Author: Simon R. Green
Blurb: Taylor is the name, John Taylor. My card says I’m a detective, but what I really am is an expert on finding lost things. It’s part of the gift I was born with as a child of the Nightside.
I left there a long time ago, with my skin and sanity barely intact. Now I make my living in the sunlit streets of London. But business has been slow lately, so when Joanna Barrett showed up at my door, reeking of wealth, asking me to find her runaway teenage daughter, I didn’t say no.
Then I found out exactly where the girl had gone.
The Nightside. That square mile of Hell in the middle of the city, where it’s always three A.M. Where you can walk beside myths and drink with monsters. Where nothing is what it seems and everything is possible.
I swore I’d never return. But there’s a kid in danger and a woman depending on me. So I have no choice—I’m going home.
What’s interesting about this book is that I didn’t like much about it, but I still don’t consider it a letdown. I knew going in that it had a lower star rating than most books I pick up, but in my desire to burn through every urban fantasy book I can find, I picked it up anyway. After reading it, I know why it has a rather low rating, and I agree with that rating wholeheartedly. But despite that, I’m still planning to pick up the sequel. Let me explain why.
The Bad: This book has two major issues. The first is that the writing is all over the place. There’s a lot of info dumps, some of them carried through dialogue, that weigh down the pacing and make the book drag. Some of the paragraphs awkwardly switch gears in the middle, and some lines seem tacked on or unnecessary, like idle author thoughts someone forgot to edit out.
The second issue is that the character’s personality is all over the place. Instead of developing in a natural manner, his mindset abruptly shifts several times throughout the book (the worst shift being a bad case of “instalove” that doesn’t fit the character at all and barely fits the story).
Usually, one of those two major problems would turn me off a book early on, and I’d DNF it. Because I don’t have patience for major issues these days. I have too many books, and too little time to read. But I stuck with this book despite those problems. Because…
The Good: The world-building in this book is awesome. This book goes far beyond the standard urban fantasy tropes when it comes to world-building, and every element of the Nightside that gets introduced is just as cool and interesting as the last. For most of the book, I was honestly just reading to see what neat stuff would pop up next, and there was so much neat stuff that it kept me satisfied throughout the entire story despite the overall lacking quality of the plot and characters.
So, all in all, this isn’t a great book. I’d hardly call it a good book. But if you’re big on fantasy world-building, you might want to give it a shot anyway.