St Paul, MN, United States | Member Since 2005
As usual, this book is peopled with great characters, presided over by great flawed wonderful Marla. The world is a character in itself: hard, gritty and true; the author's conception of magic and its requirements both colorful and unique. We get to see Marla claw her way up from squalor to a kind of greatness, rising and falling on the way.
I like these characters. I appreciate that their relationship isn't predicated on teetering constantly on the edge of romance. I enjoy that they appreciate each other for their skills, for what each one brings to the investigation. I like that they have families and friends that continue to exist even when the story focus moves away from them. The author has created an interesting cast that is rather large, but she handles their numbers rather deftly (although I'm tempted at times to keep notes so I don't get confused - who was that? A trick I have to employ with Dickens.) Emotions ring true. People are imperfect and make mistakes. Even our heroes make mistakes, sometimes awful ones. Villains are seldom complete monsters, more often complex with real hurts and motivations of their own.
The author seems to know a lot about the history of this time, and cares enough about it to be consistent, and to employ elements and events large and small in her story lines. I get an impression of a lot of research, of an encyclopedic command of the details. Characters have conversations studded with topics and terms showing real familiarity with period skills and news of the day, world events are pressing on their minds, they are plagued by the limits of period science and belief, they are completely creatures of the world that Robertson has recreated. It is a treat to spend some time in that world looking around corners, noticing the little treasures and delights scattered in your path all for the sake of atmosphere and immersion in the time period.
I recommend this book without hesitation.
I'm not a qualified steampunk reader, so forgive me if I hit things with an obvious stick, but what fun! For those, like me, who are strangers to this universe: the science is wonky, steam powered and fantastical. History is not following the course that it did in our history books, so don't be alarmed by drastic departures. At times this seems like both an homage to and a parody of Victorian fantastic fiction, but with a thoroughly modern sensibility. I love that the male lead character is allowed to decide to be gentile and mannered and horrified by the behavior of the female lead character who is fierce and cunning, while at the same time fascinated by her. The role reversal seems natural and satisfying, both for the characters and for me, the reader.
I see this so often in the youngsters my son knows: gentle boys and fierce girls. Perhaps that is why this kind of literature is so popular with their generation. This world is turned on its head, but in a way perhaps it is truer than the world we live in.
I'd say Southern Gods is worth it for Lovecraftian Horror fans just for the first, really great half, which is a stunning ride, an idea brilliant in its conception and execution but lacking in its completion. The setting is cool, unusual, and nicely crafted, the idea is brilliant, the characters are interesting and pretty likeable for horror. But there's a point where the momentum suddenly stops. You seem to switch tracks into a secondary story, slower tempo, sodden mood. At that point, feel free to read something else. If you decide to slug it out to the final scene, you may not feel like your persistence was rewarded. I didn't. But the first half of the book - that was a gem. If the author could find a way to keep that kind of inventive, interesting scene and character thing going, with that feeling of tension and menace but at the snappy tempo of the first half of the book, he'd have something worth praise. As it is, I can recommend this book as an indication of an author to watch.
The story is fun, the characters are the best part, and their relationships, to each other, to their families. They've clearly got a history. But where are the rest of these books? I finished this one, relishing picking up the next in the series (the title clearly indicated a series) but there's no more in the Audible library. Ack! Don't do this to me! I want to know what happens to these people next!
I have read a lot of historical novels, a lot of mysteries, and yet this one really surprised me, not something easily done anymore. The characters, became people I cared about as the story unfolded. I didn't pick this book right away, because the plague years were so dismal, so grindingly awful, I did not want to go there. When I finally picked this one up, I was surprised at how much the author had been able to do with this subject.
After the first book in this series, I came back to audible and bought all the rest in one go. I have loved every book. The characters are amazingly well drawn and fun. You care about the plot, you care about the people, you even care about the weird magico-political system for gosh-sakes. I understand the reviewers who felt like this book left them hanging off a ledge. The cliff hangers at the end of this book are painful, I do feel left hanging, in part because the fate of characters I do care about is still in the balance. Do I feel like the story is incomplete? No. This was a natural break in the action, a natural completion of this set of events. Does it feel like the story could end here? Heck no. But the overarching story doesn't end, it is a series. I am willing to forgive Mr. Pratt for his cliffhanger, so long as he doesn't procrastinate writing the next one. Are you reading this, Mr. Pratt? Back to your typewriter!
This is a great book! The universe this author has created is varied, interesting and dangerous, and so are the characters. While some of the topics referred to are perhaps not appropriate for children, my teenager (who usually sneers at my audio books or asks if I can turn them off) was so hooked by this book he'd ask me to pause it when he left the room, and bugged me about looking for possible sequels.
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