Jo Fletcher Books, out now
Meet Verity Fassbinder – troubleshooter extraordinaire, looking after all things weird and Weyrd in Brisbane…
The first in what I hope will be a long series of stories from Angela Slatter featuring Verity Fassbinder is a beautifully written urban fantasy that plays with a number of the tropes of the genre, periodically confounding expectations and evoking a clear sense of place. This may not be Brisbane as it really is, but it certainly is as it feels it should be, a mix of old and new, Normal and Weyrd. It’s a place where seers are also bakers, and all some supernatural creatures want is a Corona beer and a ham and cheese sandwich…
It’s that combination of the mundane and the wonderful that makes the book work really well, drawing the reader in and weaving its spell around you. Verity has to juggle a number of different investigations, as well as try to have some form of normal life, and we see her struggles through her own eyes. Her own heritage gives her a certain advantage physically but because she is part-Weyrd, part-Normal, she’s mistrusted by both sides as much as she can walk between them trying to keep some form of peace. Slatter doesn’t present the supernatural as some form of homogenous group that are implacably opposed to mortals – there’s a degree of symbiosis there, and the differing groups within the Weyrd community have their own arguments. If you’ve missed Kelley Armstrong’s Otherworld stories, then definitely give this a try: there’s much here that reminds me of the early books in that series.
Vigil is as much a private detective tale set against an unusual backdrop as it is a fantasy, and Slatter plays fair with the reader, providing the evidence that Verity sees, and usually giving the context that she would have for it. It’s a story about choices and the relative merits of change – whether it’s change that you can do nothing about, or the sort that you can push in a certain direction.
Verdict: A terrific new series of urban fantasy tales kicks off stylishly. 9/10