Frostbite – Joshua Bader

This was another big surprise, all the bigger for its being a very pleasant surprise. This was one of those books I regretted requesting almost as soon as it was too late, partly because I had (as always) such a backlog, and partly, quite honestly, because it was not apparently traditionally published.

It didn’t take long, though, to discover that (despite a scattering of typos and editorial errors which hopefully got picked up) the writing was good. (I sincerely hope the homonym problems and so on got fixed, because the story deserves better.) This is another example of how storytelling ought to be done. Colin Fisher has a dark cloud of bad luck hovering over his head, but the details are not divulged all at once – they’re doled out effectively over the course of the book, as he decides to stop running from the cloud and take advantage of a dubious (but very lucrative) opportunity. The danger in the story feels very real; with a first-person narrator there’s obviously a 99.7% chance that that character at least is going to survive a book, but there’s a whole lot of pain between fine and dead, and it seems consistently probably that Colin is going to suffer. Terrible things happen – and it is very much in doubt whether or not Colin will be able to stop them. He’s good at what he does, his own unique brand of magic – but he’s outnumbered.

Not only terrible things happen – funny things do too, and, happily, they actually are funny. There’s a good balance of humor and terror – similar, as others have pointed out, to Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files – but it doesn’t try to be a carbon copy of Butcher or anyone else. It’s a well-realized world that Colin inhabits, beautifully detailed and absolutely believable, with a terrific cast of characters, human and otherwise. This is the beginning of a series – and I’m looking forward to seeing where it goes.

The usual disclaimer: I received this book via Netgalley for review.

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