Friday, August 19, 2016

Honourable Mention: Poison City (London Tau volume 1)

This volume by Paul Crilley is the first of the London Tau series and I received this as part of the Amazon Vine programme. The article, therefore, is an extension of the review I posted on Amazon in the first instance.

The book carries blurb that connects it to Harry Potter – an obvious advertisers’ choice given the involvement of magic – and also the works of Ben Aaronovitch. The latter is obvious as it involves a supernatural division of the police but based in Durban, South Africa rather than London, England.

However Crilley has created a radically different character to Peter Grant. If Grant is innocence facing the unknown then Crilley’s character, Gideon (or London) Tau, is the face that has peered into the abyss for way too long and has come away jaded and, ultimately corrupt. Perhaps likening this to the Godfather of Urban Fantasy, Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, would have been more accurate. In Tau Crilley has created a flawed anti-hero and that is part of the draw of the volume.

The writing is crisp and urgent, with some great ideas thrown into the mix. We are treated to a world where fae and orisha lurk just out of view of the ordinary person, where vampires stalk the night and werehyena guard townships. His spirit guide is a talking, alcoholic drunk (and a mean one at that) dog and there is an interesting take on Judaeo-Christian mythology also.

So, the vampires. These come into the book early on as the first murder that Tau is investigating is a ramanga – a low level vampire that consumes any blood spilt by a tribal leader, if they accidentally cut themselves, any waste items such as nail clippings, to prevent enemies being able to get their hands on it and use it in magic. This ramanga also, it later transpires, happened to be a sin eater.

We also get to meet, in small sections, mpakafo, aigamucha, Nosferatu and asanbosam. There is also an angel, at one point, sniffing a child’s soul as a drug and the vampires are being controlled by Lilith. However the vampiric element is quite a small part of the novel – hence the honourable mention – and the main focus are Lilith and the sin eaters. Whilst the sin eaters do consume sin (including the memory of the sin), it is not a vampiric activity in itself. The sin eater holds that sin and memory and passes it on to another sin eater before they die (or it returns to the sinner).

And that, as they say, is that. As the opener for an urban fantasy series I would recommend the volume.

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