Chris's Reviews > Something from the Nightside

Something from the Nightside by Simon R. Green
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Feb 09, 08

bookshelves: fantasy
Read in June, 2006

I've always enjoyed Simon R. Green's work. Shadows Fall is still one of my favorite books ever - and it's a damn shame it's out of print - Blue Moon Rising was fantastic, as were the Hawk & Fisher stories. He's one of those few authors I can really count on, so when I found myself at a complete loss in Flights of Fantasy bookstore and my friend told me that Green had a new series out, I snapped up the first two books. I would have taken them all, but there were possible issues with luggage. Damn airlines and their pesky weight limits.... As it turned out, I was a good ten pounds under the 50 pound limit, too. Damn finite space inside the suitcase....

Anyway, Simon hasn't let me down. Something from the Nightside introduces his new series, set in London. Or, rather, set in London's black and vibrant heart. You see, there's a flip side to the city. Sort of. It's not like Neil Gaiman's London Below, where the two Londons share the same physical space. Nightside kind of... connects to London. Its actual size is vastly larger that the city we all know, and the Nightside is much more interesting.

I could tell from the first lines of this book that Green was fulfilling an old desire - to write Chandler-esque detective noir. Only with magic and monsters and things that go "Oh God, oh God, please, no!" in the night.

John Taylor left the Nightside five years ago, just ahead of his own reputation, and swore never to return. He set up shop as a detective in London, barely scraping by, but at least sure that faceless horrors from beyond the shadows weren't trying to kill him. He was a good detective, but he had a talent that made him better. Back in the Nightside, he can find anything. That's his power, and a mighty power it is, too. It's so mighty, I'm not even sure Simon Green knows exactly how mighty it is. Needless to say, he's become an almost legendary figure in the Nightside, partly because of his Gift, but also because of the constant knack he has for getting into - and out of - trouble.

He was sure he was out of the Nightside, too, until a case came along that he couldn't resist: a rich mother, looking for her daughter, certain that her daughter had gone into the Nightside. Taylor breaks his promise, knowing that there are terrible things waiting for a young girl, in the Nightside. There are terrible things waiting for most people, in the Nightside. But he knows that his destiny can only be found there, in the Nightside....

Are you noticing a pattern there? Yeah, so did I. The tag, "...in the Nightside" got used waaaaaaay too much in this book, as a way to make the place sound more dangerous. Taylor has an irritating habit of hinting at things, but never explaining them. He reminded me of those people I know who feel that, no matter what you say about any topic, they have to imply that they know just a little more than you, but never reveal what that knowledge actually is. In the context of the story, where Taylor is leading his client from the mundane London to the hyper-real Nightside, that's understandable. But instead of sounding mysterious, he just sounds kind of irritating. He also makes long speeches that I can't quite suspend my disbelief over. Specific example: Walker's introduction in chapter eight is a full three-page monologue by Taylor about how sneaky and dirty Walker is. While I don't doubt that Walker, a man who works for the mysterious Authorities of Nightside, is all the things that Taylor says he is, I think it would have been better for Green to use far fewer words, and just let us see for ourselves through Walker's actions in the story.

But, then, Green is a published and respected author, and I haven't written a lick of fiction in.... um.... er.... *sigh*

Anyway, the repetition of "in the Nightside" got irritating after a while.

"There's worse things waiting, in the Nightside...."

"Things aren't what they seem, in the Nightside...."

I was starting to think about it like that thing where you add, "...in bed" to the end of a fortune cookie fortune.

"Gonna be a long night, gonna be all right, in the Nightside...."

"They say the neon lights are bright, in the Nightside...."

"My cat's breath smells like cat food, in the Nightside...."

Anyway, it really is a fun read. I'm on the second book now, and it looks like I'll be hitting up Amazon.jp for the rest....
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