I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Paradox by Charlie Fletcher
Series: The Oversight #2
Published by Orbit Books on August 18th 2015
Amazon・ Good Books・Book Depository
SOMETIMES YOU LOOK IN THE MIRROR – SOMETIMES IT LOOKS BACK
Those who belong to the secret society called the Oversight know many things. They know cold iron will hold back the beasts in the darkness. They know it is dangerous to stand between two mirrors. And they know that, despite their dwindling numbers, it remains their duty to protect humanity from the supernatural. And vice versa.
But two of the society’s strongest members, Mr. Sharp and Sara Falk, are trapped in the world between the mirrors, looking for each other, searching for a way back home. What they discover there will have ominous consequences both for the Oversight and the world it protects, effects that will make them question everything they thought they knew.
The Paradox is the much anticipated sequel to Charlie Fletcher’s dark and compelling urban fantasy debut, The Oversight.
So, remember awhile back when I read this book called The Oversight and was really into it and couldn’t wait for the sequel and the awesome it would surely deliver? Well Paradox has arrived and it delivered in spades (a phrase that has never made sense to me because okay, now I have a lot of spades? but I’m using nonetheless).
Reviewing sequels is tricky because it’s hard to find new ground to cover without spoiling book one (which, fear not, I will avoid). Many of the things I loved so much about The Oversight are still true. Creepy, ominous atmosphere? Still true and then some. I remember book one being tense and creepy but The Paradox takes it a step further and throws some gruesome horror in the mix. Also present is the previously praised eloquent writing and complicated, slowly unfolding plot. It had been a long time since I’d read The Oversight and it took me a moment to get up to speed but I think it says a lot with how subtly and thoroughly Charlie Fletcher worked in details and backstory that I was able to follow along without feeling info-dumped on until the new chapters of the story took off.
The pacing is still quite slow and stately, building piece by intricate piece to an explosive conclusion, but this time featured more history and backstory for both the characters and, in a twist that delighted the ever-loving shit out of me, the villainous Slaugh (to way oversimplify, the evil orcmancreaturethings that are main arm of the supranatural menace the members of the Oversight keep at bay).
Guys, I LOVE stories that play with perspective, specifically bad-guys-who-see-themselves-as-good-guys perspective (this, obviously, does not apply to whiny, entitled fuckboys who massacre villages because luuuurve or whatever). One of the key themes The Paradox plays with is what makes a monster? At what point does history and intent justify/stop justifying your actions? It points out that, even when they’re necessary, cycles of war and violence are perpetuated by both sides and each side has their own take on things. Fletcher depicts the humanity in his monsters while never letting you totally forget they’re monsters and I loved it so, so much.
My favorite thing about The Paradox is the healthy level of respect for capabilities and deadliness of women. Given the time period these books take place in, it would be easy to have women take a back seat bc ~historical accuracy~ so I appreciate the shit out of the fact that not only does that not happen, but there’s a subtle, continuous feminist push. It has a very ‘Who killed the world? (Men)’ vibe at play. There are women bad guys but the great, overarching players on the bad guy side are rich, old, white men (aka the patriarchy).
Seriously guys, the ladies not only run this but are complex, unique people and Fletcher clearly put a lot of intention and effort into conveying that (it’s honestly so impressive how individual all these characters are because there are approximately eleventy billion of them). There is an endless parade of oh so many badass ladies in all different shapes, sizes and levels of moral ambiguity (including a teen girl figuring out her sexuality and hey, look, it is maybe not straight) and I loved the shit out of it. Also worth noting, while not actually relevant to the review but I don’t know where else to put it, Fletcher’s story in the acknowledgements of having dinner with Terry Pratchett (one of my absolute idols and, imo, one of the greatest authors to ever write for those who don’t know) and their conversation about writing strong, complex lady characters made me cry.
To conclude, if you haven’t checked out these books and have a passing interest in creepy, complicated, atmospheric horror fantasy, you are missing out and should probably rectify that ASAP.