Savannah's Reviews > Mean Streets

Mean Streets by Jim Butcher
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's review
Jan 05, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, mystery, fiction, librarybook, noire
Read from January 07 to 10, 2012

** spoiler alert ** It's sometimes hard to know what to do with a novella, which isn't enough to stand alone but can muscle the other content aside in a short story collection. And these are especially difficult, since they really require--or are at least enhanced by--some knowledge of the rest of each character/author universe. So pulling four of them that fit acceptably into urban noire supernatural works fairly well.

The Butcher I've somehow read elsewhere, but it's a nice little story that shows off how prettily the author can work sentiment into what the protagonist always sees as a long-running life of one disaster after the next. There's Christian religion in it, but treated in a non-sappy, part-of-a-larger-supernatural-realm way that shouldn't put off those who don't care for religious works.

The Green is a hoot of a whole fantasy world. While the denouement is sexual, it's more conceptual than explicit and certainly doesn't really involve body parts. Still, some parents may be squeamish about this for younger teens who might otherwise enjoy the bravado of the characters and the creativity of the worldbuilding.

Richardson's is my favorite of the four, a richly-textured cultural exploration of Mexican Day of the Dead practices with a light mystery as excuse. It's mostly culture; the plot wraps only at the very end. Who cares? The characterization is detailed, both living and dead. While some knowledge of this protagonist's world might add familiarity, it's really not necessary to enjoy the story.

The Sniegoski is my least favorite. I don't know if there is a broader body of work this is part of or whether he only throws in the "couple weeks ago" previous interaction of the characters as a device, but if the latter, it's a bit heavy-handed and makes me feel as though I'm missing something important. It's an angel story and as such, a bit more religious than a non-Christian might like: the whole of it takes place in a biblical framework, even though it extends upon that with the specific characters and fantasy--what would happen if Noah suffered regrets over species that were lost, by direction, in the great flood?--elements. There are some good moments, but overall, least well-developed feeling and most religious in tone.

This goes in the adult collection, although older teens who like urban fantasy probably won't find the sexual tone of the one story disturbing.

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