Nov 22, 2009: Grungy call centre worker Jo Maguire’s life takes a turn for the surreal when she ends up at a distinctly otherworldly party, gets challenged to a duel, and becomes the guardian of a flighty and headstrong fae princess who loves hanging out in alt/music night clubs but has only the dimmest concept of how common mortals deal with chores like earning money and doing laundry. With Lady Ysabel and Jo now bound together as constant companions, Jo is plunged into the dangerous and mysterious political power games of the supernatural beings who dwell beyond the veil of ordinary perception in the city of Portland, Oregon. And Ysabel has to learn to conduct phone surveys on consumer preferences for mutual funds.
As other reviewers have noted, the style is lush, lyrical, sensual, edgy, and evocative, like a rich, dark brocade embroidered with gold thread and rare gems. As the plot deepens and more characters are introduced, it does start to jump around more and parts of the narrative become a bit of a challenge to follow. If you like your storytelling straightforward and down to earth, this might not be for you. But if you can tolerate, or even delight in, some moments of bemused befuddlement, you may willingly pay the price to cross over into the mists of this urban fairyland.
Think Samuel Delany’s style in Mercedes Lackey’s world, with an eclectic soundtrack. Or perhaps more to the point, if you enjoy the works of Cat Vallente you will probably be enchanted by Manley’s City of Roses too.
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