Feliz's Reviews > The Darkling Thrush

The Darkling Thrush by Josh Lanyon
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May 24, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: fantasy, contemporary, m-m, cops-detectives-lawmen
Read in April, 2010

What if there was magic in our world today? What if it was as normal to be a witch, or clearsighted, as it is for us to be good at sports or a musician? This is what Josh Lanyoon must have thought when he created an AU world with telephones, aircraft, and automobiles where "the Americas" are officially still called "The colonies", where people spend their lives transcripting books by hand or hunting famous lost grimoires, where there is a secret police in charge of suppressing or destroying books that are too dangerous to come to the world of man, where the mechanical printing press was invented by a Scotsman in 1414, where a goblin can be a well known - doctor and where members of the Seelie Court with blue skin and red eyes walk the streets in daylight?
This is the world of Colin Bliss, a book hunter on an exchange program from Boston, currently living in London and working for a government agency which control and collect magical books and magic in general, or Magick, as it is called here. Recovering from the breakup between him and his superior, Anthony, Colin feels neutralized riding a desk instead of working as a book hunter as he used to. He gets to hear he's too young, too inexperienced and, in addition to that, being a Colonial not at all fit to go on "real book hunts" in the old world from everybody, including mysterious Septimus Marx, who seems to pop up everywhere Colin happens to go. Bored and annoyed, Colin jumps in with both feet when a slightly obscure private book collector asks him to go hunting for a famous grimoire which has been missing for six centuries. When he learns the hunt can not only cause peril to his own life, but to manhood in general, Colin tries to step back from the search. But it's too late. He can't escape his fate anymore. Nor can he escape Septimus Marx.

I loved all those little details of Lanyon's brilliant worldbuilding. The tongue - in cheek references to legends and lore, the casualness the characters move inside a reality which is so outlandish to us, it's all masterfully and so typical Lanyon. (one example: Colin talks to the goblin who falls asleep in the middle of the talk. When he returns a day later and is disappointed the goblin still sleeps, the goblin's housemaid tells him "She's a goblin she could sleep for a day or a month," and Colin just nods ruefully as if he should have known better than to ask.) The mystery, the quest, is thrilling and fascinating, and the ending is surprising and worth the journey.
The relationship between Septimus and Colin builds unusually fast for a work of Lanyon's, and there's remarkably little explanation of the why of it. It feels almost like insta - love. Their connection is supposed to run deep, but I couldn't feel their emotions. That's what bothered me lately with several of Lanyon's newer works, the lack of emotion between the heroes.
But then again, the book read like the first in a series. Maybe Septimus and Colin will get closer over time. There are many other odds and loose ends which call to be linked together. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel to this one.
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