Edition 28: Book Review: Vigil by Angela Slatter
Reviewed by Mysti Parker
Urban fantasy is one of those genres that is pretty saturated right now. Therefore, finding a real gem among the vast sea of titles is quite the challenge. When asked to review this one, I was a little leery that it might be one of a myriad of similar stories, but I’m happy to say that Vigil definitely stands out from the crowd.
The story is set in Brisbane, Australia, where there exists a longstanding uneasy truce between Weyrd (supernaturals) and Normal (mortals). The supernaturals range from sirens to vampires to medusas, angels and a bunch of others that aren’t really named but have uniquely Weyrd features and powers. Here we follow the struggles of Verity Fassbinder, a private investigator of sorts. She’s half-Weyrd and half-Normal, which left her with the benefits of enormous strength and the ability to coexist in both worlds. The latter simply means she can see the true forms of Weyrd and bypass their magical wards. Though she’s never felt truly part of either world, she’s tasked with keeping the peace between them.
In Vigil, we learn that Verity’s job is anything but easy. She’s still recovering from an encounter with a ’serker when the story begins, leaving her with a bad leg and a terrible limp. She now must investigate a murder mystery as one siren body piles up after another and a golem consumes people in its wake. Through it all, she’s battered, stabbed, and bruised but still possesses a formidable drive to keep interrogating until she manages to get the answers she needs. As if that’s not enough, Verity’s boss is her Weyrd ex while she tries to nurture her new relationship with a totally Normal boyfriend. All this leads up to a much larger and complex conflict that almost gets them all killed.
This was a well-paced story, excellently worded, with some of the best setting descriptions I’ve ever read. You can easily envision the settings with Verity in each scene, but at times the setting descriptions got a little long. I would have liked to see more physical description of Verity (difficult with the whole book in her POV) because her image remained a bit blurry in my mind amidst the detailed settings.
What I did love immensely were the names—Verity, Bela, Ziggy, and Calliope—just a few examples of the whimsical nomenclature of our characters. I also loved Verity’s tenacity and witty dialogue, although the wit was a little heavy-handed at times. The climax had a few nice twists, but the final battle was somewhat anticlimactic. What might have been one long fight was over too quickly. It also felt like too many conflicts were introduced that couldn’t quite be wrapped up without resorting to long monologues.
These minor quibbles aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Vigil and look forward to the next book in the Verity Fassbinder series, Corpselight. If you enjoy urban fantasy, yet are hesitant to find one that’s truly unique, give this one a try. While all the creatures themselves may not be unique, the intriguing plot and settings make it well worth a read. I recommend it for teens and beyond.
Vigil, by Angela Slatter
Publisher: Jo Fletcher Books, 2016
Mysti Parker is a wife, mother, and shameless chocoholic. While her first love is romance, including the Tallenmere fantasy romance series and an award-winning historical with EsKape Press, she enjoys writing flash fiction (the weirder the better) and children’s stories. She resides in Buckner, KY with her husband, three children and too many pets.