Thursday, January 7, 2010

Book Review: Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon

Title: Sixty-One Nails

Author: Mike Shevdon

Pages: 528

Received from: publisher


There is a secret war raging beneath the streets of London. A dark magic will be unleashed by the Untained… unless a new hero can be found.

Neverwhere’s faster, smarter brother has arrived. The immense SIXTY-ONE NAILS follows Niall Petersen, from a suspected heart attack on the London Underground, into the hidden world of the Feyre, an uncanny place of legend that lurks just beyond the surface of everyday life. The Untainted, the darkest of the Seven Courts, have made their play for power, and unless Niall can recreate the ritual of the Sixty-One Nails, their dark dominion will enslave all of the Feyre, and all of humankind too.

Confession time: I did not want to read this book at first. I mean, yeah, the cover was awesome and the premise was interesting, but then it showed up at my doorstep and I opened it and just went blank. I don't know why. Maybe it's because the print was small, or there were a great many pages, or just because it looked really damn confusing. Either way, I put it at the bottom of my reading pile and it stayed there.



Let me take you through my experience, eh?

I pick up the book (three months after receiving it, but I digress). A blurb by a fellow named C.E. Murphy proclaims that it is the "Neverworld for the next generation"---which is fine and all, except that I found Neverworld one of Gaimens more bland novels, plus the fact that most books dubbed as the "next" anything usually end up being either completly irrelevant or a mere shadow to its predesser. And, to be honest, the first paragraphs add on to this worry. Niall came off as a slightly more proactive Richard Mayhew. Not to mention the rather cliche Everyman Discovers He Haz Poooowwwerrrrs! point which, if in the wrong hands, is just annoying.

But a line--one line--changed all this for me. This line is simple, encompasses the point of every fantasy or scifi book ever written and, damnit, if I can put it on a t-shirt, you know it's awesome:

You'll never be safe again.

My eyes quirk. My heart skips. I sit a bit straighter. I am impressed.

The most notable aspect, in my opinion, of Sixty-One Nails is the research of Fey (or Feyres). Shevdon obviously took great pains to stick to a preset mythology, unlike Gaimen who, despite his amazingness, twists these creatures into something unrecognizable. Sometimes its nice to read a book that maintains the lore your familiar with.

I love the idea of a secret war raging under London--I love books about London in general, probably stemming from my childhood wish to sound like James Bond or Alfred or something. Underground wars are a very delicate thing, I find, as too often the logic behind them makes no sense or the concept is far too complicated for any normal person to understand. But Shevdon, I think, pulled it off quite nicely without sacrificing interesting and sympathetic characters.

Its obvious Shevdon put a painstaking amount of work into the first in his series, every detail thoroughly checked and double checked. As I've said before, I love a book that is well researched.

A unique urban fantasy that steps well outside its Gaimen shadow and leaves you anxiously waiting for more. I can't wait for the sequal.

Rating: 8 out of 10--close to 9

Also: this was a rather short review. This tends to happen with me and long books. Forgive me, readers, its been a long week and I have midterms :(.


Anonymous said...

That cover rocks. I might just pick it up for that alone, despite its claim to being Neverwhere's faster brother. I'd settle for Neverwhere's second cousin twice removed.

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