(Buy it HERE.)
First things first–I read this on the MyMustReads app for Android and absolutely hated it. It’s poorly designed and made my reading experience far less enjoyable. 0/10, will not use again unless they overhaul it entirely. Delete, block, ban. UGH.
Fortunately the book in question was more enjoyable than the app I used to read it, although it still wasn’t perfect. It was initially described to me as “Puerto Rican zombie detective in Brooklyn” and I was instantly sold. I was all too ready to put Malagueña-smoking, sword-cane wielding, santeria-observing half-dead investigator Carlos Delacruz in my urban fantasy clique along with Harry Dresden, Damali Richards, Jilly Coppercorn and Elena Michaels but…
…man does this book start slow. Painfully slow. It took about ten chapters for the momentum to pick up and even then–there are a lot of dips and lulls in the action. I’m not sure how–the premise is very interesting. One day, Carlos woke up dead–well, half-dead, anyway. Since then he’s been hunting and dispatching Brooklyn’s errant ghosts on behalf of a mysterious afterlife bureaucracy, convinced that he’s the only one of his kind. Until one day–he’s not…⠀
It’s hard to review this book since it’s such a mixed bag. Sometimes it lurches clumsily and aimlessly along much like its half-dead protagonist. Other times it’s evocative and gripping. Ultimately it’s uneven and a little flat, even though the premise is fire. Nothing is explained enough and Carlos is a pretty dull hero who does what he’s told and rarely has ideas of his own. The best bits are an action packed trip to the underworld and the obligatory action-driving urban fantasy love story. In the latter, the love interest is unfortunately more of a prop than a person but it’s one of the few times Carlos rouses from his sleepy half-dead expository drone and really becomes an interesting narrator with an inner life and motivation. There are a few beautifully written love scenes that made me bump this up a star.
What saves the book, time and again, are the side characters–sniffy dead bureaucrats, the local santeria’s resident Baba, his angrily white-passing indigenous lawyer boyfriend, a very unlucky Hasidic realtor, and Esther, a motherly spirit literally attached to an library for the spirit world. Because of them, and the fact that I’ve read and enjoyed some of Older’s other work (namely Shadowshaper), I’d probably pick up the next in the series if I see it somewhere by chance–but I won’t go out of my way to find it.⠀
3 stars and a defibrillation to Half-Resurrection Blues.
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