Waste of paper. No, that’s not right. That’s offensive to the artists as the illustrations were brilliant, but there may as well have been no words. Seriously. Very little happens. At least very little that makes sense or contributes to plot progression. Only the last few pages have any real meaning with a humdinger of a cliffhanger that leaves you with multiple questions and countless theories.
This is not The Hunger Games. I feel that distinction has to be made early on because I was very close to dismissing The Stars Never Rise as such and putting it down because the beginning is the same, albeit more brutally realistic. A neglectful mother who is rarely seen or heard, a big sister who has to do everything she can to put food on the table and clothes on their backs while also taking care of her younger sister. The Hunger Games was “just” a dystopia, this is also urban fantasy. Demons are walking the streets wearing humans like clothes while quietly consuming their souls.
What kind of teenager are you that you don’t have Class A drugs to hand? Hmm? Has The Daily Mail been lying to me?
Every 90 years twelve gods from multiple pantheons are reincarnated in young people to live for two years. The gods reincarnated are different each time and don’t necessarily live out the full two years, as the opening pages can attest with only four gods left at the end of the last cycle in 1923, skulls perched in the empty seats. Ananke is their guardian, goddess of fate, necessity and destiny. She’s their protector, but also their judge, jury and, if necessary, their executioner.
Urban fantasy is a broad church. To some, it’s the genre of “Wizard of the Pigeons” and “War for the Oaks“; to others, it means Sam Vimes patrolling the streets of Ankh Morpork, or Locke Lamora conning his way through Camorr. Most recently, it has become synonymous with werewolves, vampires and hot detectives. What holds together the urban fantastic? Are different strands of the genre in conversation with each other? And how important is the influence of the stuctures and tone of other genres like crime fiction?
I hate selkie stories. They’re always about how you went up to the attic to look for a book, and you found a disgusting old coat and brought it downstairs between finger and thumb and said “What’s this?”, and you never saw your mom again.
If you know of selkie mythology, you’ll understand this opening quote, and if you don’t it’s explained within this short story (which can be read for free HERE).
Apart from deus ex machina (so it’s 4½ ★), this was a brilliant read. Killing off a much-loved character is a brave thing to do and in this instance it was beautiful sacrifice worthy of that character, if heartbreaking and gory.
The level of grace displayed by Kate in both her physical battles and in her position as alpha, fighting for the people that depend on her and those she deeply cares for, is inspiring. And as always, Ilona and Gordon always bring the funny.