by C.K. McDonnell
Series: Stranger Times #2
Publication Date: February 15, 2022
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction
Publisher: Bantam Press
Vampires do not exist. Everyone knows this. So it's particularly annoying when they start popping up around Manchester . . .
Nobody is pleased about it. Not the Founders, the secret organisation for whom vampires were invented as an allegory, nor the Folk, the magical people hidden in plain sight who only want a quiet life. And definitely not the people of Manchester, because there is nothing more irksome than being murdered by an allegory run amok. Somebody needs to sort this out fast before all Hell really breaks loose - step forward the staff of The Stranger Times.
It's not like they don't have enough to be dealing with. Assistant Editor Hannah has come back from getting messily divorced to discover that someone is trying to kidnap a member of their staff and while editor Vincent Banecroft would be delighted to see the back of any of his team, he doesn't like people touching his stuff - it's the principle of the thing.
Throw in a precarious plumbing situation, gambling debts, an entirely new way of swearing, and a certain detective inspector with what could be kindly referred to as 'a lot of baggage' and it all adds up to another hectic week in the life of the newspaper committed to reporting the truth that nobody else will touch.
Still a lot of fun, but not as enthralling as the first book, The Stranger Times. Part of that, I suspect, is that it’s hard to maintain momentum over 500 pages. The story never dragged, but it just lacked the snap the first one had.
Which makes it sounds back-handed, and I don’t mean it to; the book may have been 500 pages, but I devoured it over two days. The writing was excellent, the plot was really good – relevant, creepy in both a supernatural and natural way – and the characters continue to charm (or not) with their eccentricities. Because the story is told from multiple perspectives (3rd person always), the reader is able to connect a few dots before the Stranger gang can as they investigate why vampires are suddenly springing up all over Manchester when everyone agrees they’re the one thing that doesn’t exist, but not so much as to be frustrating – and when it all comes together, it’s all rather more appalling that I was expecting.
The author leaves plenty of scope for the third book; the editor of the paper is left hanging with a haunting message from beyond the veil, and nobody knows, or wants to know, what Stella is, except for Stella herself. And the newspaper still has no bathroom.
Lots to look forward to in the next book, unfortunately, I’ll be looking forward until sometime in 2023.