(Disclaimer: English is my second language, so I want to apologize in advance for there may be mistakes in the text below. If you find any, please let me know so that I can correct it. I'd really appreciate it. Thanks.)
Review Soundtrack: I suggest reading this review while listening to Goodbye Horses, by Q Lazzarus (Spotify, YouTube).
It's been a while since I last devoted a post to reviewing novellas. But it doesn't mean that I have not been reading any. On the contrary, I have so many I want to talk about that I will reviewing four today and another three later this month. Are you ready?
My first selection is also the one that was the most disappointing: Down and Out in Purgatory, by Tim Powers. I had great expectations with this novella and I am afraid that I can't recommend it. The start was quite interesting and I did really like things like the topology of Purgatory and the way the dead communicate with the living. But after that, the plot seems to stop making that much sense and I quickly lost all my interest in finding out what was going to happen to the protagonist. As I mentioned, quite a disappointment.
I did like The Ghoul King, by Guy Haley, much more. This is the second instalment of the Dreaming Cities series, whose first volume, The Emperor's Railroad, I reviewed earlier this year. In that occasion, I said that I wanted to wait to read the sequel because I was really intrigued by the final part of the novella. And I must say that the potential of the story is beginning to explode fully in this second part. The plot has definitely changed for the better, with new science fiction elements that makes it more interesting and original. The next novella has not been announced yet, but it is one that I will surely be reading as soon as I can get it.
City of Wolves, by Willow Palecek, has an interesting worldbuilding and shows a lot of promise if, as it seems, this is just the first instalment in a series. Roughly speaking, the novella is a detective story in a world where werevolves are real. Alexander Drake must investigate a strange murder in what constitutes a fairly intriguing and interesting story. However, the writing is a bit bland, with a worldbuilding that is too schematic and a somewhat thin atmosphere. City of Wolves is entertaining enough, but it does not fully realize the potential of the ideas and the characters. I hope there is a sequel in which these problems are taken into account.
Finally, Nightshades by Melissa F. Olson, is the novella that I enjoyed the most of the four I am writing about today, and one that I highly recommend. It is similar to City of Wolves in that it is also a detective story with supernatural elements, but Olson's prose and tone worked much better for than Palecek's. Nightshades can be briefly described as Silence of the Lambs with vampires, and, in fact, the author clearly acknowledges that influence early in the story. The novella is far from perfect (in fact, I is a bit of a guilty pleasure somehow), but it kept me reading page after page and I am really looking forward to the next in the series.
All in all, of these four novellas I highly recommend Nightshades and you will want to check The Ghoul King if you liked The Emperor's Railroad. I'd also keep an eye on Palecek's work, for it shows potential and, sadly, I'd recommend giving Down and Out in Purgatory a pass. Oh, and stay tuned in: more reviews of novellas coming soon!