I just read the debut novel from Harry Connolly, Child of Fire. It’s urban fantasy/horror with a crime fiction feel: if you’ve ever read a book where a couple of investigators roll into a small town and clean up some corruption for their own reasons, you know the approach. There’s an excerpt available.
I’ll give it a solid B. The plot gets a bit complex in the middle; I think I counted at least four distinct factions in the town, which is sort of a lot. The writing’s good, the protagonists are reasonably interesting, and the world’s good. You can tell it’s designed as a series, with lots of back references to origin stories. There are rules about how magic works.
I like the idea of a secret society — the Twenty Palaces — which ruthlessly eradicates magic. I like the source of magic. Connolly writes good creepy modern monsters. I read someone calling him Lovecraftian, but that’s wrong: he’s mining the same post-modern horror vein as Esoterrorists. The scene where he confronts the source of the town’s problems is pretty darned good.
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