Series: The Shambling Guides #1
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Published by Orbit Books on 28 May 2013
Reading Challenges: 2013 Bachelorette Challenge
The Shambling Guide to New York City is a great debut novel from Mur Lafferty. Zoe has moved back to New York City trying to put a disastrous relationship behind her. She winds up working for a supernatural publisher writing a guide book to the Big Apple for monsters coterie (they find the term ‘monsters’ offensive). I’ve worked at jobs where management tries to suck you dry but for Zoe, this could literally happen as her boss is a vampire. There is something wrong in the state of New York and Zoe has to be on her toes in order to find out what is upsetting the balance between humans and coterie, and meet her publishing deadlines.
Zoe is a fairly appealing character who can be dogmatic, caring, sassy and surprisingly resilient. She does her best to adjust to this new world even though certain things creep her out. Humans are definitely the underdogs and Zoe has to put up with quite a bit of discrimination based on her species. She has one fatal flaw however and that is men. Unfortunately too much of the novel revolves around the men in her life – her ex who just happened to be her boss and forgot to tell her he was married, Arthur the hot neighbour who is a kind of coterie slayer, a construct (who has the head of her ex-boyfriend) and the incubus who just wants to have sex with her. She quickly makes friends with Granny Good Mae, a homeless coterie assassin who teaches her how to fight and Morgan the water sprite who helps her manage inter-office politics. The female characters tend to be far more kick-ass and willing to take action while the men are weaker.
The world was richly imagined and I particularly liked the extra little details slipped in about the coterie and the places they liked to hang out. The sheer variety of coterie surprised me as authors often stick to a couple at a time. The novel is very well paced and action packed. The humour literally drips off every page and the style reminds me of Douglas Adams’ Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and the satirical Jetlag Travel Guide series which includes Molvania, Phaic Tan and San Sombrero. I found the short guide entries at the end of the chapter took me away from the action so I ignored them until I had finished the book. After I had time to digest what had happened, I went back and enjoyed reading them.
This is a light and fun urban fantasy read. I heartily recommend you shamble down to your local bookshop and grab a copy or buy one online.