BookMusings: (Re)Discovering Pagan Literature

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Book Review: Shrill Dusk



Title: Shrill Dusk (City of Magic Book One)

Publisher/Author: Helen Harper

Pages: 254pp

Price: $10.99/$3.99

The apocalypse has come. Well, okay, it's not a total apocalypse. Bad faeries want to destroy the world, good faeries want to save it, and their final confrontation flattens a good portion of Manchester. It also leaves the city so contaminated by magic that the mortal residents are forced to evacuate. Well, almost all of them. A few people decide to stick it out. Like Charley, a one-time cleaner who has suddenly developed ridiculous magical abilities. And her Australian roommate Lizzie, who can now transform into a bunyip. Not to mention the magic-starved werewolves and vampires who are running towards Manchester. And then there's the crime lord who has seized the opportunity to create his own personal fiefdom, and he isn't going to let anyone stand in his way ... not even Charley ....

I adored Harper's series, The Lazy Girl's Guide to Magic, so I was very happy to see Shrill Dusk pop up on netgalley. While technically a sequel to her Fractured Faery series, it is not necessary to have read that series to understand what is going on in Shrill Dusk (I didn't, and I followed along just fine).

Shrill Dusk is a heck of a lot of fun. The characters' reactions to having their entire understanding of the world turned upside down were realistic, ranging from terrified to confused to thrilled. The post-magic changes to Manchester were also interesting to see: monstrous trees, strange creatures, and the battle over dwindling supplies, to name just a few.

Charley is a great character: a skilled gambler, she has a head full of random facts and is excellent at reading people and situations. She is also traumatized by the death of her baby brother in a house fire that she blames herself for starting; she couldn't save him, so she keeps trying to save everyone else. When the apocalypse hits and the government cuts Manchester off from the rest of the world, Charley is determined to build a self-sustaining community where everyone is welcome and people support one another.

Others are not so certain. Monroe, for example, is an alpha who lost his entire werewolf pack during the short but devastating faerie war. For him, it's survival of the fittest. He is convinced that Charley is going to get herself killed if she keeps taking in every stray she comes across. And then there's Max the crime lord: a greedy, smarmy sociopath who sees only opportunity in the chaos. Charley knows better than anyone that he is not to be under-estimated.

Shrill Dusk has it all: an intelligent and compassionate heroine, a tough but vulnerable love interest, best friends standing strong, magic, monsters, and a villain in need of a good comeuppance. Highly recommended to fans of urban fantasy, as well as fans of Ilona Andrews, Annie Bellet, T. Thorn Coyle, Jolene Dawe, and Lisa Shearin. 

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Rebecca Buchanan is the editor of the Pagan literary ezine Eternal Haunted Summer. She is also the editor-in-chief of Bibliotheca Alexandrina. She thinks it is incredibly unfair that she must work for a living rather than being able to read all day. In her next life, she would like to be a library cat.


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