#SPFBO 8 Finalist Friday: Review for Mysterious Ways by Abbie Evans


What is SPFBO 8 Check out Mark Lawrence’s post here to look at this year’s entrants, judges and allocations list.

This year I am teaming up again with the ladies from The Critiquing Chemist.  We recently announced our finalist. To check out all the Finalists simply follow this link.

Our finalist this year was Miss Percy’s Pocket Guide to the Care and Feeding of British Dragons by Quenby Olson – if you haven’t read it – I highly recommend it – seriously, grab yourself a copy and tuck in. It’s positively delightful.

Today is our fourth finalist review for #SPFBO 8.  Reviews for Scales and Sensibility, The Thirteenth Hour and Tethered Spirits  can be found here , here and here. Myself and the Critiquing Chemist will be posting a finalist review every Friday for the remainder of the competition.

So, to my fourth review, this week for a book that I positively raced through.  This was an easy and entertaining story that I practically wolfed down in two sittings.

Mysterious Ways

I will preface this review by saying this is a very light, fun at times and easy read and at the time I picked this one up it was exactly what I needed just when I needed it.  I don’t think Mysterious Ways is going to rock the literary world but in terms of an entertaining story set in a world where angels and demons have been reimagined in a most contrary style, this one kept me hooked and I can genuinely say I simply enjoyed this.

As the story begins we meet Isabella Varselak, Commander of the Solistopian City Watch, as she seems to find herself in something of an embarrassing predicament. Lured by the thoughts of a most delicious hunk of cheese whilst chasing a well known con artist, she appears to be caught in an elaborate mouse trap (fortunately not one that was intended to kill more to embarrass the commander and have a little fun at her expense).  Basically, this opening scene is not only a good indication of the tone you can expect throughout the book (although there are occasions when things become decidedly darker), but it also acts as the catalyst for a journey of self discovery for Isabella.

Isabella has been Commander for a good number of years, she works hard, follows instructions and pretty much believes in the justice system, but for a little while now she’s wanted to perform more stringent investigations before sending those accused of wrongdoing to stand before the Judge.

I’m not going to go overboard in describing the world here.  We have heaven and hell with all their convoluted dimensions, then we have the human playing field, a place where demons and angels can visit or exist providing they live in harmony and stick to the rules.  The society is matriarchal, women being placed in positions of power.  It’s very much a ‘brains’ versus ‘brawn’ type scenario, men being believed to act too irrationally when their tempers flare.  To be honest, it’s all a little hastily drawn but providing you don’t try to overthink it the world is easy enough to imagine. What I really liked was the kind of role  reversal in certain respects between the angels and demons.  The angels, curse, have sex and love to take part in all sorts of sensory pleasures, the demons on the other hand are gloomy, abhor (mostly) any sort of physical contact and seem to take little, or no pleasure, in virtually anything.

There is a discussion raised here about idealism.  Isabella is about to have her eyes opened and be shown that not everyone is equal in her world.  Crimes are sometimes far too easily ‘solved’ with little or no depth of investigation or trial and the system of judging whether a person is innocent or guilty is deeply flawed.  When Isabella begins to question the system her concerns are brushed under the carpet and she eventually takes drastic action to try and redress her mistakes of the past.

In order to go on this journey of self discovery Isabella needs to put her trust in someone else.  Cerys is the con artist who has been leading Isabella a merry dance, but she knows hell, she knows how to get into it’s fiery dimensions and  more than that she seems to have developed a friendship with Satan herself. Can Isabella really trust Cerys – well, I couldn’t possibly say,

In a nutshell, this was a breeze to read.  I liked the characters, the relationships and the dialogue.  I enjoyed the ‘turned on its head’ world and I found the plot easily entertaining.

In terms of criticisms. this could use a little finessing.  Some of the elements are a little heavy handed and certainly you need to suspend your questions and not try to delve too deeply.  But, it is fun and I enjoyed it.

I received a copy courtesy of the author, for which my thanks.  The above is my own opinion.

My rating is 7.5 out of 10

Don’t forget to check out the Critiquing Chemist’s review which can be found here.

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