Corpselight by Angela Slatter

Review by Kylie Thompson

Rating: 5 stars

Genre: Supernatural, urban fantasy, crime

Publisher: Hachette/ Jo Fletcher Books

 

It’s hard to kick ass and take names when you’re very, very pregnant, but Verity Fassbinder is doing her best. Verity, caught between the Normal- human- world and the Weyrd world of her father’s heritage, has had a bit too much adventure lately. After stopping a psychotic supernatural being from destroying her home town, she’d hoped that things would calm down.

Things never calm down in Brisneyland.

It’s meant to be a simple job- the sort of simple that even a heavily pregnant trouble-magnet shouldn’t be able to screw up: figure out why a Normal lawyer is claiming a supernatural benefit in her insurance policy, and stop whatever’s causing a monthly mud-bath for Susan Beckett’s very expensive furniture.

Though you’d think the smell of mud and waste would be more than reason enough to ask for help, Beckett refuses. At least, until a rash of on-dry-land drownings.

Verity had expected a lot of boredom and staking out of a fancy house. Maybe a few interviews. People drowning nowhere near water, and kitsune assassins in Chinatown? Not so much. Her ‘easy case’ might just be her last.

In ‘Vigil’ we were introduced to the best kind of heroine: Verity Fassbinder is the sort of ball-kicking snark machine it’s impossible not to love.  She’s strong, she’s flawed, and she’ll take readers on a hell of a ride before this series is done. ‘Corpselight’ is a triumphant return to the world of Weyrd Brisbane, where everything and nothing have changed for the conquering heroine.

Angela Slatter has created a seamless and complex alternate Brisbane; the sort of setting it’s impossible not to blur with reality. If you’re a fan of seeing the world differently, and squinting to see supernatural beings in gloomy alleyways, you’re going to love this series. There’s a touch of Neil Gaiman’s magic here, an ability to retell the everyday in a way brimming with magic and darkened whimsy, with the sort of storytelling that leaves traces well after you’ve read ‘the end’.

Did I mention it’s really hard not to love ‘Corpselight’?

Oftentimes, the problem with pregnant characters in action/adventure genres is that it can feel like the baby is being held to ransom by the author, existing only to up the tension and sympathy. Here, though, it simply feels like a natural progression of Verity’s story. There’s an honesty to her role as mother here, too, that works beautifully with the character: if you think Verity is about to turn all Earth Mother, you’re in for a shock. She might be baffled by a breast pump, but Verity Fassbinder could still probably kill you with it if she had to.

‘Corpselight’, and its predecessor ‘Vigil’, are the sort of books it’s incredibly hard to put down and go about your day from- the sort of books you’re probably going to try and work through in one sitting. They’re that good. My advice: don’t start them before heading to work, or if you have an early start the following day. Turn the phone to silent, send the housemates and mini-humans out for the day, and settle in for a reading binge.

‘Corpselight’ is published by Hachette/ Jo Fletcher Books, and is available at all good retailers.

 

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