What is the story about?: What starts as a simple infestation of supernatural nastiness leads Carlos to a greater evil and a some questions about himself.
What else is this about?: This is the first in a series with a rich, diverse cast of characters. Carlos is sharply funny and very dry – which left me laughing out loud many times. He’s surrounded by an amazing cast of characters, each unique and very diverse. And, last Older is a New Yorker and his love for his city show
Daniel José Older’s Half-Resurrection Blues pulls no punches from its first chapter – I felt like I had been dropped into a story that had already started.
To an extent that’s true – Carlos plays a central part in Salsa Nocturna, an anthology of urban fantasy stories by Older.
Pacing can make or break a book, for me, and in the quest to move a narrative along many an author has not added details where there should be. That’s not the case here, because Carlos himself doesn’t know the details of his past to give him any sort of context for readers. He’s a blank slate learning things about himself as much as we are in some ways.
Carlos is an inbetweener – neither alive or dead, and an agent of the NYOCD (New York Council of the Dead). He goes where they send him, sending spirits back to the underworld, and taking care of any other sorts of supernatural nastiness. It’s a purpose for a character who doesn’t know anything about himself, and gives him a structure of sorts when there isn’t anything else like that in his world. Carlos has been under the impression that he is the only one of his kind, but, in this book, he finds out he isn’t.
An unfortunate set of circumstances leads him to a romance with one of the inbetweeners, Sasha. I wanted to be more invested in this relationship, but something held me back. And I still can’t figure out why. Perhaps the speed of it? It happens very quickly, and as suddenly as he meets her, Carlos is besotted with her.
So, while he’s having an inbetweener romance, the NYOCD sends him and his partner along to take care of several ngks – and yes, that’s the plural form of the word. They’re nasty imps, intent on mischief and ruin wherever they appear. Eventually, it becomes clear that this case is connected to the inbetweeners he’s found recently, and Carlos’ world pretty much gets turned upside down by the end of the book.
All of which means there are several spoilers which made me go: woah that I’m not saying here.
This book feels like NYC, always in a rush, but always with purpose. And the author’s deft touch with detail and clear love for his city is something that shines through in this instalment of the series.