Hey Brazen Babes & Guys! Please welcome Sophia back to the blog, she has another awesome review for us!
Genre: Historical Urban Fantasy Suspense
Author: Willow Palecek
Source: Net Galley
City of Wolves was a lot of things and all those things were packed into a swift-moving novella. While I enjoyed this one, as, indeed, I did, I also felt that if this was not serving as a prequel- introductory story to something beyond then it fell short. Because I want to give the benefit of the doubt, I'm going to be generous as well as hopeful that there is a whole lot more coming from this fascinating and exciting alternate historical fantasy suspense staring the most impressive, witty, and roguish investigator for the common people, Alexander Drake.
As, I noted, this is an alternate history. It is based on perhaps a smash-up of Scottish history and English history with the paranormal elements of magic and more tossed in for good measure. Alexander Drake fought for the loyalist cause and they lost. Now he is scraping a living as an investigator. He could work for the government as one of their detectives just as he could take cases involving the nobility which would both pay vastly more than the pittance he earns on uninteresting cases, but he's had bad experiences with both and wants to just live his life without the trouble that comes from tangling with his supposed betters.
But, unfortunately, if he wants room and board and to stay out of debtor's prison, he must take this latest case involving the death of an aristocrat and a missing will. As soon as he takes the case, someone would rather him not find out the truth. Drake has a time of it staying one step ahead of the government investigator and also the shadowy nemesis trying to stop him for good.
Alright, this was a novella so it clipped along pretty well. I was immediately taken with the main character, Alexander Drake. He's the underdog who is cynical and somewhat disillusioned, but he has a code of morality and he is loyal. He might take the short cut to get there, but he is honorable in his own way.
I enjoyed the introduction to Alexander's world. It is the British Empire essentially- there is a monarchy, a government, a class system, and regional types that are familiar, but there is also the known use of magic, a little gadgetry, and another surprise element that I'll not mention by name so as not to spoil things.
The mystery was moderately challenging though I figured out quite a bit well before the end. That said, there were a few surprises and it was great following along with Alexander as he tracked down the trail of clues and did his 'voila' at the end. But that last jangling line of reveal at the end is what has me believing that there is oh so much more to come. I did have one niggle about the mystery in that I couldn't remember the story making clear why the victim chose to do what he did. Again, I wonder if that is part of what might come after this one. I knew who killed the victim and who was after Drake, but in the victim's case, the 'why' was murky.
So, whether this was the start of something more or its own shorter story, I still had a pretty good time with an engaging main character, worldbuilding, and suspense plot. The author did a bang up job with her debut. I would recommend it for those who like a blend of history, mystery, urban fantasy, and steampunk (or as the book is described by the blurb- Gaslight Fantasy Noir).
*I received this book from Net Galley in exchange of an honest review.
Many thanks to Sophia for stopping by BnB Reviews!
Sophia is a quiet though curious gal who dabbles in cooking, book reviewing, and gardening. Encouraged and supported by an incredible man and loving family. A Northern Californian transplant to the Great Lakes Region of the US. Lover of Jane Austen, Baseball, Cats, Scooby Doo, and Chocolate. Associate Reviewer for Delighted Reader blog
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