Desdaemona by Ben Macallan
Soalris. Oxford:England, 2011. (9781907519628).
Ben Macallan wrote an exceptional series opener, I hope, with his book Desdaemona. For both profit and empathy as he is a street-kid pursued by the supernatural himself, the protagonist, Jordan, finds and sends home when possible, the lost kids who are, almost exclusively, on the run from the supernatural of some kind. Jordan is a sort of Peter Pan figure, an endless teenager forever poised on his adulthood. No worries, his past is eventually explained and the pacing is just right– no plot killing info-dumps or mystery drawn out too long.
In order to prevent spoilers, I have to be fairly light on the plot details. Suffice it to say, the plot is well-balanced and not predictable but does not contain loopholes or twists that irritate. The novel is set within the framework of his meeting a woman, Desdaemona, looking for her sister. A Daemon, a person who indentures themselves for a specific time to a power in the supernatural hierarchy in order to gain skills and abilities beyond mortal, she pursues Jordan and ensures his help through seduction and friendship.
The details of her sister’s escape are interspersed with tantalizing glimpses of Jordan’s own mysterious past. His past converges with Desdaemona’s present and creates a wild read with a fantastic plot, exhilarating action, and well-developed characters who straddle the gray nicely. There are no stereotypes in this novel and almost all the characters have a good and a bad side.
The family relationships, romances, and complicated characters make this novel stand-out. There are no easy answers and no pure path. These people deal with life as it is with little naiveté or innocence to buffer them. That is not to say that they are without sympathy, mercy, or love; in fact, watching them develop relationships despite the cynicism, fear, and caution makes them compelling.
The world building and supernatural mythology is unique, believable, and addictive while Macallan’s writing is top-notch. If you are a fan of Urban fantasy, especially Rob Thurman and Jim Butcher, buy this book.