City of Wolves - Willow Palecek

A very okay piece of quick fiction, it felt like a beginners effort if I were being completely honest. I wasn't entirely hooked into any part of the story, but pushed to finish it because it was only 96 pages, so why not?

Whatever this was trying to be, whether steampunk, or noir, or some hybrid of gaslight paranormal slash urban fantasy, I'm not sure, but it didn't work. It lacked all the pop on the page that any of those categories require - in short, it was shallow. One might argue that it's intent was to be quick and perfunctory, it is a novella after all, but length is hardly an excuse a lifeless execution.

Here's my biggest gripe. The author forgot that magic has a price, whether that price is paid by performing it or by having knowledge of it, treating it flippantly destroys any wonder for the reader.

Along those lines, even the title is a little careless...the only punchline to the book is given away by those three words. How anti-climatic is that, to get through all 96 pages to find out the the city is full of wolves. You don't say?

The protagonist himself, Alexander Drake, starts as a drunken fellow who might have something interesting up his sleeve - he's private drunk detective who is seemingly broke and perhaps disreputable? A little cliche but perfectly ripe for a nice backstory. Unfortunately, all personal characterization is tossed aside in the name of pacing, or at least, that's what it felt like.

I picked this up on my Overdrive account and it was such a quick read that I can't fault anyone for trying it. As a short mystery, it does work even with its problems - a puzzle was solved. I would give this author another shot down the road if anything else was published. There was a spark here that could catch light if allowed some greater fuel...but in this case maybe the paper was a little damp or something.

View all my reviews