Hey, y’all! I said I was done with SPFBO 8, but I was wrong!
It is extremely unfortunate that I have to do this, but I am hosting Booknest’s reviews for the foreseeable future in regard to SPFBO. Their site was hacked and has not yet been reinstated, so in the meantime, they will have placeholders here 😀
This review was by Andrew McVittie!
Mysterious Ways by Abbie Evans
Despite her rank within the City Watch and the social position it provides, Commander Isabella Varselak can’t ignore the doubts and questions that continue to plague her about her role. Finally driven to extreme measures, she sets off to find some hope of answers, no matter how far she has to go.
Mysterious Ways takes place in what feels like a medieval(ish) world, one that is in many ways a flipped version of our own. In Solistopia, women are the dominant half of society, occupying positions of power, while men are seen as being too emotional and aggressive to be given such responsibility. It’s a little heavy handed but the same could easily be said of the way the reverse situation has been handled in the real world. In a similar vein, homosexual relationships are also a lot more prevalent, if not the norm, but less attention is drawn to that aspect of the world. By far the most plot centric element is that both angels and demons commonly interact with humans and the world at large.
The way the angels and demons are portrayed was perhaps my favourite part of the novel. Rather than the stern or vengeful beings angels have sometimes been depicted as, the angels here are caring healers and more given to pleasures of the flesh. By comparison, demons forego any sort of sensation, good or bad, apparently using apathy as a defense mechanism against the ruler.
Between the time spent in the demon realm and the setup for the next installment, there was plenty in Mysterious Ways that I found intriguing. Unfortunately, that was not quite enough to overcome the fact that I didn’t fully connect with the characters. I liked Cerys the most, a professional thief and self-proclaimed master of disguise, always looking for a new challenge for her abilities which is part of what draws her into Isabella’s quest. But I remained uninvested in the majority, which did rob the novel of some of it’s impetus.
There is enough to enjoy, I just don’t know if I will follow up with the next installment.
6 out of 10 cheese wedges.