*I received a free ecopy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.*
Right off the bat the writing style struck me as different but also familiar, and even though I hate comparing books to other books, I have to say it: this was like a modern day, non-romantic, adult, urban fantasy version of The Princess Bride. The story, the plot, the characters, and the setting were all completely different, but it was written in a way that was kind of distant and whimsical and roundabout yet also matter-of-fact all at once, and it had that same type of absurd, quirky humor—that kind that just makes me shake my head and say, “What the &#@$?” while I can’t help but laugh. And I loved both of those things.
Unfortunately I didn’t love the rest. I’m just kind of confused because this book… didn’t have a plot? There was no goal or main storyline. Each chapter was just a different, random anecdote about the protagonist, some new bit of trouble he got himself into or endeavor he decided to set off on, most (if not all) of which were anticlimactic and lacking in urgency or any sense of consequence. In one, he and his friends accidentally ended up in some steampunk realm for a few months in which they joined some groups of rebels, and then they went back to their world. In another he took some drug and ended up sharing his body with a god for a few hours. In another he realized a group of people was planning on making him a human sacrifice, so he turned the tables and made them all play games to determine who would be sacrificed while he officiated (and thus was in no danger), and then he left the next day. In another he got cursed by his nemesis, who never showed up anywhere else in the story. There was also a lot of description of M just traveling—walking through some different realms, taking subways through some different realms, taking magical shortcuts through door after door, walking through a library and passing different sections of books, walking through a creepy house and passing all sorts of weird things, etc. I could’ve skipped any chapter—could’ve skipped four in a row even—and not missed anything. Individually some of them were entertaining, but I never had that “I need to know what will happen next!” feeling. Eventually I reached a point when I kind of just wanted the book to end since it was clear nothing of any importance was going to happen. And that mention in the blurb of M calling on all his magic and being a hero? That didn’t happen until the last 6%, and it too was anticlimactic and not intense the way the blurb makes it seem.
Overall, I feel kinda disappointed. Did I just not “get” this book or something? I think I could’ve loved it because it had the exact kind of absurd humor I love, but I need there to be an actual story too in order to enjoy a book.
M is a drifter with a sharp tongue, few scruples, and limited magical ability, who would prefer drinking artisanal beer to involving himself in the politics of the city. Alas, in the infinite nexus of the universe which is New York, trouble is a hard thing to avoid, and when a rivalry between the city’s two queens threatens to turn to all out war, M finds himself thrust in thrust in the unfamiliar position of hero. Now, to keep the apocalypse from descending on the Big Apple, he’ll have to call in every favor, waste every charm, and blow every spell he’s ever acquired – he might even have to get out of bed before noon.
Enter a world of Wall Street wolves, slumming scenesters, desperate artists, drug-induced divinities, pocket steam-punk universes, hipster zombies, and phantom subway lines. Because the city never sleeps, but is always dreaming.