This one is ridiculous, you guys.
Ok so Myfanwy (rhymes with ‘Tiffany’) wakes up covered in bruises, surrounded by twitchy dead people wearing latex gloves, and with no idea who she is. And you are like, Le sigh, I grow weary of people waking up with no idea who they are. Right? And so you should. Especially when Myfanwy finds a letter from her past self in her coat all, This is who you are and what happened to you. Grow some new tropes, por favor.
But then, ok, the old Myfanwy was a high(ish)-up in The Court, a secret government organization that deals with the supernatural, staffed by people who also by the way mostly have powers themselves. Myfanwy, for example, can control people’s bodies (like, she can make you shoot yourself in the brain OR she can just turn off your eyes). And an ancient, scary enemy of the organization has re-reared its head and possibly infiltrated the Court oh and did I mention it was a member of the Court who wiped Myfanwy’s memory and tried to kill her? *looks around shiftily* So, more tension, that.
And New Myfanwy knows all this because Old Myfanwy received a series of predictions that she was about to lose her memory, so she writ her New Self a stack of letters. Are these letters written for Maximum Tantalizing Reveal, rather than Maximum Expediency, As One Would Expect From The Highly-Efficient And Pragmatic Person Writing Them? Yes’m. And I don’t care, not the least little bit.
And while Old Myfanwy was like, *pushes paper, winces when loudly spoken to, quietly collects information re: which member of The Court is about to betray her, declines to go into the field to deal with supernatural manifestations because those things are quite scary, what* the New Myfanwy is all
and it is bad. ass. I loved both Myfanwys equally, and I loved the character development as New Myfanwy figured out her Phenomenal Cosmic Powers and Old Myfanwy revealed the extent to which you can kick ass via excellent administrative abilities. She will fact-check you into the fucking ground. I loved the Court, because I find that a lot of the time, fantastical hierarchies will make no sense and this one sort of makes no sense but it admits the ways in which it is cocked up and how it got to be that way (TRADITION, which is usually the case in both real- and invented-world hierarchies) and some instances in which it gets hilariously bunged.
And the writing is mostly Serviceable, occasionally Downright Bad and other times is Very Good Indeed. I mean, you have loose, sloppy sentences like ‘This is why the Chequy is a force that is focused and dedicated’ up against sharp and witty bits like ‘What Thurow had done was in the best traditions of the British Empire: she had simultaneously discovered a species and gone to war with it.’ It’s rare to find a book with such RANGE. But it skews more towards the good-to-excellent, so I will forgive it its occasional flagrant badness.
And, ok. A lot of urban fantasy is so lazy and it seems like all this having to dream up fantastical shit is so much WORK so fine, dammit, werewolves. And this world is populated with mutant freaks and O’Malley has to scare up a majillion different manifestations, and it is FUN. For every truly horrifying person who can lick out your memories or subsume you into a giant, fleshy cube or punch a hole through walls, there’s a guy whose entire lower half is composed of sparkly fog.
And the supernatural manifestations are things like Spartan ghosts, or a seam of sentient opal that has entombed an entire district, and IT IS A GOOD TIME IS WHAT I’M SAYING.
The entire time I was reading this I was like, NAP, INFANT. I have a book to get back to. And now I am finished it and am sad. Because the more I think about it, the better it gets (Myfanwy is clearly all up in my mind in some way).
Nine caterpillars! Despite those, like, five super-awful sentences!