Thursday, October 14, 2010

5-Minute Book Review: 61 Nails by Mike Shevdon

It's been a busy week, so between spinning in the hotel gym and showering for work, here's this week's lunch-break reading.

61 Nails, by Mike Shevdon is an urban fantasy book set in London, written from the first person perspective of Niall Petersen, a 42-year-old divorcee and successful corporate drone. The action kicks right off when he has a heart attack on his way to work, only to be revived by a mysterious woman, who then explains to him that his life has just gotten very, very weird. Niall learns he's carrying a touch of Feyre (aka Fey, Fairy, whatever) blood, which was awakened by his near-death, and is now attracting all the wrong sort of attention. The newly reborn Niall must quickly master his newfound powers and race against time to save the world from Generic Bad Stuff.

What follows is a solidly written adventure with the prerequisite creepy goth-fairy bad guys, magical helpers and dramatic dialogue. At worst, it tends to slip into genre cliches, and ends up looking, in a few spots, like a clone of the Dresden Files or Neverwhere, but generally it's a fun read with a few clever twists.

Of course, Shevdon quickly falls into the "must save the world" plot trap, which is probably meant to add some urgency to the book, but ends up making it seem a bit more generic than it should be. I think he would have done better to focus on the more unique dynamic offered by the fact that his protagonist is a forty-something guy with an ex-wife, a kid and support payments to make, rather than a more typical younger hero. A grown man protecting his family (and ex-family, that's always a complex dynamic which was only touched on in the book) creates drama enough and would probably bring the tension home better.

But, minor quibbles aside, the book is well worth a read, and hopefully signals the start of a promising career for Mr. Shevdon.

(disclosure: I got an electronic copy of this free through a promotion from my e-reader manufacturer, but it's worth the price of admission if you can find it in paperback).

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