Review: The Shambling Guide to New York City, by Mur Lafferty

Mur Lafferty is a legend in the podcasting community, from her award winning “I Should Be Writing” show back to her early years of “Geek Fu Action Grip” show. She has been publishing in small and indie press for a while, but this is something of a breakout novel for her. She recently won the Campbell Award for best new writer, and she has more books in the pipeline.

This is the story of Zoe, a down-on-her-luck travel writer in the big city. It’s not actually new to her, since much of childhood was actually in New York, but now she is on her own, unemployed, and feeling pretty low. But then she stumbles upon the city’s underworld of coterie, the polite term for monsters of every stripe from dragons to zombies. She is just desperate enough for work to get over her squeamishness and take a job writing a travel guide for New York monsters, pointing out the best hotels, entertainment, and *gulp* feeding grounds.

I liked it. It was a good exploration of the coterie culture and how it interacted with our world, both in secret and somewhat in public. The conflict managed to tie in with Zoe’s personal story, and it all came together nicely at the end. I suppose my only complaint was that the ending kept building battle up on battle. After a certain point through that escalation, I started feeling detached from the tale and the fates of the characters. Still, I’m looking forward to the next book where she attempts to do a similar guide for New Orleans.