Or why you should read The Shambling Guide to NYC
by Mur Lafferty
I think one of the hardest things in the world is to write a properly good light, fun book. When done well, these books are the anti-grimdark; the perfect bright, sweet treat that I think every reading habit needs for variety and the occasional soul medicine. The thing is, finding the perfect mix of humour, character, melodrama, and genuine plot stakes needed to make a novel simultaneously fluffy fun and engrossing is razor alchemy. For me there are maybe only a handful of novels that have ever really managed that kind of magic. The Shambling Guid to NYC is one of these precious few.
In The Shambling Guide to NYC, Zoe Norris, a recently unemployed travel writer, has moved back to New York City. The trouble is that to stay there, Zoe needs a job and it seems out of work travel writers are not in demand. So you might say Zoe is down on her luck. That is until she stumbles across a job posting in a bookstore that refuses to sell to her kind of person; a job writing travel books for coterie (I'd say monsters, but that's pejorative). Not willing to pass up an opportunity or a challenge, Zoe finds herself working for a Vampire publisher with zombies, an incubus, water nymph, and even a death goddess for coworkers. Zoe must now figure out how to navigate the dangerous, strange world of the unseen supernatural amongst us and put out a top notch Travel Book. Or at least avoid being eaten.
The Shambling Guide to NYC is a novel that is, more than anything, deeply charming. The book is well written, filled with rich characters, and genuinely funny, but more than all of that, it is just super charismatic. Which is, I think, what happens when an author pulls off the feat of sorcery to make light, fun book work perfectly; The Shambling Guide is thoroughly entertaining and just like, a novel length grin in prose form. The experience of reading this book made me happier which made the book difficult to put down. I am so glad I tried this book!
And honestly, the premise of The Shambling Guide is not something I would typically have tried, but some enthusiastic endorsements from writers I like and a cover by the fantastic Jamie McKelvie (whose artwork is generally a stamp of quality) convinced me to give it a look. Even if The Shambling Guide to NYC is not in your typical reading roundhouse, you might want to give it a chance anyway; you may be pleasantly surprised.
I would recommend this book to any geek-positive readers out there. It is fun, geeky, and utterly, utterly charming. If you want to read something that will entertain you in a pleasant, but still substantial way, The Shambling Guide to NYC is just about the ideal novel.