Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can't take off her resume - human.
Not to be put off by anything - especially not her blood-drinking boss or death-goddess coworker - Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble - with Zoe right in the middle.
©2013 Mur Lafferty (P)2013 Hachette Audio
Just enjoying my readin', 'ritin', and 'rithmatic.
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty is her best work to date. I have listened to her podcast for over five years and have read or listened to most of the things she has written. During this time, her work has steadily improved. Don't take that as an implication that her early work was poor. I'm not saying that. Merely, her work has evidently matured and I found this book to be the best of her work thus far. Her nomination for the Campbell Award is well earned.
Urban Fantasy has been all the rage for over a decade now, so it's nice to see an author I enjoy bring something new to the table.
The accepted premise of most Urban Fantasies is that monsters of one form, or more likely many forms, share society with humans and humans fail to see them all around because we choose to not see them. Our puny human brains can't come to grips, for some reason, that monsters exist and we come up with excuses to explain their evidence away. I generally find this premise a little more than I can swallow, but I choose to not let this one thing ruin all the excellent stories that have been coming out. The Shambling Guide is no exception in using this trope.
What separates The Shambling Guide from other Urban Fantasies is the protagonist, Zoe. Zoe is not a Monster Hunter, or a Witch/Wizard, or even "In the Know" at the beginning of the story. She's an office worker. Specifically, a publishing editor. (Bet the people in the industry got a kick out of this one!) It was refreshing to read a story with an "every day" hero. Such heroes are my favorite. It gets boring reading about "experts" in the monster field with all the answers deal with problems. I'd rather read about how a "normal" person reacts to being thrust into an extraordinary situation.
Mur Lafferty handles Zoe's introduction to the local Coterie (as opposed to "monster") community in a very natural way. Zoe needed a job. If monsters existed alongside and unbeknownst to humans, this seems the most likely reason for a human to be introduced into their secret world. From there, Zoe's story unfolds into a "Save the City while protecting the Coterie Charade" as she works as the editor to the creation of a Monster's guidebook to visiting NYC.
That's as much of the plot as I'm going to give away. What I will say: This book was fun to listen to. There was a surprising amount of humor. Often used in Urban Fantasy, but rarely is it organic. The humor in the Shambling Guide came about as a natural consequence of the story unfolding and Zoe simply living in a strange new world. If you don't laugh out loud a half dozen times throughout this book, then you've never had a job where you've had to work with other people.
I suppose I give one warning: The story is read by the author. Whereas Mur has a fine reading voice, she does not "do" voices. If you listen to the audio book, as I did, and you prefer a reader who "performs" the reading with a different voice for each character, Mur is not your gal. However, after years of podcasting and releasing audio versions of many of her stories (for free), she has a professional voice, so there's no need to fear that she may not have the chops to make her own story come alive. I gave her performance 4 stars. She speaks well, but I reserve 5 stars for people who "wow" me.
That headline is totally stolen from another reviewer somewhere, but it sums up this book remarkably well.The author does an excellent job of rooting the main character in the real world with her mundane struggles of life, love, and career, while smoothly introducing her to the truth of this urban fantasy world and balancing it all out with tidbits from the book she's working on to give the world a sense of history and true character.
I think that the audio version is way better when the author reads their work. There is nothing nicer than hearing the way they pronounce names and the way a conersation was meant to be spoken.
I loved the way it reminded me of Dougas Adams Hitchhikers guide series. It didn't have any rip off moments, but it flowed along in a very simar fashion. The humor is also very witty.
The main character Zoe.
I would say, overall, it brightened my day.
Love the book, cannot wait for the next one! Keep them coming!
I am a writer who loves reading.
This was a great urban fantasy story with a strong female character, but without glittery vampires or sexy werewolves. Thank goodness. The main character is realistic and interesting. She has real reactions to mind-boggling situations and to any injury incurred during the story.
I would equate it to a more light-hearted version of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere - set in New York City. I can't wait for her next one! This might be a series I actually finish.
The author narrates it. You know exactly what the author wanted to convey because she performs it. Its also an awesome book.
The most common description of the book is about a woman who writes a travel guide for monsters.
That's true. And its so much more. It's way more engaging that it has any right to be (I haven't read a book so fast since Old Man's War, and that's about the highest praise I can give).
Mur's great. The book's great. Read it.
Love Sci-Fi, Fantasy and Romance books.
I was really surprised by this book. I thought it was well written and funny. It had good character development and a nice pace. I liked the fact that this was not the same cookie cutter paranormal/urban fantasy set up. I also agree with the other reviewers, the author's narration is not bad, but does not provide the same depth as a professional narration can.
The Shambling Guide was a purely fun story. Entertaining and engaging.
Not all authors can narrate their own books. Mur Lafferty was... OK. It was certainly a passable job. I think the story would come across even better and stronger in the voice of a trained actress.
Really bad dialogue. Whenever a character speaks it makes me cringe a bit. The story is rather forced along. The world made is rather interesting, but filled with holes.
I am the host of the Brain Science Podcast and Books and Ideas. I have been a member of Audible since 2003. My favorite audiobooks are Sci Fi and nonfiction: especially history and biography
If you like Connie Willis or Neil Gaiman you will enjoy Mur Lafferty.
Mur Lafferty is one of the people who inspired me to begin podcasting, so I am used to consuming her work in the audio format. She is an excellent narrator whose voice transports the listener into whatever slightly odd world she has created. I actually listened to "The Shambling Guide to New York City" at normal speed, instead of speeding it up like I usually do when listening to fiction.
I have been following Mur Lafferty's writing for several years, but I can honestly say that "The Shambling Guide to New York City" is her best work yet. It has her trademark humor along with a completely realized world, well-rounded characters, and a compelling story.
What makes Mur Lafferty's writing stand out from the current rash of fantasy novels is her sense of humor. "The Shambling Guide to New York City" represents her most mature and compelling work. She has a created a complex, believable version of New York City. In addition, her protagonist is fully realized and immensely likable, but she also has inner reserves of strength and courage that make the reader care about her future. I can't wait to see what will happen in the next book.
Funny; interesting characters; unique take on coterie type stuff
Would definitely read again
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