My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I received a free copy of this book via Netgalley, in exchange for an unbiased review.
Straight off the bat: I LOVE the world-building for this book. As a writer myself, world-building is an area of weakness for me, and I always get a little bit excited to see someone nailing that aspect of writing. If you are a world-building junkie, there is a lot to like, and the sheer scope of ambition is impressive. The science that underpins the setting is a good blend of fantastical, fresh, and believable, blending new and familiar elements alike (eg, dimension hopping and a lot of Greek myth). I also enjoyed the voice of the MC, having a fondness for noir (and it is VERY noir in atmosphere, despite the unusual setting.)
The MC is an intriguing character, and because I don’t want to get into spoilers I’ll avoid giving too many specifics here, but suffice to say he’s had a rather colourful life and is in possession of a varied skill set.
However–and this is where my review strays into the realm of the subjective–he verges into being coy, at times. Zephyr, one of two sidekicks throughout the novel, has this to say about the MC:
“Talking to you is like peeling an onion. Every time I think I’m getting somewhere, it turns out to be just another layer.”
…And that’s often how I felt as well. The MC’s past and history start out as a mystery, and usually unveiled in moments of crisis. For example (no spoilers), MC finds himself in a jam–so we dip into a flashback about the time he did X Y Z, which gave him X item or Y skill, which he then promptly utilises.
The reveals were funny/engaging, and well done. But too many of them began to feel like, the MC would always escape every impossible situation even if we as the reader could not see the way out, because he simply had an endless well of past experiences and items to draw on. Every time I thought I knew the limit of the MC’s options, he would pull out something fresh, so I began to assume he would *always* do this, for every encounter.
I hope this makes sense, I feel I am not explaining very well! Either way, it’s not a huge issue, and is very subjective as I said, but *for me* this meant some the tension didn’t run as high as it might have done.
Overall I really enjoyed the book, though, and would certainly recommend it when it’s out on shelves. Intrigued to see any sequels and what else the author does with the setting.