Book review: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is the author of the excellent I Should Be Writing podcast, which provides useful advice to writers of all calibers. After self-publishing a variety of fantasy and science fiction works, Lafferty now debuts her first professionally-published novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City.

The Shambling Guide’s Zoë Norris has made a small name for herself as a travel guide editor and is looking for a fresh start in the Big Apple. While she manages to land a new job, she is introduced to the underground world of the “coterie” (“monsters” is derogatory), filled with vampires, zombies, demons, fairies, and more–a world where most of her coworkers want to eat her, and they’re not even the most dangerous things around. Just a few weeks into her new job, Zoë must face off against zombie hoards, a perfidious incubus, and a modern day Frankenstein in order to save her adopted city.

(I feel the need to warn that there is some explicit sexual content in this book. While the scene serves an important purpose, sensitive readers may wish to skip to the next chapter when things start to heat up.)

Sometimes funny, sometimes suspenseful, always entertaining, The Shambling Guide to New York City will appeal to readers of urban fantasy and to anyone who loves deconstructing and reconstructing the classic stories. The world of coterie New York is vast and complex, with huge swaths of the life of the city hinted at beyond what we can see on the page, and the historical references are rich and far reaching. Zoë leads us into this world with confidence (when things aren’t going too crazy) as she discovers it for herself and tries to find her place.

It may have taken Ms. Lafferty nearly eight years to get a novel onto the store shelves, but that practice has paid off. The Shambling Guide to New York City is a great story with unforgettable characters, compelling mysteries, danger lurking in the shadows, and more than a few laughs along the way.

My rating: 5 out of 5.

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About Alex R. Howe

I'm a full-time astrophysicist and a part-time science fiction writer.
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