Monday, July 12, 2021

Shadow of the City: A Rocío and Hala novel

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Shadow of the City is the first book in a new fantasy alt-earth mystery (crossing my fingers) series by R. Morgan. Released 27th April 2021, it's 420 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. It's worth noting that the ebook format has a handy interactive table of contents as well as interactive links. I've really become enamored of ebooks with interactive formats lately.

I've been reading a lot more fantasy and speculative fiction lately, but I will always love well crafted murder mysteries. This is the best of both worlds. It's an alternate Earth South (or possibly Central) America and the main protagonists are two 40-something cops who are friends and colleagues. They're intelligent, diverse, with different strengths and very different backgrounds. They work well together and support one another. There's an ensemble cast and again, the author has done a very good job with the characterizations and dialogue. 

There were some slight pacing issues for me. It took me a lot longer to finish the book than it should have because I found the plot wasn't keeping me engaged and I kept being distracted by other reading tasks. I believe it's because of the background and world building necessary to the beginnings of an immersive series on a grand scale and that the setup takes time. The author is quite adept technically and I felt that the last half of the book moved a lot more smoothly and kept me interested. I am very much looking forward to future books featuring these two engaging smart detectives. Reading about the interplay between the different official governmental agencies and how they helped (or mostly hindered) one another was fun and I'm looking forward to the next volume.

I also liked the inclusiveness and non-binary-friendly setup and world building. It wasn't splashily written in the book, but pronouns are often of the non-gender-specific "-x" suffix such as "ministrix" and "senorx". Polyamory seems to be unexceptional and accepted. It was a breath of fresh air that it wasn't an issue. The author isn't strident or preachy, it's just written into the social structure and generally allowed to remain in the background. 

The language is fairly clean; there's cursing, but it's mostly in Benerex idiom. There is some possibly triggering content, psychological abuse, dismemberment (but contextually important to the plot development), and kidnapping for example. 

Four and a half stars. I enjoyed this one very much and would recommend it unreservedly to fans of fantasy mysteries. 

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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