New Review: Vigil (2016)

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Angela Slatter

Hachette Australia (July 2016)

ISBN: 9781784294021

Half-breed “Weryd” Verity Fassbinder has the unenviable task of ensuring the human world and the Weyrd in Brisbane don’t trouble each other. It’s not easy and has already almost got her killed, despite her unusual strength. So when sirens start dying and children disappearing (again), alarm bells ring and Verity is on the job to try to solve the mysteries before more people die, especially those closest to her.

Building on Slatter’s story “Brisneyland by Night”, first published in the Twelfth Planet Press anthology SprawlVigil expands Verity’s life and crime-solving journey far beyond that short (somewhat incorporated) piece into a rich and dark world that hides in the shadows of the almost-real. With several seemingly unconnected cases on her hands, Verity bounces from one mystery to another, often slightly behind the eight ball but trying desperately to prevent disaster, while at the same time managing to get involved in a relationship with a wonderful and entirely normal man. There’s a lot going on in this book, and at times it gets a little confusing, particularly in the first half of the novel (my one complaint), but there’s a good payoff for the reader in the end and it’s worth the tangled character web Slatter weaves.

It’s been a while since I’ve read much urban fantasy, but I very much enjoyed the Brisbane setting and seedy surreal nightside of the city. It made me laugh out loud when Slatter name-checked Nancy Napoleon (the lead character of fellow Aussie Tansy Rayner Roberts’ novella Siren Beat) and now in my head, the world of Verity is of a certainty the same one that Nancy inhabits, along with Peter M Ball’s Miriam Aster (from Horn), Steven de Selby from Trent Jamieson’s Death Works books (also set in Brisbane), probably with Dirk Flinthart’s Night Beast and Keri Arthur’s Riley Jenson characters… Look, it’s MY head canon and I’m going to stick with it!

Vigil is the first in a contracted trilogy, and I’m on board for this ride. Slatter has proven herself in the short form (and in extended interconnected worldbuilding with several excellent linked story collections), and I trust that the seeds sown in Vigil will bear fruit in the books to come. Recommended for readers who loved the Australian urban fantasy books mentioned in the previous paragraph, as well as work by Patricia Briggs and Seanan McGuire – the strong characters, detailed world building and action-packed story will not disappoint.

 

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