jumps in front of a train, and normally doesn't get up again). This beginning got my attention - I wanted to keep reading to see how Niall reacts to witnessing such an act.
His reactions prove very interesting as he meets with a woman who appears old, but who can shape shift her appearance, called Blackbird. I agreed with Niall that Blackbird could be a crazy old lady not to be trusted, until he encounters one of the Feyre. I wouldn't want to meet them in dark alleyways. Poor Niall has to leave the life he has behind, including his daughter who lives with his ex-wife.
The reasons are valid - he wouldn't really want an entity which leaves mould all over the place hunting down his family after it ruins his flat (and kills a policeman). It isn't his fault that the powers he possess are rare and belong to a group of Feyre who, in the past, have committed deeds of questionable morality. It isn't the powers which help him on his journey with Blackbird (under the codename of Rabbit) - not entirely. It is the knowledge he has built up by living life, his smart brain (which sometimes makes mistakes) and his ability to think outside the box.
Honestly speaking, when I read the blurb I was interested by the concept of the book but I did have reservations as to how much I would relate to an adult male. Surprisingly I came to care for Niall's character pretty quickly. It's a combination of the danger Niall finds himself tangled up in, the oddness of Blackbird (an old lady as a guide = a new one - she is no fairy godmother creating a carriage from a pumpkin), and the richness of the world that Mike Shevdon creates which has me eager for the sequel. I think in some ways it helps knowing London a little, because automatically I have a snapshot of Niall's world in my head, fleshed out with the descriptions in the book.
As Niall/Rabbit and Blackbird race all over London, visiting interesting places and meeting some people who are better off not being met, I crept closer to the edge of my seat as events unfold. The end of the book has Niall being a significantly different person to who he was at the beginning. I like the evolution, he has got out of the rut in his life and now has a role in keeping the world safe. And also his daughter safe.
Mike Shevdon blogs about his writing life here.
Book 2, Road to Bedlam is out in July 2010 (UK release). Yes I will be trying to secure a copy.
Like this? Try Feast of Souls by Celia Friedman