4 out of 5 stars.
This is a weird, but good one. It is urban fantasy for those that REALLY want a lot of urban in their fantasy. Most of the genre is about fantasy that is set in a city. This is a fantasy about a city itself.
The protagonist, Beth, is a graffiti artist in London. During her many city wanderings, she runs into Filius, a strange young man who sweats oil and whose skin is the colour of pavement. Fil turns out to be the prince of London’s strange underworld of fantasy creatures, each tied into the structure of London itself. There are electric creatures living in the street lamps, monks inhabiting statues, and spiders who eat words running around on the telephone wires. Fil and his subjects are set against Reach (I think it is supposed to be a manifestation of gentrification?!). Anyways, there are epic battles between Fil’s guys and Reach’s battle wolves (made of scaffolding). It is awesome.
This is very dirty and gritty. I don’t mean dirty as in lurid sex scenes, I mean this book contains a lot of descriptions of garbage. One of the characters has a body that is assembled from trash. There are rats and beetles and lice. Do not eat this while reading.
Having so many parts of a city personified is a very clever and interesting way to go. It was very enjoyable seeing what kinds of creatures Pollock could come up with and what he would make them out of. It is a very well built world that shows a lot of imagination. The characters are also unique. Fil, the obvious love interest, is kind of oily and dirty, as opposed to the sculpted adonis YA males usually turn out to be. Beth deals with her personal tragedy in her life by illegally tagging things and running around unsupervised. They really read a lot more like real teenagers than most characters do. Their relationship also develops more naturally than most. I found them both sympathetic and realistic.
This book crosses pretty close to being an adult novel instead of YA, I think it could belong in either collection fairly easily. It really reads a little differently than most YA, a little more seriously and adult. I think adults could easily relate to the characters despite their age.
Despite feeling a little nauseous at parts (I do not like bugs…) this really was original. Never has trash and graffiti been so magical. Enjoy!