The Road to Bedlam by Mike Shevdon

August 9, 2010

Please note if you haven’t read Sixty One Nails, and I strongly suggest you do, there are some mild spoilers in this review.

It’s not often that I pick up book by an untested author. I’ve made this mistake in the past and ended up reading some less than stellar fiction. Fortunately, the last time this happened I was lucky.  I was in a bookshop in London and I found myself purchasing Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon. I was on holiday and needed to select a third book to take advantage of the bookshops generous 3 for 2 offer. On an impulse based purely on the cover design, and blurb on the back, I made my purchase.

A couple of weeks later I started reading the book and I was slowly drawn in. I didn’t know what to expect and was more than pleasantly surprised. Sixty One Nails is an excellent example of urban fantasy. While having a suspected heart attack on the London Underground Niall Petersen is saved by a mysterious woman calling herself Blackbird. Following their encounter, Blackbird introduces Niall to the secret world of Feyre where he learns that he is part Fey and able to control a powerful force called Gallowfyre.

I was given the opportunity to read an electronic advance review copy of the next book in the series by the publishers, Angry Robot Books.  The sequel, The Road to Bedlam, picks up a few months after the events of Sixty One Nails. Niall is training to be a Warder (think policeman) for the seven courts of the Feyre and Blackbird is pregnant with their child. They are living happily together while Niall continues to explore the aspects of his Fey heritage. Unexpected tragedy strikes close to home and Niall is torn between family and his obligations to the Seven Courts.

The whole story is great but the first two chapters are a real roller-coaster and had me hooked immediately. I’m always pleased when an author manages to write something that leaves me stunned. Without giving too much away, there is a funeral for one of the characters. This whole sequence was quite evocative, moving and wonderfully written. The actions and reactions of all the characters are pitch perfect and very believable.

The interactions between the members of the Seventh Court and our world are what drive the narrative forward.   As the story continues the reader gets an opportunity to learn more of the Seventh Court, the Untainted, a branch of the Fey that have been exiled from our world for hundreds of years. They stand apart from the six other courts due to their hatred of half breeds like Niall.

There is also some insight into the Warders and how they function. Niall is sent on his first mission as a Warder, and this acts as a nice subplot to the main story. I would love to learn more about the Warders in the next book. The author hints that there is more to tell regarding how Garvin, the Warders leader, came to be where he is now and I would really like to know.

I have to admit that Sixty One Nails caught me by surprise. I didn’t expect to be so won over by it. As I said earlier it was purchased on impulse and was from an unknown author. With The Road to Bedlam I expected something great and I wasn’t disappointed. It’s fantastic to see an author finding his stride and start to really flex his creative muscles. I’ll certainly be buying book 3. I’m already looking forward to it.

The Road to Bedlam is due for release in the UK at the beginning of September.

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