To commemorate the release of the third Twenty Palaces novel, here a slightly negative review of the second book which I only recently finished. In it Raymond Lily goes to another small town where an auction for another supernatural predator is being held. As expected, things go from bad to worse to hellish in a short amount of time.
My biggest beef with the novel is that it feels too often like Lily is running from place to place all over town for most of the novel with not much happening. Now, following the conventions of the whole urban fantasy genre and the first novel, this might seem like an odd sort of criticism, since this is what most of the characters do plotwise in these novels. So, I try to be more specific. The book starts with the auction and the supernatural predator getting away from his buyer later on, ready to terrorize the normal population. For the rest of the novel Lily tries to kill the predator, following him all over town. Since it’s not a big town, it feels like he is just moving from place A to B to C to A again and then everything just repeat ad nauseam.
He’s always a second too late to catch the predator and when he isn’t, doesn’t really have way to kill it. The only thing that changes over the course of the book is how the situation in the town gets worse with each moment, until all the town’s people are either death or have become slaves of the predator. Sure, this is simplifying everything to a degree, but I was so bored halfway through that I stopped reading the book for a few months. The book still has the raw energy that I loved about the first part and we learn some knew factoids about the setting, but on the whole the book felt weaker than the first part.
Also, the events in the first part, and the predator there, had a more horrifying and repulsive nature than the predator here. The things the second predator does are still pretty awful, but subjectively speaking they just doesn’t pack the same kind of punch as in the first book.