The Shambling Guide to New York City – Review

ShamblingGuideAuthor: Mur Lafferty
Series: The Shambling Guides #1
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Orbit
Date: January 2013
Source: Own copy
Buy the BookGoodreads

Zoe’s last job was a train wreck. She’s back in her home town of New York City, desperate for a new start, but running out of cash fast.

So when she finds an ad for a seemingly-perfect job as a travel guide editor, she’s not going to let the excuse that ‘she’s not the right type for the job’ and ‘wouldn’t fit in with the team’ stand in her way. Sheer determination wins her an interview in a dilapidated theatre and dinner with her potential new boss.

It turns out the job is to write a guide book for New York’s visiting monster population. The boss is a vampire, and the payroll includes zombies, an incubus and a death goddess. Zoe has to come to terms with the existence of another world, hidden in plain sight in her city, and learn to deal with her new co-workers often-disturbing feeding habits. When the balance between humans and coterie (monster is an offensive term) starts falling apart, Zoe is caught in the crossfire.

The Shambling Guide to New York City is an absolutely delightful almost-debut from RPG writer, Escape Pod editor and podcaster extraordinaire Mur Lafferty, whose career I’ve been following for some time. This is not her first published work (she has self-published the Heaven series through Kickstarter and her novel Playing For Keeps came out from Swarm Press in 2008) but it is her best yet.

She presents us with a rich supernatural underground to New York City, full of hilarious anecdotes and smart tweaks to reality (the MoMA’s closed galleries are really hired out by visiting demons who are too big to fit in human-sized hotels) told through excerpts from the book Zoe is writing. As a protagonist, Zoe is made even more likeable because she shows real strength of character, even as she has to accept her weaknesses in dealing with an overwhelming situation.

After her engrossing and thought-provoking novella Marco and the Red Granny, Lafferty gives us another kick-ass elderly woman to love and cheer on in the hilarious and irreverent Granny Good Mae. The rest of the varied cast of characters is also handled perfectly so that the reader even likes the brain-eating zombies. This is also a very funny book, Lafferty’s humorous touch is spot-on throughout and her dry observations on the human or coterie conditions made me snort out loud several times.

In short, I can’t wait for the second instalment in this series, The Ghost Train to New Orleans, and you should all go read The Shambling Guide to New York City, out in UK and US bookshops now. You can also go to Mur’s website to listen to a chapter of the audiobook for free every week.


Introducing Many A True Nerd

As if life weren’t busy or exciting enough lately, I’ve just started work on a new awesome (and time-consuming!) project.

I’d been wanting to write about a whole host of geeky things for a while, but couldn’t find a home for my writing. There are many awesome geeky news sites out there, but the ones I liked & thought I had a shot writing for didn’t really focus on the subjects I wanted to cover.

Some would have TV and games, but not crafts and baking; some would have geeky things for the home but not boardgames; some would have books but nothing else, etc.

Add to that the fact that I know so many talented and nerdy writers, and an idea started to form. I’m obsessed with creating and maintaining websites, and I’m also a proud grammar pedant. In fact I’ve been editing @AlastairJRBall online serial The First 500 for some months now and I love doing that. I thought, if there isn’t a platform exactly like I want, I should just create it.

I could start a new site, dedicated to the type of geek news me and my friends are interested in. That could mean basically anything. Really silly or really in-depth things, from gifs to interviews, from reviews to let’s plays, from opinion pieces to recipes, in any and all fandom. I’ve heard too much crap about who is a ‘real nerd’ or a ‘fake geek’. I don’t think these distinctions are helpful or based in much truth. The geek world I know is varied and fascinating and that’s what I wanted to explore with this new site.

When I started telling my friends about this idea, they rose to the occasion even better than I had hoped. Jon wanted to try out new online marketing strategies and make Let’s Plays; @AlastairJRBall wanted to write about cinema, @NickMB about comics; @LorelaiSquared had just done awesome interviews of the Welcome To Sanditon cast and crew; @Jenepel wanted to help with a potential podcast.

I’m so, so excited to add another little brick to the big, bad interwebs, in the shape of our new online magazine, Many A True Nerd. Please check out the website, twitter feed and the YouTube channel and do all the like-comment-subscribe-follow thinggies if you do like it.

We are also looking for new writers, so if you are interested in writing for Many A True Nerd, email us at manyatruenerd [at] gmail [dot] com.