About 2 years ago I got a Kindle at the same time I changed my job, also giving up a company car, the result was a lot more reading time on the commute, this combination changed not just how but also what I read.
Growing up my reading was influenced by two very distinct trends – feminism and romance, my Nan was a HUGE Georgette Heyer fan (with Barbara Cartland overtones) and from the age of 12 I devoured these books at every opportunity. At 16 I discovered Simone De Beauvoir (in between I flirted with Arthurian legend). Since my teens I haven’t really read any romance novels, I love rom coms though, but extra time to read changed that. There are some amazing authours out there writing romance but there are also heaps of them who write predictable formulaic cynical fauxmance and sadly I read quite a spate of these and was totally ready to throw my towel in. Salvation came (temporarily) in the guise of m/m romance then once again I was disillusion by some really truly poor writing, lazy plots and one dimensional characters not to mention that there are just so many times that the you can read about a fluttering passage .
Stick with me ..
Post Christmas and with a couple of serious academic reads under my belt I decided to get back on the romance pony one final time, and picked up Glitterland by Alexis Hall. I fell in love with his style of writing and immediately descended onto his blog, devoured several posts and via Goodreads emailed him declaring undying literary love. Luckily he ignored all the piffle waffle and was very sweet. He could rewrite my shopping list and I would read it obessivley, and he is a John Grant fan as well.
There is a danger in finding an author that you connect with that the next book you read will be a disappointment so with some trepidation I started AJH’s next book Iron + Velvet.
One of my favourite books is the Thin Man, and still have my battered copy inscribed with my name (pre- marriage); Iron + Velvet involves a female paranormal PI so I was rather predisposed to like it.
Set in a modern day parallel London where posh Werewolves, Vampire bankers and social working mages live side by side; our hero Kate Kane,a whisky drinking, kick arse lesbian becomes embroiled in the murder of a were wolf outside a night club run by one of the Vampire princes. There is a whole other world build going on, and I admit to the use of a notebook to keep track of characters initially, but got to grips with it pretty easily.
There are a lot of characters and with the exception of Kate and Julian (nightclub owning vampire Prince) there wasn’t a great of fleshing however for me this added to noiryiness of it, nothing worse than having to trawl through pages of blah to learn about characters you’re not sure you even care about. Plus as part of a series you want a bit of organic development.
Kate is really believable hero, I loved her asides and one liners ‘Hell, I’ve been a couple of times. Its not great’ and when in tough situations her ongoing epitaph ‘here lies the body of Kate Kane..’ made me laugh. While it definatley has its roots in noir there are funny times as well. The best dialogue comes from Julian,which given that she’s 800 years old, is fitting.
There is a creepy obsessive ex, a rat gestalt and killer zombie nuns as well plus of course brilliant use of language, including middle English. There is also a smidgen of sex. It’s the language that gets me every time though, how can you not love a book that describes magic as being ‘woven with the currents of the city like a stone shifting the ripples of a stream’ ?
I have been listening to Pale Green Ghosts a lot, and this song (totally non contextual) reminds me of I+V.
And in homage my favourite secondary character Kauri Kalili aka Miss Parma Violet boylesque performer , a beautifully camp song which I love