Monday 8 September 2014

Our Lady of the Streets by Tom Pollock

Published 7th August 2014 by Jo Fletcher Books
435 pages in hardback
Cover art by Ghost
Summary from Publisher’s website
Ever since Beth Bradley found her way into a hidden London, the presence of its ruthless goddess, Mater Viae, has lurked in the background. Now Mater Viae has returned with deadly consequences.
Streets are wracked by convulsions as muscles of wire and pipe go into spasm, bunching the city into a crippled new geography; pavements flare to thousand-degree fevers, incinerating pedestrians; and towers fall, their foundations decayed.
As the city sickens, so does Beth – her essence now part of this secret London. But when it is revealed that Mater Viae’s plans for dominion stretch far beyond the borders of the city, Beth must make a choice: flee, or sacrifice her city in order to save it.
This final book in the Skyscraper Throne Trilogy is even more enjoyable if you have read I and II, but it works alone. Re-acquaintance with characters such as the gender-changing litter-spirit Gutterglass and the oily Johnny Naphtha just adds to the pleasures of this YA adventure in an alternative London.
Usefully for both newcomers and those who don’t recall too well, there are quick recaps here and there as characters need to be briefed themselves. This is just as well with a fairly complex plot to follow. You might also appreciate the interactive map on the Jo Fletcher site.
As with the other two, this is a story to exercise your mind’s eye. Full of lively and sometimes gruesome invention, amongst the fast-paced action there are striking images that will stay with you. It’s the sort of story you have to run with, accept on its own terms and revel in the exhilaration. Parkour for the imagination.
Nonetheless, there is a strong emotional storyline involving the major characters – it’s not all verbal SFX. There is a definite and moving resolution to the whole trilogy – but I can’t say more for fear of spoilers.
The Skyscraper Trilogy is ideal for older confident readers with a taste for baroque urban fantasy. All three books feature strong female characters and richly reflect the diversity of contemporary London. Well worth reading – and reading again.

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