Wednesday 22 February 2017

Vigil by Angela Slatter

Vigil by Angela Slatter is the author's debut novel but regular followers of this blog may recall that Slatter is also a much-lauded author of shorter stories and collections and a few mosaic novels. I have reviewed several of her works before, which you can peruse here. Most notable of those, to me, are The Bitterwood Bible and Other Recountings and Sourdough and Other Stories, two mosaic novels (collections of linked short stories) that I adored. Vigil is, in many ways, rather dissimilar.

Verity Fassbinder has her feet in two worlds. The daughter of one human and one Weyrd parent, she has very little power herself, but does claim unusual strength - and the ability to walk between us and the other - as a couple of her talents. As such a rarity, she is charged with keeping the peace between both races, and ensuring the Weyrd remain hidden from us.

But now Sirens are dying, illegal wine made from the tears of human children is for sale - and in the hands of those Weyrd who hold with the old ways - and someone has released an unknown and terrifyingly destructive force on the streets of Brisbane.

And Verity must investigate - or risk ancient forces carving our world apart.

Vigil is an urban fantasy novel starring Verity and set in the city of Brisbane. Verity is half-human, half-Weyrd and an investigator whose main job it is to solve crimes, especially those where Weyrd shenanigans impact on normal humans. The story mainly follows Verity as she gets embroiled in a few cases.

This was an interesting read because I am more familiar with Slatter's more historically-set fantasy stories, albeit not exclusively. Vigil is still quite dark in its fantasy elements, as I've come to expect from Slatter, but these elements are mixed in with the real-world normality of Brisbane. The story happens when the Weyrd leaks into the normal and contaminates it.

Verity and the other characters all have layers to them, which makes the book particularly compelling. As well as enjoying Verity's character, I rather liked a couple of the side characters in particular. The human police officer whose job it is to deal with the official side of the investigations was well done, as was Verity's human love interest. What I liked most about David, the love interest, is the way the relationship was important to Verity but not her main concern for most of the book. For most of the book solving murders is the main thing going on in Verity's life, closely followed by not dying and keeping the people important to her safe. I appreciated that the romantic storyline was in the background because, let's face it, a string of siren murders is kind of more interesting than a healthy romantic relationship.

I highly recommend Vigil to fans of urban fantasy and Angela Slatter's other work. It brings a fresh and elegant darkness to to the genre, tying multiple cases together into a single coherent story. I really enjoyed it and I am eagerly awaiting the sequel, although it was a self-contained story.

4.5 / 5 stars

First published: 2016, Hachette
Series: Yes. Verity Fassbinder book 1 of ? (at least 2)
Format read: eARC
Source: Publisher via Netgalley
Challenges: Australian Women Writers Challenge

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