Tuesday, 7 May 2013

Review: Demons in the Big Easy

Demons in the Big Easy
Demons in the Big Easy by Jamie Marchant

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

This is a novella. Personally, I generally wish novellas were longer, not only to prolong the reading experience, but also so that the characters and the setting have time to gain more depth. This novella is no exception. With that said, I did enjoy it.

There are some minor editing issues which I'll be addressing with the author directly, so I won't mention them here. Otherwise, the language is competently used, plain and unadorned. It's jeans and T-shirt language, not tuxedo language, which is fine for the purpose.

I liked the fact that the main character is an elderly woman. That's a nice departure for fantasy, and something I could stand to see more of. Her granddaughter I found irritating, especially the fourth time that her response to a crisis was to sit over someone who was knocked out repeating "Please don't be dead". Three times is the traditional number that you can pull this kind of thing out. After the fourth, it gets old. I also find characters annoying when they are highly anxious but cause trouble for other people by occasionally doing something rash from which they have to be rescued, and such is the granddaughter.

As I mentioned, not a lot of space in a novella for character development, but there was some (not by the annoying granddaughter, though). The main character, in particular, had an important change of perspective in the course of the story. One character functioned purely as a McGuffin or plot motivator, without taking any action or even having any lines, and in general I don't love that, but if it's not overdone I can live with it.

The plot is straightforward enough, as you'd expect in such a short work, with some nice foreshadowing of a twist which still took me by surprise.

The setting, I realize, was probably explored much more thoroughly in the longer book that comes before this one. This is a reverse portal fantasy (someone from another world coming to ours), and most of it was in our world's New Orleans, but what we saw of the other world seemed fairly generic medieval-ish fantasy. I wasn't sure how the naming and language worked; some of the names seemed Celtic, others more Anglo-Saxon, and the main character's name was Greek, but they all apparently spoke modern English which was understood in New Orleans without any locals commenting on their accents. Again, that may be justified in the earlier book. There was a somewhat simplistic moralising moment contrasting the other world's superior understanding of the balance of nature with our world's, a point probably better made by showing than telling, and which was made, I thought, adequately by showing later in the book.

Overall, I'm not quite excited enough by this to give it four stars, but it's a competent story well told.

I received a free copy of the book via the Kindle Book Review site in exchange for an honest review.

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