I mentioned in a couple of posts how I look at every book I read and try to learn from them to improve as a writer. I decided to share what I’ve learnt with you guys. I’m calling these posts The Alchemy Of Writing.
I fell in love with this book very quickly. The clear, strong voice grabbed me, it’s exactly the type of narrator I love, snarky, intelligent, and damn good fun. The opening was casual world-building and continued development of the voice, it was relaxed and easy to read, as though the narrator was having a conversation with me. The action continued in a similar tone and carried on with the world-building. It was all so easy to slip into the world and to relax with the character, getting to know him and his surroundings without any effort or obvious work. It was an absolute delight to read.
The real thing that I took from this opening was how beautifully everything flowed. There was quite a lot of world-building in there, but it was so elegantly done, so casual, that it was enjoyable to read. That was achieved by the strong, clear character voice. It wasn’t lecturing me, there was no condescension or boredom, it was a fun, cool guy, talking to me about his life. It was very much like hanging out in a coffee shop, relaxing and easy.
The action did come reasonably quickly, which was great as it gave me further insight into the character, and the world, while adding some tension and giving me an idea of larger stakes and antagonist. It was beautifully balanced, the author gave me just enough time to settle in before he gave me that action and posed the larger questions. Openings are difficult, balancing the action, the hook, and the introduction isn’t easy, but this one highlighted how important the character voice is.
The real takeaway for me from this book was just how important the character/narrator voice is. This one remained strong and enjoyable throughout the book. The book itself is quite dense, there’s a lot of description and world-building, it’s very different from the type of urban fantasy that I’m currently seeing in the bestseller lists. At no point did that description and all feel boring or heavy though, thanks to the very light interesting voice. Each piece was carefully chosen to fit the character’s voice and add something to the experience, it was beautifully done.
Structurally speaking this is about what I expect from the genre, with the twists, turns, action, and steamy bits about where they’re normally found. The real lesson was the voice, and how you can have a much denser narrative, with more description than is the current norm, if you have a good enough voice to pull it off.
If you’re looking for a fun, engaging, and very well-constructed urban fantasy then I definitely recommend this book and look forward to reading more in this series.