As you may have figured out if you’ve been following my reviews for any length of time, I’m a big fan of magical crime novels. They get bonus points if they’re set in London, because I enjoy the familiar setting, but on the whole, if there is magic and crime and detectives who may or may not also be wizards, sign me up. So I requested this from NetGalley because PIs in another world sounded like it was going to be my thing.
This was a quick read that I finished in about half an hour and found reasonably enjoyable, but I was still somewhat confused at the end.
What I’m not sure about is whether it’s really a standalone, or whether it’s intended to be read as a companion novella to a series that I don’t know about. I say this because certain aspects were explained as you would expect from the first book in a series, others were taken as read, and the worldbuilding seemed very hurried and rushed over. That in particular was a shame — I could figure out the gaps in the story, but I felt there was a lot of potential in the worldbuilding that we just didn’t get to see.
On the whole, that would be my main complaint. The whole book felt rushed. Now, as I’ve said, it was a quick read, more a novella than a full-length book. However, it had as much plot as a novel — the only reason it was so brief was because events were tersely summarised instead of shown, with a lot happening exceedingly rapidly. In many ways, it felt like a very detailed outline for a novel without the depth filled in.
I’m not great with short fiction, so maybe I’m wrong, but this definitely felt like a story that would be more effective if it was allowed to fill a full-length book.
Something I did really like was that the protagonist was trans, and while this was a major part of his life, it wasn’t the focus of the story. It played into a lot of plot points and shaped some of his decisions, but it wasn’t in itself a plot point, you know? I appreciate that kind of thing — more characters should be coincidentally queer like this.
However, I have to say that the book overall didn’t work for me, because I found it hard to follow without more backstory and depth of worldbuilding. This was especially disappointing because it had so much potential to be something I’d really enjoy, but it didn’t live up to it.
And if this is part of a series (which wasn’t indicated on Goodreads), then that needs to be made clear, because my enjoyment of it was definitely inhibited by my confusion. It looks from other reviews that I wasn’t the only one who felt this way, which is a shame. Like I said: a lot of potential here, but very little of it actually realised. Perhaps if the book was twice as long, it might have been more successful.