In the humorous adventure novel, The Shambling Guide to New York City, Mur Lafferty (@mightymur) shows us that the publishing business can be murder. Zoë is an accomplished writer, fleeing a scandal in her hometown to make a new life for herself in New York City. However, when she takes a job as managing editor for a publishing company run by monsters, will she survive AND make her deadline on time?
This was a fun read. The main character, Zoë, is hired into Underground Publishing, a publishing company that wants to create a series of travel guides for monsters. As the only human on staff, Zoë must work everyday alongside coworkers who see her as food. Yet the money’s good and she can’t pass up the adventure, no matter how stressful the circumstances. Part of her job includes learning about the monster world, in order to better appeal to her audience and get along with her coworkers.
Mur Lafferty has created an intriguing world where monsters or ‘coterie’ coexist alongside humans without their knowledge, or at least with all but a few knowing of their existence. There are constant surprises about the ‘coterie’ lifestyle as the common mythologies of these creatures get tweaked to fit modern times. We learn where they live, eat, work, and what they do for entertainment. In addition to Zoë’s personal experiences, chapters are prefaced by short excerpts from the Shambling Guide, which gives readers another reference from which to learn about the exotic creatures of this world.
The main character is a strong woman, someone far from perfect who makes mistakes and is willing to face them head on. The coterie she meets and works with along the way are a mix of good and bad, male and female, and give an interesting assortment of species and gender roles. Strong females are the norm in this world, not the exception.
The book contains some profanity, as well as an intense and explicit sex scene that would make this story unsuitable for younger readers. Adults will find these instances to be somewhat sparse, yet appropriate to the situations and characters involved. The plot is constantly thickening.
I sped through most of this novel, eager to find out what would happen next. How would Zoë deal with the next mind-blowing concept in her world? If you have a taste for the supernatural, with a healthy dose of humor and philosophy, The Shambling Guide to New York City might be just what you’re looking for.