I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review: my thanks for this opportunity.
As the saying goes, this second volume in the new Urban Fantasy series Ordshaw hits the ground running: while its predecessor Under Ordshaw needed to establish the playing field and to sketch the main characters’ profile and therefore suffered some slight pacing problems, Blue Angel can now afford to start exactly where we left off and drive at high speed toward the next phase of the story. And ‘high speed’ is indeed the code word here, since events move at such a breakneck pace that at times I felt dizzy just trying to follow them all, especially when considering that, as was the case in Book 1, they all happen in a very short time span.
Book 2 alternates its focus between the characters we already know – Pax, Letty, the Bartons and Casaria – and some new perspectives, like Sam Ward from the shady Ministry of Environmental Energy, which add further layers to the story and offer an inside look on the MEE and the bureaucratic mentality of politicians dealing with the supernatural – which is not exactly a wholesome or comforting sight…
The sense of chaos that plagued me before is present in Blue Angel as well, but here it finally makes sense, because we are trying to patch together the pieces of this complicated puzzle, and like the characters we understand we don’t have all the tiles of the mosaic and we struggle alongside these fictional people to find some order in the madness that has hit the city of Ordshaw since the events of the previous book. Toward the end, once some of the characters have finally understood that they stand a better chance of succeeding if they cooperate with each other, the picture becomes a little less fuzzy, but at the same time it takes on some very ominous overtones due to the unsettling discoveries made along the way, not the least of which is that there is a mastermind behind it all and it’s clearly NOT a friendly one.
As fascinating as the mystery is, however, the characters still take over the stage, particularly the fae: Letty continues to be the irreverent, loudmouthed pest we all know and love – and her brashness is inversely proportional to her size, which makes the diminutive creature even more hilarious – but here we see some important changes in her attitude, especially toward Pax. Despite the name-calling and the slanderous remarks she employs quite liberally, Letty doesn’t hide how she cares for the human young woman and her safety, and I enjoyed the direction their relationship is going, especially in consideration of the otherwise quite strained human/fae interactions. Letty’s stance is further highlighted by the introduction of another fae, Lightgate, who makes Letty look like a dainty lady: Lightgate is a garish dresser who always goes around with a bottle of spirits from which she sip frequently, has a very low opinion of everyone who is not fae, and is prone to mindless violence. Which makes her a delightful foil for Letty’s newfound point of view.
As for the humans, Pax truly shines here as the only one with enough wits and intelligence not to be led astray by false trails and misdirections, while showing an inordinate amount of courage in the face of the harrowing situations she is involved in: there are moments when she regrets becoming involved in this whole, complicated mess, and when she yearns for the “good old times”
She’d been happy playing cards. She’d been happy wandering Ordshaw at night, not knowing what lay under the surface. She didn’t need this.
but these are just quick flashes of nostalgia for a simpler past, soon forgotten in the wake of the more compelling requirements of the adventure that started only a couple of days prior in that bar, and Pax never fails to rise to the occasion. She is not your classical UF heroine, one gifted with special abilities she can call upon when needed: she is an ordinary person thrown into extraordinary circumstances, and doing her best to cope with them, which makes her more approachable and likable as a character.
The newcomer Sam Ward, the Ministry employee gifted with intelligence and foresight who was therefore shunted into a useless sinecure (that’s bureaucracy for you…) is equally interesting, so I liked the way she took over once the circumstances at the MEE changed drastically, and I have high hopes of her becoming a more permanent fixture in the overall story. After the antics from Casaria, the King of Weirdos, Sam comes across as a fresh breath of air and a voice for sanity in the general foolishness and lack of imagination that seems to be the main requirements for Ministry employees.
As a counterpoint, we see very little of Barton, which I confess did not feel like a great loss because he seemed more like a bumbling amateur than anything else – and some of the discoveries Pax makes in the course of the story would point out to him and his former underground explorer friends as clumsy fools seeking adventures to relieve the boredom of a dull life rather than true paladins of the city’s safety.
Clueless fools. They’d blundered into something big enough to affect the whole city, and then sat around boozing and making home videos […] No wonder the Blue Angel had taken advantage of them.
This second volume in the Ordshaw series sets the stage for some interesting developments and revelations in what looks like a scenario where no one can truly understand what’s going on, unless some more of the Ordshaw mysteries are revealed. It’s going to be an interesting journey, indeed…