I was hesitant to read this because I didn’t love the author’s most recently written novella, The Ballad of Black Tom, but after a few key recommendations, I decided to pick it up. And I’m glad I did. I loved the characters and enjoyed LaValle’s creepy, atmospheric, magical NYC.
The first quarter of the book or so is really chill. We meet the characters, who are awesome, and who we grow to enjoy spending time with. There’s some creepiness and nightmares lurking in the background, but for the most part things are just enjoyable, floating along. Then BOOM. Out of nowhere we get a boiling pot of water poured over our heads to wake us up. That early instance may be the most disturbing, but there’s plenty of freaky, unsettling stuff throughout the rest of the novel.
I especially enjoyed the dialogue of the characters and for the most part I liked LaValle’s prose as well. He does a good job of blending real-life horrors, conflicts, tensions and fears with the horrific monsters of fantasy and fairy tales, although I found the real-life horrors to be much more frightening and engaging.
After reading I realize there are a lot of questions left unanswered, but not in a way that seems intentional. There are also several plot holes. Maybe I need to read a second time? It’s kind of bugged me and affected my overall experience with the book. But it’s still a positive experience. Maybe eventually I’ll read it again and shed some light. 🙂