Like a line of dominoes, Nick’s life has started to tumble, and he has no idea what the final result will be. His father, a redcap — a goblin who has ‘dipped his cap,’ or taken up murder — is in prison, begging him to take up one last job. Prison is no place for a goblin, especially not a redcap, but buying protection is expensive and so Nick, of course, takes the job. And, as always, one thing leads to another. So now Nick has a blade, and not just any blade. It’s the sword his father used in his kills; it also happens to be one of the great five, named weapons so powerful they’re near sentient. And this one, Shadow’s Edge, is the goblin sword.
Then people start dying. The people Nick stole from. And the cop he’s kind of had a crush on has admitted to maybe, just maybe, having a thing for him in return, even if Nick is a goblin and Thom is a Phouk — a shape shifting trickster — who can do so much better. But Thom keeps saying he likes him, and when Nick’s in trouble, it’s Thom he goes running to. For a thief, running to a cop isn’t the best idea. But maybe this time, this one time, it will be?
As Nick might say: If only this were that kind of story.
I think this book is going to be very polarizing. Whether you enjoy it or not is likely going to entirely depend on if you like Nick, who whines and snarks and exposits at you as you read. Because this book is written in a conversational style, Nick, a goblin chock full of personality, is entreating the reader, yelling at the reader, confiding in the reader, and sharing his life secrets with the reader, which makes him both an unreliable narrator and the lens through which we see the world the author has created.
In this alternate world, magic and technology live side by side, but not hand in hand. Smart phones and Starbucks exist along with magic spells and fae courts, with no sense as to how they work or how they don’t, since Nick is only concerned with the moment and never with the bigger picture. And yet, for all that, the bits that show through, the hints of what could be that filter past Nick’s indifference, hint at a larger story of various races and politics. Unfortunately, for this book, it’s the Nick show.
Nick is defensive, insecure, and indifferent to his own skills because he’s always been compared to someone better. He swears like he thinks it will make him seem tough. He makes prison rape jokes, date rape jokes, and dick jokes aplenty, along with lazy, crude stereotypes (the Irish with their charm and gift of gab, how only a weeb would eat Ramen). While they are presumably meant to be humorous, I found them to be stale rather than shocking. He also has so many complaints and sulks and sourness that I felt, several times, like I just wanted to put the book down and walk away from it. In all honesty, I did not enjoy reading Nick’s story, sitting on Nick’s shoulder while he called me “Buddy” and yelled at me for not telling what was going on.
Thom, the love interest, is another matter. As a Phouk and trickster ,he is inordinately turned on by being tricked. Nick leaving him with no clothes in a public bathhouse, or making a group of people think Thom’s a lost dog make him all the more eager to fuck Nick into the mattress and beyond. He also unloads his past about a distant father and family difficulties onto Nick for no reason in the middle of a meeting on the street because …I suppose he has no one else in his life other than the goblin thief? Somehow, all of that makes him fall in love with Nick, but I’m afraid the romance and the relationship fell as flat as the jokes in this book because I felt zero connection. Thom has one personality during their conversations, another when he’s putting on the moves, and a third when he — like a robot — behaves in a way that makes zero sense for the character, but some sense for the story.
However, as much as this book was not to my taste, I can recognize that Nick is — despite my personal feelings — a very decided character. Thom, however, is not. The few moments that this book managed to hold my attention were when Nick was dealing with other goblins, showing hints of a more mature and nuanced character … all of which faded away when he had to pretend to be interested in Thom or when he was suddenly reminded of the plot. This book is such a strange one for me, because it’s such an almost. Even if I dislike a character, I enjoy being able to have an actual opinion on them, and I did enjoy the skill in plotting and the strength of the writing, even if I didn’t enjoy the approach the author took to telling the story
If you’re interested in trying this book, please consider downloading a sample first. If you don’t enjoy the first few pages, then it’s not the book for you, because it will continue as it begins. But if you find yourself drawn in, or enjoy Nick’s personality or the author’s sense of humor, then you will probably very much enjoy this story. I honestly regret that I didn’t.