Genre fiction lover: Romance, Sci Fi, Fantasy, Mystery, Urban Fantasy
From a plot perspective, this book is deceptively simple. Honestly not a lot really happens. But that is just the impish devil that lives in details. The 'not a lot happening' isn't really noticeable. Maybe that is that ineffable place where good writing just elevates a standard story? I dunno. Whatever it is, all I can say is that I loved this book. I started it yesterday evening, got caught up in it really quickly, stayed up late reading it, and picked it up to finish it before I got out of bed this morning.
In the most basic sense, I this book is all world-building set inside the framework of a damsel-in-distress plot. This should set off all kinds of alarms. But the execution is so well done and the characters and scenes are so interestingly crafted that you really don't notice (or care) because the world building is really quite fascinating.
In this version of our world humans share the world with 'Others' -- wolves (in other urban fantasy works they would be called werewolves but that does not seem right somehow in this book) the Sanguiniti (vampires), various other shape shifter types, Elementals (beings that control air, earth, water etc.) and the very mysterious Other that is Tessa.
The thing I like best about the Others is how very 'other' the author really made them. Make no mistake, these are not just shape shifters or vampires who shift seemlessly into human skin and are human underneath it all. They are not human. They don't think like humans and do not understand them and do not think of them as worthwhile beings for the most part. They are not comfortable walking around in human skin.
Humans and Others have learned to coexist in what can only be described as a tenuous, sometimes uneasy detente. Humans control the technology and entertainments and comforts that the Others have come to enjoy, and depend on while the Others control the natural resources that humans are required to live with. But Humans are rightly afraid of the Others and most of the Others simply think of Humans as just meat. There are rules and laws the exist to guide their shared existence, but it only takes one small thing and heated tempers to set something cataclysmic off because even amongst the Others there exist things that are more dangerous than anyone can imagine.
Into this comes Meg. A young woman who is on the run. She stumbles onto an Other Courtyard -- a sort of reservation where the Others live in bigger cities and is outside of Human law. She is given the job of Human Liaison, an important position that is critical to keeping the lines of communication open between Humans and Others.
The lion's share of the book is is about Meg acclimating to her job and learning (as we do through her) about the denizens of the Courtyard. Of course Meg has a huge secret that will have major ramifications later on in the book.
But it is the people Meg encounters and the consequences of her secret that make the book so damned readable. The climactic scenes at the end are fantastic and worth a couple of go-back-and-read-agains.
Yeah, this has a very 'first book' feel with the heavy world building, but that gets a hand-wave from me because it was ...like I said before...fascinating. I enjoyed how the author took some fairly common urban fantasy tropes and bent them. There is a bit of a running joke in the book about how the humans love to read novels where the wolves/vampires fall in love with humans. The Others laugh at these derisively. It is another way the author emphasizes how the Others are fairly pitiless when it comes to humans.
I suspect this is a new series? I hope so. I really want to visit this world again.