By Charlie Fletcher
Not My Edition:
Paperback, 434 pages
2014, Orbit Books
The border between the natural and supranatural is thin and growing thinner. The Oversight must keep the peace between the magical and non-magical beings of this world, but with their membership dwindling and the forces of darkness growing bolder, they’re finding it harder than ever to do their jobs. Will a mysterious girl dropped at their doorstep be their savior or their undoing?
This book is a wonderful mix of Victorian and paranormal fantasy. I was lured in by the premise (okay, and the cover too!) and hooked by the characters and setting. I’m a sucker for books that blend magical elements with the “real world” (versus ones that just create a whole new world where magic is the norm). It makes me feel like there could be strange magical creatures lurking in the shadows of my own life. Then you throw in the fantastic Victorian-era (I keep saying this, but I know nothing about history so sorry if it’s Edwardian-era or something) clothing, demons with bone pets and mirrors you can travel through and I’m a happy camper!
As mentioned in a previous post, this book opens with a “dramatis personae” list of characters before the story starts. It’s been a while since I’ve seen one of these and I’ll admit I was a bit intimidated. I worried that perhaps I would need a cheat sheet because I was about to be overwhelmed by the characters, or that perhaps they would fall flat and I’d have a hard time remembering them.
Fortunately, my first impression proved wrong. The characters stood out on their own and I didn’t end up referencing the pages at all. I found each of the main characters to be interesting and I love most of them. I especially love the relationship between the enemies (of which there are many) because they are working together temporarily, but there’s enough tension to keep it interesting and you never really know who is more powerful and who might be double crossing the others.
I also enjoyed the slow exposition regarding the history of the Oversight and how readers were given little tidbits here and there. I still have a lot of questions, but in a good way – I’m interested in what else Fletcher is going to reveal. This is a much better strategy than the info-dumping that can often be found in fantasy (and other genres) – whenever there’s a new person someone has to unnaturally deliver all the information they could ever need to know about the group/kingdom/whatever and it gets tiring.
I’m glad I borrowed the second book from the library at the same time so I could dive right in! The Oversight was exciting and pleasure to read and I highly recommend it.
I don’t want to talk too much about the plot of The Paradox, because it picks up right where The Oversight left off. But I will say that as a sequel, it lived up to its predecessor by keeping me invested in the plot and characters. Fletcher did a good job of lightly reviewing some of the information from the first book without overloading (I hate when books dump half of book one back into your lap – I already read the first book, that’s why I’m reading the sequel!) He also continued to divulge new information about the history of the Oversight. He added a few new characters (yes, there’s more Dramatis Personae pages) without clogging up the central plot.
I just found this series to be really fun and exciting. I’m upset that the book ended on a cliffhanger because I need to know what happens next! Fletcher’s website says the third book, The Reddest Hand, is due out in May of this year, but I can’t find anything on Amazon or Barnes and Noble to confirm that. I need more!