Sixty-One Nails is a nice introduction to a new series, The Courts of Feyre. This opening book is set primarily in modern-day London with a likable e..Show More »veryman protagonist who suffers through the world's toughest midlife crisis. Sixty-One Nails blends the tropes of urban fantasy with old-school folklore about the Fey and Feyre (how many ways can you spell Fairy - let me count the authors) and mixes in some fascinating English history to create a unique fantasy adventure. The plot is fast paced with a lot of action, but not a lot of violence. The city of London, the surrounding countryside, and the rich English history are all used quite effectively to set the tone and to drive the plot. The writing is strong with a lot of evocative language to build great mental pictures to enhance the story.
Much of this first book is really about Niall Petersen (Rabbit), a middle-aged Joe Blow coming to terms with who he really is and what he will really do with the rest of his longer than expected life wrapped up in a truly engaging plot and the evolution of this central character is interesting and believable within the fantasy context. There is a romantic thread in this first book which does not factor much until the end of the book, but unfortunately, I think it may be a bigger part of the rest of the series. I say unfortunately because I really enjoyed listening to Rabbit's evolving relationship with his mysterious mentor much more than I enjoyed the more trite romantic relationship with the less mysterious and less powerful girlfriend.
Nigel Carrington is very pleasant to listen to and his voice seems to be a good fit for both the style and setting of the book.
With some reservations about the romance introduced at the end of Sixty-One Nails, I intend to continue with this adventure now that Audible has added two more in the series. Most readers of Urban Fantasy will like this new twist to the genre - recommended.
Solid urban fantasy (B+ 4-part series); book 2 = B
Note: In this review, I discuss the four-part series as a whole, in addition to main focus on this book. There are purposefully vague references to so..Show More »me of these things below, to provide examples without creating spoilers. - Short version: First book is decent, second is fairly good, but investment pays off as the following 2 books just get better and better. Book 2 = B. Overall series = A-. If you’re into contemporary/urban fantasy, I would definitely recommend picking this series. - Story (B+): If you like dynamic characters that really grow and change as the story unfolds, then this might not be the book/series for you. If you like urban fantasy that has a pretty cool story, then pick this one up. In that it centers on a normal contemporary guy who tumbles into a surreal world, it’s somewhat reminiscent of Neverwhere (by Neil Gaiman), but without quite hitting the mark. There were few times when I thought it almost got started to approach a similar level of suspense/tension/emotion/thought, but fell just a little short for some reason I can’t quite put my finger on (which is probably why I’m not a writer). Then again, I think it’s really not fair to compare other authors to Neil Gaiman (he’s just too good). As mentioned right up front, not terribly dynamic main characters—this is primarily a plot-driven book. Fortunately it’s quite an enjoyable plot. At the same time, I’d suggest practicing a little suspension of disbelief… and maybe suspension of a bit of logic too (just a touch). There are odd little incongruities, or at least little things that could be patched up a bit better. For example: Character 3 asks “do you trust me?” Character 2 had been placing trust, headlong, in 3 for the majority of the tale at this point and has not been let down, but for some reason 2 is suddenly skeptical. So, 2 thinks “3 might have good intentions, but also has 3’s own motivations.” But there’s nothing that really changed up to this point to bring about this skepticism. As far as the villains and many secondary characters go, I found them to be perhaps the richest part of the tapestry woven by the story, and would enjoy reading again. The magic system is not terribly outlandish or especially original, but one thing that I REALLY liked was that nobody was leveling forests and towns with god-like power. When magic is employed it is generally more targeted and taxing. Characters are clearly limited in their ability to conjure by some clearly set guidelines (I won’t get into specifics, because everybody hates spoilers). There are also methods of travel and communication, which I found both entirely sensible and fantastically abstract at the same time (one of my favorite bits). - Audio (B): The performance was good, but not great. Good tone and pace, plenty clear, good production quality, etc. I thought it would be better to have more range, or incorporation of accents, to differentiate segments of quick conversation that didn’t explicitly specify the speaker. There are fairly long sections of dialogue would go by without a single “he said”… not good for someone with my attention span… anyway, what was I saying? Oh, yeah.. In some conversations with similar voices I got a little mixed up as to who said what. - The overall series (A-): The second, third, and fourth books follow on with the story. The third and early fourth (and late part of second) are the sections that get into the culmination of previously laid out plot points. That’s when things ramp up, and the whole scope increases (including some of the aforementioned magical capabilities). Basically, we get very well acquainted with the people who can really throw their metaphysical weight around. We also get to learn that some people are more capable, and/or differently motivated, than we (or anyone) had originally assumed. In the first book, I really feel like the whole story is sort of set up and the ball gets rolling a bit. The second was sort of the low point of the series, but still good. It built up characters and environment more, which was good. The next two installments are where things come together and happen in a way that made me stop questioning the value of the first book, and say ”Yeah, this was TOTALLY worth it.” The fourth is a REALLY solid resolution.
I very much enjoyed the first two books in this series. This book contained too much whiny dialog by most of the characters. At one point or another, ..Show More »each character has a whiny exchange with another character. Blackbird loses her edge and becomes a jealous whiny new mom, Alex is a one dimensional whiny teen, and even our hero, Niles, whines throughout! I'm hoping the author got all the whining out of his system with this book. If the next one is a whine fest I won't be able to finish it.
I was disappointed in book 3 but this book made up for it. Gone (almost) is the whiny dialog. We return to interesting characters in a great story. Th..Show More »e ending was unexpected, though not a surprise. As usual, Nigel Carrington did a superb job. Each character has his or her own voice and none are annoying. I'm looking forward to the next one!