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Tuesday, October 20, 2009

“Sixty One Nails” by Mike Shevdon (Reviewed by Mihir Wanchoo)

Read a sample chapter of Sixty-One Nails HERE Visit Angry Robot's Site for the Book Here

Book & author information:

Sixty-One Nails is Mike Shevdon's debut novel. It is being published by Angry Robert in the UK on the 29th of October, 2009 in paperback form with a US release date sometime in the next year. The PDF copy has a page count of 460 broken into 30 chapters. The author has also included an afterword which makes a very fascinating read and details some of the important events and ceremonies of the book and the historical basis behind them. Sixty-One Nails is an urban fantasy (despite it's non-urban fantasy-ish title). All chapters are set in the first person perspective of Niall Petersen and is the first book of The Courts of the Feyre series.

Book overview & analysis:

I had read the book blurb which the plot line sounded all-to-familiar. However the book cover and the title nagged at my mind. I then happened onto this piece (Click here to read the article) by Mike Shevdon about urban fantasy which made me very very curious to read this book. In retrospect I've learnt that the title and the front page are very important to the story!
Sixty-One Nails is set in London and features the primary character of Niall Petersen, who leads an ordinary life but with the added weight of being a father and a testy relationship with his ex-wife. 

Readers are introduced to him in the underground subway where shortly after witnessing an accident, Niall experiences something similar to a heart attack. His rescuer is a woman who goes by the name of Blackbird and mysteriously calls him Rabbit as she comforts his fears of his heart and condition. The story line quickly picks up as Niall learns that he may have a possible Fey background. All the unwanted attention due to this possible link causes him to try and run. Niall tries to learn the ropes of how to adjust and survive in a world in which he has no clue about the rules and day to day living. Blackbird is his only contact to this hidden world, and she is very slow in passing information along to Niall. It appears she is part wary of him and part fascinated by him. Together they learn about who is behind the attack on Niall which leads to them trying to change the world that they are familiar with. 

Mike Shevdon takes an interesting twist by linking the plot line with an ancient ceremony that is still taking place in current day London. I found this to be the highlight of Sixty-One Nails, as Shevdon seamlessly mingles the origins and traditional ceremony of the entire event and makes it a focal point of the book. The actual origins and history are nicely explained in the afterword of the book and come complete with proper references and further reading for those readers that were interested in it. The story line of Sixty -One Nails follows the protagonist as he moves from London to the countryside and back again. I feel a reader more familiar with the London setting and countryside could appreciate how eloquently, Shevdon wrote about it. 

There are some negatives of the book for myself. First, the events which occur all happen within a period of less than a week. However the prose is cumbersome in places as the story moves at a very slow pace in some areas. It took me a while to come to grips with this writing style as it seemed to take until around page 80-100 to pick up the pace of events. The second negative was that of the main character coming across as a bit bland. As Niall is supposed to be the main focus of the story and readers are viewing the whole story through his eyes, he seemed to be a bit subdued or laid back. His reactions to the events that are happening to him and the changes around him came across as indifferent. He understood and came to grips with his power a little too quickly for my liking. This may be a result of the fact that I found Blackbird's character to be more interesting then Niall. Maybe the author intended it to be so, as Blackbird is a bit flamboyant with a mix of mystery and 100% Fey'ree fatale. 

In the end I would recommend this book to anyone who wishes for something different in the urban fantasy sub genre. Mike Shevdon might not be the next big thing, but he's the next fresh voice in this genre. I look forward to what he writes about next and especially look forward to see what he brings to the second book in The Courts of the Feyre series. (This review is based off an arc provided by the publisher)


David said...

Nice review, just finished the book myself last week and about to post the review. Personally i loved it, but some of your points are valid as well. I loved the mix of folklore with actual history.

The Reader said...

Hi David

Thanks & yes I loved the mixing of history which Mike did in explaining the main event of the book. Hopefully the second book will be even better.


Gopakumar Sethuraman said...

Angry Robert? Did Robert start his own imprint? :)
Angry Robert = Angry Robot.


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