Book Review - The Phoebe Harkness books by James Fahy.
Today its purely a book review, no other waffle to distract you. Maybe.
I’ll keep this as spoiler free as I can but if you know absolutely nothing at all about these books then I will be giving you a basic outline of the world they are set in, so you might consider that a spoiler I guess. With that being said, lets proceed shall we?
The first thing to say is that these books are fun! I smiled all the way through Hell’s Teeth and, whilst Crescent Moon is a little longer and a little more in depth, it still has that sense of humour and fun weaved into its fabric. James writes really well. And I mean, really, really well! He keeps these books engaging and fast paced throughout and you get the impression that he would be a really fun bloke to meet. If you want to interact with him, follow him on Instagram here.
James has created an immensely likeable character in Phoebe Harkness. This lady is seriously badass! At the start of the first book, Hell’s Teeth, Phoebe is a scientist studying the GO’s (Genetic Others) from distance, in a purely academic way. That all changes fairly quickly when her hated supervisor goes missing and Phoebe is called upon to give a presentation to the members of the controlling body of the New Oxford society that she lives in, The Cabal. At that meeting she encounters Allesndro, an enigmatic Vampire, and her world changes forever. James has been really clever here, all of this happens within the first 2 or 3 chapters of the book and he uses it to introduce you to the world you'll be reading about. But its done so well, its seamless, it doesn't feel like exposition. And the meeting between Phoebe and Allesandro gives you some insight into some of the powers that James has given the Vampires here, but again, its not done in a heavy handed way at all, it all serves the story. Too many times you read books that suddenly pull you out of the story to give you a huge chunk of lore about the characters you will meet, and its so annoying. At least it is to me. James has woven everything you need to know within the story, so you never have that flow broken. Great stuff!
The way that the various Genetic Others are written here is also very well done, they have enough of the familiar traits that you expect from them, but they have a little something else as well, just as an example, normally Vampires are written as humans who have been “turned”, but that isn’t the case here. They are actually a separate species from humans entirely. And in the Bonewalkers we have something new entirely. They are so intriguing! I really hope we learn more about them further along in the series.
The first book, Hell’s Teeth, deals mainly with Vampires, whilst book 2, Crescent Moon, introduces us to James’ version of Were’s, the Tribals. But he doesn’t just focus on them, rather, they have been added to the mix. Rather like a good piece of orchestral music, it starts by setting a hook in book one, then book two continues that hook but layers in a new instrument and a new theme. Hopefully this will be the case throughout the series.
Crescent Moon is a little longer and more in depth than Hell’s teeth. And one of the things that shines through here is how familiar James is with the place he is writing about. There were glimpses of it in book 1, I mean, you could tell James knows Oxford well, but in book 2 that really comes out. You get a real feeling of love for the city here, and some nice History as well which i really appreciated as I love History. But thats not to say its suddenly gone all stale and stodgy. Not at all, it still tears along at a great pace and you know that every time Allesandro makes an appearance you're going to get that great humour coming out again.
There are a great cast of supporting characters here as well, the serious Griff, Lucy the secret Helsing, and the incredible Servant Cloves. My god, I love her so much.
If you're after a new take on the Urban Gothic mythos, with enough familiarity to mean that you don't have to learn an entirely new set of Supernatural Lore, then I cant recommend these enough. The stories are great, the writing is top notch and the characters are immensely likeable.
Can I give it 6 out of 5? No? Ok, its a 5 then.
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