My rating: 4 of 5 stars
AudioTim 36: Mike Shevdon interview
One perk to being part of the Angry Robot Army is I get access to eARC’s of their newest releases. After reading the first two books in Mike’s Courts of the Feyre series (Sixty-One Nails and The Road to Bedlam), I was jonsin’ for this book to come out. Strangeness and Charm is set to release May 29th. I have an ARC signed by Mike to give away as part of my podcast with him, but today (May 28th) is the last day to enter.
Mike had me up late last night finishing Strangeness and Charm–a sign of a great book, for sure. I love a book with a strong ending, one that shows the author stepped up his game to create a spectacular finish. Mike pulled out all the stops on this one, creating one of the most memorable climaxes I’ve read across any genre. One of Mike’s strengths is how he uses native British history to insert mystery and magical intrigue into his stories. If you look at the awesome new cover design (the first two books will be redesigned in similar fashion), you’ll notice relics that the main character ends up hunting in the book to prevent a catastrophe.
In an interview I had recently with Mike, he mentioned how writing this Urban Fantasy series excites him because of how it presents a very real world, but also includes the magic that lies in the shadows. This in turn creates an experience for the reader where they hopefully start observing their own reality and where magic might be hiding. This is similar to how Horror draws people in, making them think a monster might be hiding in the dark, and while Mike does have some monsters in the first two books, this book is more about people with superpowers. Is the person that just walked by using glamour to hide the sword they’re carrying?
Having just seen Avengers, and loved it, this book made for a similar if not better experience–which is high praise to both. The main character, Niall, begins Strangeness and Charm with the task of finding half-breed fey who have escaped the events concluding book two, Road to Bedlam. Mike starts the book off showing us what one teenage half-breed would do with his ability to create the effects of projectile weapons. Anyone pantomime guns with their hands growing up? This kid does that and things actually blow up. How cool is that? And he’s just the beginning of many displays of unique superpowers.
While Mike gives us a hefty dose of magic battles, relic hunting, and the usual Niall-being-Niall rookie mistakes, the first third focuses on Niall’s relationship with his rebellious daughter, Alex. The theme explores the relationship between father and teenage daughter, and what both sides often go through before realizing how to show love in a respectful way. Alex is a half-breed like he is assigned to hunt, and eventually gets fed up feeling like she doesn’t belong. This creates a high-stakes tension when she falls into a group of half-breeds who have nefarious plans that Niall’s boss won’t take too kindly to.
I can’t say enough about how much I loved reading about the magical abilities of the half-breeds. The ending… wow. That was awesome, and emotional too beyond the “fireworks” display. Hats off to Mike for doing the research needed to make the setting feel so real–the relics, rituals and locations are all based on actual history. I can’t wait to see how this series concludes with book four.
Sixty-One Nails and The Road to Bedlam are the first two books in Mike’s Courts of the Feyre series. You can get them as ebooks now, or pre-order the newly designed print editions, to be released the same day as Strangeness and Charm, May 29th.