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★★★✬☆ 3.5 stars
“So, writer, what sort of tale will you tell me tonight?”
“Well, reader, get yourself some strong tea and a nightlight, because I have a warm retro tale about street urchins in the 1930’s and… magic.”
“My my, writer, that sure sounds swell!”
“Brace yourself, reader, it truly is, even despite the somewhat cheesy dialogue.”
Okay. So you might be wondering why I’m starting the review like that. I just wanted to give you a taste of the dialogues in this book. But really, apart from the slightly weird tone and the fact that everyone uses everyone’s name in, like, every sentence, the book was good! It was that warm mixture of sepia photos, old coke ads, Chicago orphanages in the 30’s, smart-aleck minority gangsters in pinstripe suits and immortal magical cats that change face color when they feel emotions. And hey, with all that vintage feel going on, maybe even the dialogue makes sense? We can all think of that tone of voice in a mock-pre-war radio ad.
So the story goes something like this. Bartholomew is an ageless being, made for god knows what, downcast from god knows where (not in a bad way, though.)
Really, the mythology in this book is quite complicated, but done quite well. It comes across like American Gods – loads of different things, the pantheon and the rules of the world vast and mighty, but somehow still connected with the thing here or there you might have heard it, perhaps in an old Irish nursery tale. Yes, it is complicated, but it makes you feel like this isn’t the end and you’ll find out more in the coming books. Which is all fine.
Another thing I found truly refreshing was that our two main characters are young boys – teens, but not YA teens (I mean the tone). They are not girls (95% of the books right now seem to be about girls. It’s good that we’re reversing history, but… you know. I haven’t read about boys in soooooo long!). They are also not grown women, nor are they grown men or superheroes. They are two lost orphan boys, not too special, just shabby, and I like reading about that. It was something I’ve forgotten people wrote about! (Is it just me..?)
The story does fumble sometimes, sometimes it drags. The immortal being is clearly denser than you and me, because he can’t see through things we can clearly see are going to happen in the story. The gangsters and thugs happen to unluckily be of my nationality, but hey. These flaws are mostly debut-related (apart from the gangsters, of course) and they don’t get in the way of enjoying your reading experience. This is a quick good fantasy, moreover – a strong start to a series. Which is why I know that I’ll be looking forward to the sequel as soon as it shows up. And if you’re a fantasy fan, especially retro – go for it. I’m sure you’ll enjoy.
My thanks to W.I. Creative Publishing and NetGalley for giving me a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.
Have you heard of The Breedling? And have you also missed books with boys as protagonists? Do you like retro reads?
I’m Evelina and I blog about books that made an impression on me. I love middle grade, women’s, scifi and some literary too.