Sunday, September 15, 2013

All is Fair by Emma Newman

Review based on ARC.

I received this review from NetGalley dot com; thanks to Angry Robot Ltd for the opportunity to read and review this book!

I requested this book because the cover is engaging and reminded me of another book I wanted to read, though I couldn't quite place what it was.  It soon became apparent -- I have the first book in this series on my bookshelf.  Nevertheless, with early reviewers, time is limited, so I read the third without having read the first (or the second).

Fortunately, it is an interesting enough book, with a background that is not overly complicated, so I was able to read this third without ever really feeling lost in the plot.   True, I did not know who Max or his Gargoyle already were; true, I did not know who Cathy was or how William got to his place of power by trickery; true, I did not know who had already died or how, but the information was presented to me, a new reader of the series, without an overly simplistic "here's what's already happened" backdrop or an overly complicated or presumptuous inside-references.

Instead, it was as though I were dropped into the middle of a mystery, and through conversation and memory, was able to piece the rest together.  Each of the stories were interesting and, rather than leave me with the sense that I'd already gleaned all from the series that I needed to by reading the third book, it made me want to go back and read the first two, to get that more in depth experience of the events that I now undertand have already occurred.   In other words, well done!  I liked this third enough to want to read more Newman -- whether something already published, or something yet to be published.

A quick synopsis:
This story takes place in the Nether (a faerie-run world otherwise like ours) and in Mundanus (it's like muggles... the non-magic people or people not in the nether live in the "mundane" world -- i.e., mundanus).  William has taken the throne of Londinium (the Nether-London), which makes Cathy the Duchess.  What we gleaned from the prior books is that William seems to be a pretty good guy, but controlled by a pretty evil faerie, and that Cathy is a headstrong girl who wants to change the corruption and evil in the Nether.  Cathy was attacked in book 2 (presumably), and William is told it is one household who has done so.  William therefore wins the seat of Duke in a duel that he wins by murdering someone who had previously  believed to be his friend.  Cathy attempts to feel nothing romantic toward William, her husband, at the beginning of the book, but begins to realize as the book progresses that she needs his support to accomplish what she wants to accomplish.

Max the arbiter and his gargoyle (where his soul is housed) continue to investigate who or what is behind the murder of a series of wizards and the corruption in London.  Max and the gargoyle work with Cathy, who is an insider now given her new position as Duchess to attempt to discover the truth.

Cathy's friend Sam, from Mundanus, has lost his wife and finds himself in the care of Lord Iron, which unsurprisingly puts Sam in the position of accepting an offer from Lord Iron which ends up being more than Sam himself anticipated.

With a quick plot, interesting characters, and an element of mystery, Newman brings the reader fully into her tale, and eager to find out, "what next!"

Recommended for readers looking for a quick urban fantasy read with dark intentions, a touch of insanity, and a subtle love story.  FOUR of five stars.

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