Monday, 14 July 2014

Street Magic, by Caitlin Kittredge

1 star

I've been casting about for a new paranormal series to start chomping my way through, but if Street Magic accomplished anything, it was to prove that Black London is not going to be that series. Set in a London in which the walls between this world and the shadow-world that runs parallel are very thin, children are going missing. And tough female cop Pete Caldecott is going to need the help of street-mage Jack Winter, who supposedly died in front of her 12 years ago, to get them back...

Some books, like Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, dream up a shadowy parallel London that is wonderful and strange while still feeling plausible and recognisably London. Street Magic is not one of those books. Aside from a few mentions of place names and some mangled Brit-speak we could have been anywhere, parallel London - the Black - was a good idea that we then barely bothered with, and our main characters, Pete and Jack, were probably supposed to be charming assholes but unfortunately forgot to show any charm.

We know that Pete is a tough cop because she's always threatening to put her boot up someone's arse, being bitchy when it's not called for, and thinking nothing of indulging in a little breaking and entering or a spot of police brutality. Her detective work is based mostly around arching an eyebrow - it's certainly not based on anything like, I don't know, piecing together evidence or asking any pertinent questions (despite having apparently seen Jack die, it takes her 3/4 of the book to ask why the hell he's not dead, wonder why everyone keeps calling him a crow-mage, or what the hell that means anyway) and she seemed to forget all about the missing children for long stretches of time in favour of thinking about or looking at Jack instead.

The wildly off-putting Jack is a really crap version of Constantine who seems to have learnt to speak English solely through listening to Buffy The Vampire Slayer's Spike and, as well as having no redeeming features whatsoever, is responsible for some of the more unsuccessful attempts at being British (you won't find many of us who use 'fuck all' or 'bugger all' as exclamations - they're instead swearier ways of saying 'nothing', i.e: 

And as for all the magic, I've still no idea what gives Jack such super bloody special status amongst mages, how much of the magic worked, or why sorcerers are so supposedly badass when they can be easily vanquished, again and again, by someone with no clue as to how to fight them, as instead of building a plausible world or magic system we'd settled instead for pulling random plot points and magic rules from out of someone's ass.

To top it all off, with long stretches of nothing happening other than two unlikeable people bitching at one another and any action that did occur quickly becoming repetitive, what should have been a little piece of brain candy took forever to slog through. I won't be wasting any more precious reading time in this world.