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Review: Lo’Life Book 1 – Romeo Spikes by Joanne Reay (Titan Books)

18 Jun

The Blurb:

”The tragedy of suicide is not death. It is what dies within us whilst we live.”

Working the Homicide squad, Alexis Bianco believes she’s seen every way a life can be taken. Then she meets the mysterious Lola and finds out she’s wrong. More weapon than woman, Lola pursues a predator with a method of murder like no other.

The Tormenta.

If you think you’ve never encountered Tormenta, think again. You’re friends with one. Have worked for one. Maybe even fallen in love with one.

They walk amongst us—looking like us, talking like us. Coercing our subconscious with their actions.

Like the long-legged beauty that seduces the goofy geek only to break his heart, causing him to break his own neck in a noose. Or the rockstar, whose every song celebrates self-harm, inspiring his devoted fans to press knives to their own throats. The pusher who urges the addict toward one more hit, bringing him a high from which he’ll never come down. The tyrannical boss, crushing an assistant’s spirit until a bridge jump brings her low.

We call it a suicide. Tormenta call it a score, their demonic powers allowing them to siphon off the unspent lifespan of those who harm themselves.

To Bianco, being a cop is about right and wrong. Working with Lola is about this world and the next…and maybe the one after that. Because everything is about to change. The coming of a mighty Tormenta is prophesied, a dark messiah known as the Mosca.

To stop him, Bianco and Lola must fight their way through a cryptic web of secret societies and powerful legends to crack an ancient code that holds the only answer to the Mosca’s defeat. If this miscreant rises before they can unmask him, darkness will reign, and mankind will fall in a storm of suicides.

Nobody’s safe. Everyone’s a threat.

I don’t read much in Urban Fantasy, to be honest.

I think it’s because there is such a massive emphasis placed on certain things that always seem prevalent in the genre, which, unfortunately, bring it closer to Paranormal Romance. There are plenty of authors I’ve yet to read, and the ones that I have delved into (Kate Griffin, Seanan McGuire and Chuck Wendig, to name a few) have impressed me.

Urban Fantasy has to, in my opinion, succeed at the following:

1) it must be set, largely, in an urban environment. The genre isn’t Country Fantasy. 2) There must be sufficient secondary world-building to make the reader miss the urban environment, and vice versa. 3) The magic has to be interesting and different – Kate Griffin and Chuck Wendig succeed massively at this. Among, of course the other necessities, such as good character growth, and interesting plot, etc.

When I first set to reading ‘Romeo Spikes’ I struggled to get into the book – not because it was badly written (it isn’t), or because it wasn’t interesting (it is), but because it was different. It’s one of the ways that I know I’ll enjoy a book – the difficulty of the read added to the certainty that I want to read the book.

‘Romeo Spikes’ doesn’t have fairies, or fae. There’s no Celtic-feel to it, and neither does it have a Norse flavour. Joanne manages to create a world that is at once surprising as it is interesting, bringing in a Biblical-mythology layer that makes her world fresh and captivating, which allows the characters to react and change as they should in a world they don’t know much about. The exploration of the world, as a reader, was one of the highlights of the book, for sure.

Character-wise, Joanne does jump around a bit, and most of the time it works – the reader will experience different perspectives (on both sides of the novel’s central conflict), and in particular, Bianco and Lola’s character-arcs are really well-written, engaging and attention-holding, with plenty of little clues along the way that will tug and push the reader along as they wonder just where these two stand. The Tormenta are interesting creations, but that’s all I’ll say – read the book and discover them for yourself. 🙂

One aspect of the novel that tripped me up was the time-change in some of the chapters – there is very little or no warning, and I found myself having to re-read the chapter’s beginning to get my bearings again, because the plot had suddenly jumped into the past. This interrupted the novel’s otherwise great flow. But that’s my only real problem with the book. 🙂

The world-building is great, and I’m sure many other readers will be left thinking about “real” or Historical events and the cool spin Joanne put on them. The characters are all interesting and well-fleshed out, and the book’s climax is a real surprise! And what “magic” there is in the book doesn’t overwhelm or confuse. Joanne’s style has a great flow and her descriptions are crisp, colourful, atmospheric and suitably brutal (at times).

If you’re looking for Urban Fantasy that doesn’t follow the conventional rules of the Genre (which no book should do, but you know what I’m getting at) and also builds an interesting new world, then Romeo Spikes should definitely be added to your shelf. I’m looking forward to the next book! 🙂

8 / 10

LoLife_RomeoSpikes_cvr

To order copies of the book, check out the following links: Amazon US, Amazon UK, Book Depository, Exclusive Books. You can also read an excerpt from the novel here, and for more info on Joanne, check out her page on Simon and Schuster here. Don’t forget to browse Titan’s website – plenty more good reading to be had!

Until tomorrow,

Be EPIC!

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Posted by on June 18, 2014 in Uncategorized

 

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M.D. Thalmann

M.D. Thalmann, a novelist and freelance journalist with an affinity for satire and science fiction, lives in Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, children, and ornery cats, reads too much and sleeps too little.

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