A fictional private investigator becomes drawn into his own author’s world in this novel.
Detroit author Calista Amberson has written 20 novels in the Raven Tales series. Her protagonist, paranormal private eye Bram Farrell, has been awaiting the next book from his fictional realm and even checks in on Calie through a portal in her muse’s office. One fateful night, the novelist, who’s also a witch, summons 43 moon goddesses. She then pulls Bram from his fictional Detroit into her real city, where he experiences a sensory overload. He also notices that Calie has a persistent cough. This is her late-stage cancer. While in the real world, Bram must find a talented young woman to continue writing his adventures when Calie is gone. But first, he explores Detroit with Beelzebub, a dachshund-shaped hellhound. In a rough, vampire-ruled neighborhood, he’s saved during a brawl by the succubi Kitsune, Doe, and Neko. On behalf of the supernatural community, Doe wonders “what The Raven’s appearance at this point in time foreshadows.” With Calie and her coven’s motives for bringing Bram into reality not quite trustworthy, the succubi task him with learning more, including whether or not the witches are responsible for the various nonhuman deaths that mirror the plots of the Raven Tales novels. In this first installment of a meta urban fantasy, Dane (Getting Rid of Murray, 2018, etc.) slathers on the silliness, thick and often. Readers learn, for example, that Bram “didn’t look anything like the guy pictured on the cover of any of the books. Sorta disappointed at that—he was a good-lookin’ guy.” Memorable characters aid and abet this agile narrative, like Ralph, the troll, and Samael, the devil himself. As Bram discovers connections between “real world” victims and Calie’s plots, readers become archaeologists among the layers of fiction. And Dane’s imagination leaves no doubt that the murdered yeti from Raven Tales Volume 19 would prove a captivating case—if readers could actually get their hands on it. Fabulous in its own right is the way Bram takes the reigns of identity from his author and solidifies this fresh concept for further escapades.
Urban fantasy fans should savor this confident series opener that questions the writer-character relationship.