Okay y’all shit is about to get nerdy because this is the first book I’ve read in a while that gave me ALL the feels.
Today I’m talking about Daniel Jose Older whom you can read all about here. I believe, I believe I found likely via a retweet. My memory for these things is crap but, I’ve read a lot of the stuff he’s written around and recently picked up Half-Resurrection Blues.
First impression- I read some reviews citing the “excessive” cursing and I was like, yes okay. Give it to me.
Short version of this review is, this book is fucking great. You know how I talk about Grown Folks Lit all the time? This is grown folks lit. The people in this story are my people. My friends talk like them. They are people in a NYC that I could picture myself fitting right into.
This is Urban Fantasy and I could fucking SEE MYSELF THERE.
We know I’ve blogged many times about my sad fangirl feels and feeling removed from any type of fantasy most of the time because Whiteness.
Not in this book.
SO, if you are a a little Black or Brown nerd like me and you want to read some grown up very well done Urban fantasy, read it. That’s all.
NOW hold on to your butts cause I’m goin in.
So here’s the blurb as it is on Amazon:
Carlos Delacruz is one of the New York Council of the Dead’s most unusual agents—an inbetweener, partially resurrected from a death he barely recalls suffering, after a life that’s missing from his memory. He thinks he is one of a kind—until he encounters other entities walking the fine line between life and death.
Now this book takes place in a New York that I would like to visit. Frankly, it is the antithesis of what shows like Girls would have you think. It is not populated by White people who might screw a Black person every now and then but weird everyone else is white.
That is what hooked me. This is the NYC I dreamed about visiting as a kid. The kind of NYC where among your friends you can say, you are not sure if so and so is Dominican or Puerto Rican, not because you don’t know the difference, but because the person you’re talking about might look like your Dominican cousin or your Puerto Rican Mom. Those type’s of details are what makes me believe in the placement of POC in any story.
Not far into the book I was there. The way you are supposed to be when you read a really great story. I actually had to pause and let that feeling happen. It has been a while since I’ve felt that little kid sense that I am right there with Carlos’ half dead ass.
That my homies is a very important thing. It is at the heart of why I don’t read more genre fiction, I am just not there.
That was the initial fangirl squee. I already really like his work and POV and this well…..okay. Squee ensued.
The writer squee is that at the beginning of the book, we know our narrator is kinda fucked up. He’s not super halfie, he’s not all powerful. I like that. I find it too easy in a lot of urban fantasy when the supernatural critters of whatever stripe are just too good.
We know my flavor is kinda grimy and dark and this is kinda grimy. Shit goes real wrong and I deeply appreciate it.
The other thing I enjoy is that he has an excellent ear for dialogue. The dialogue in this book Code Switches on a magical level. This is not something that can be done believably if the author has not done it. It’s one of those things.
It is deeply important for readers, especially White readers to take a second and appreciate what’s going on here. This is so well done that it is seamless in terms of realness and understanding that these people are each other’s people. The language is intimate in the way that my language with my closest friends and colleagues is intimate.
Sometimes, especially in genre fiction, more so in fantasy folks want to be super stylized and fancy and that just does not always work.
Now the action and the way it is built into this world is right up my alley. We have this authoritative pain in the ass New York Council of the Dead, we have our halfie discovering some shit they did not tell him and chaos ensues.
We get that noir, who done it mystery with magic, half dead dudes, and one bad ass girl. Like I don’t want to give too much away but she, she is a Bad. Ass.
He writes women I like. They are not all the same, they are not super duper holy shit hot and everyone is thinking about doing them all the time. I appreciate that the women are diverse in bodies, temperaments etc.
Okay down the nerdhole I go.
Let us talk world building.
I have long had a love of Urban Fantasy but most of it I have ever read was White elfs in the suburbs and I’m not into that.
This is what I have needed to read both as a reader and a writer. I have had a lust to write Urban Fantasy to my own detriment. When it comes to stuff I’ve never tried before, I need to read the good shit before I can see my own path.
Daniel Jose Older gave me the good shit.
This NYC is full of Black and Brown people both dead and alive doing shit I am into. I loved the Santeros. I LOVED that the Santeros were respected and not presented just as weird Black/Brown folks witchcraft. I have seen even POC do that and it torques my heart.
The magic and sorcery and depictions of the realm of the dead were not usual and I enjoyed them very much.
Here’s the real shit.
As I mentioned last week was it, if you purchase what we can assume is Grown Folks Lit of any stripe, get yourself ready for some Grown Folks Type Shit to happen.
That might be in the form of bad words, sex, violence of whatever kind. Grown. Folks. Type. Shit.
If you can handle liberal and beautiful Fbombs, code switching and for some of y’all more Black and Brown people than you see in a week, get this book.
My POC fantasy lovers.
GO GET THIS BOOK.
Right damn now.
I have both the Ebook and the audiobook and as far as the audio goes, um. SIR HOW DARE YOU.
Y’all know I have a thing about being read to and this reading is really good. I suggest going and listening to a sample.
And buy the book.
In other news briefly.
Thank you SO much. Patreon is going way better than I expected and the single donations have been just..gosh.
Fuck. My feelings.
I will talk about it more but just thank you for sharing my thing and encouraging me to reach out.
Also probably next week I’m going to talk about the value of knowing so many other writers and maybe share some extra exciting news.
AND I’m launching a new feature soon. It shall be called: People and Stuff I like. Wherein I will share in depth review/squees about people, podcasts etc that I love. Cause I want you to love them too.
Now later taters I have spent my fangirl squeeing.