[Book Review] Snake Agent – best book ever.

Once every blue reading moon there comes a book that renews my faith in a genre. Snake Agent by Liz Williams is that book.

“Detective Inspector Chen is the Singapore Three police department’s snake agent – the detective in charge of supernatural and mystical investigations. Chen has several problems: in addition to colleagues who don’t trust him and his mystical ways, a patron goddess whom he has offended and a demonic wife who’s tired of staying home alone, he’s been paired with one of Hell’s own vice officers, Seneschal Zhu Irzh, to investigate the illegal trade in souls.

Political pressures both Earthly and otherworldly seek to block their investigations at every turn. As a plot involving both Singapore Three’s industrial elite and Hell’s own Ministry of Epidemics is revealed, it becomes apparent that the stakes are higher than anyone had previously suspected.”

– description from Goodreads

Gorgeous cover.

Isn’t the old cover gorgeous?

Oh man. Where do I start? I’m gonna try to write a coherent review, but this all would be so much easier if I could just fill the page with heart gifs and exclamation marks. Continue reading

[Advance Book Review] She’s a guardian, warrior, and…librarian.

Advance Book Review: Worldsoul by Liz Williams

Publication Date: June 06, 2012

The city of Worldsoul is on a nexus point between different dimensions, a place where old stories gather and legends come to die—or to  rise again. And Mercy Fane has one of the most dangerous jobs in her world. She’s a Librarian, guardian of one the largest accumulation of human knowledge and myth.  But despite the Librarians’ best efforts, stories are breaking out of ancient texts and escaping into the city.

“She thought of the thing she had seen; the thing that, mentally, she had started calling “the female.” Part of a story from so long ago that any humanity had surely been leached from her, if indeed she had ever possessed any. Something forgotten, that rages, like so many forgotten thing. Something that wanted to be known.

And something that, now, would be.”

Liz Williams, Worldsoul, pp.35

The range of the stories and cultures that intersect in Worldsoul was delightful in its ambitiousness; a Duke of Hell is tracking down a stolen item, an alchemist is being compelled to do something that goes against her Islam faith, and Perry, an Egyptian spirit, shares one of her nine lives. The imprisoned Norse god Loki stirs and the Abbot General plots to take over the city. And Mercy Fane finds herself in the middle of this–and in the middle of a battle for the Library, the soul of the city.

In creating her vivid and fast-paced world, Williams steers her story around the pitfall of many book-related novels. There are no long, self-indulgent monologues about the wonder of reader or the power of literature.

Instead, Williams’ appreciation for culture and myths permeates the action itself, as organic as if it couldn’t be any other way. This is fantasy at its best, with witty dialogue, political plots, magic spells, and plenty of action and adventure. Oh, and a wonderful writing style.

Worldsoul picks you up and throws you in the deep end from page one. There are no long passages of world-building, no appendices of the hierarchy of hell or types of djinn, and no catch-up sequences badly disguised as character dialogue. Readers dive into the story as it’s happening, and any catching up is done on their own time (yes! an author after my own heart). Williams crafts a vivid world of spinning parts and trusts you to hold on for the ride.

For me, the experience was like getting a pass to my favorite thrill ride–and then on a trip to an ice-cream store. (Of course, mileage may vary for the more cautious reader.)

This is a book that will appeal to fans of both traditional and urban fantasy genres. More than that, it sets up an incredible premise…and then delivers on it.

Complimentary copy of the book courtesy of the publisher.

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