Ghost Electricity (Hawthorn House #1)

Write on: Sun, 23 Sep 2018 by  in SPFBO 2018 1 comment Read 3821

My first official SPFBO review! As a guest judge this year, and one of six, my task is to read and review five of Booknest's batch of thirty books (no ratings), and forward my pick of the lot as a semifinalist. If all of them are as good as the first one I've read, Ghost Electricity by Sean Cunningham, I've got my work cut out for me. This could be a tough decision. 

Ghost Electricity is easily one of the best urban fantasy books I've ever read, and that's saying something since I've read a whole lot and love so few. As far as story and feel goes, think Simon Green's Nightside meets Dr. Who, with a heavy dose of Hellboy and maybe even The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. It's got all the pacing, fun and humor of Shayne Silver's Nate Temple series, (funnier, actually, and better written, without all the ogling of physiques and knee-slapping man-laughs), with the weight of the later books in The Dresden Files, and then some. Now that I'm thinking about it, it has a sense of Clive Barker as well.

Ghost is more of an ensemble piece, though, with multiple protagonists, each very different and with distinct abilities, and all fully fleshed-out and extremely intriguing. There's a desultory young woman with a monster-guardian living in her shadow, her precocious ten year old sister who's a whiz with weird science and invents magical gadgets (including a guard drone that fires deadly flechettes at intruding vampires), her companions, a sentient robot tortoise and a glass raven that can fly between dimensions. There's a working class shape-shifter with hunger issues, a young wizard outcast, and a vampire bad-girl who may not be so bad after all. Each get pretty much equal screen time, but somehow Cunningham weaves them together in a story that is exciting, fast-paced, intriguing and incredibly unique.

Throw this unlikely bunch together against bad guys the likes of vampires, werewolves, truly bizarre demons, an incredibly ancient real vampire, corporate tycoons with sinister plans, and eldritch horrors from beyond space and time, put them in a London where the supernatural exists just below the surface of everyday existence, and set them on a race against time to stop any number of terrible things from happening, and you've got a hell of an adventure.

I realize much of that may sound like quite a few things you've already read, but take my word for it, it isn't. Cunningham's style, narrative invention, and ability to layer in a dozen levels of action and mystery make for an extremely readable story that is both exceptional and thrilling. I also cared about what happens to these characters, and that's honestly not the case for most of even my favorite urban fantasy reads. The main storyline alone would have made for a great book, but Cunningham weaves in a variety of interesting subplots, as well as multiple greater series arcs, that give Ghost Electricity much more depth and breadth than nearly every other UF book I've read.

The second book in the series, The Mortal Edge, is already out, and you'd better believe I'll shove it in my eye-holes as soon as I get the chance.

Next up for me, Orconomics by J. Zachary Pike. I've heard it's excellent. As I said, I may have my work cut out for me...

Last modified on Sunday, 23 September 2018 16:19
Dyrk Ashton

Dyrk Ashton is a Midwestern U.S. boy who spent some time in Hollywood. He teaches film, geeks out on movies and books, and writes about regular folks and their trouble with monsters. Author of The Paternus Trilogy, of which book one, Paternus: Rise of Gods, placed third out of 300 entries in Mark Lawrence's SPFBO 2016.

1 comment

  • Brian Cunningham Brian Cunningham commented on Sep 23, 2018 Comment Link

    G’day Dyrk
    Thank you for the great review you have written about Sean’s (my eldest son’s) first published novel.
    I have been a Western genre tragic since receiving a paperback novel about two Texans called Larry and Stretch along with my ration resupply in the jungles of Vietnam back in 1968.
    So, it was with some trepidation that I started to read Ghost Electricity which you have labeled Urban Fantasy.
    As it turned out, I was hooked from Page One.
    The action started straight away, and Sean has an ability to describe the location of each scene so that you feel like you are actually there.
    Sean wanted to see a bit of the world, so he left our family home on the Gold Coast in sunny Queensland to work in London for two years: that was fifteen years ago. Sean loves living in London. No doubt, he has walked on all the streets and Tube Stations that he describes so well in his book.
    I have also read and enjoyed Sean’s second book, The Mortal Edge.
    If Sean’s books are ever made into a Netflix series, I predict a worldwide shortage of tomato sauce.
    Regards Brian Cunningham (Sean’s proud Dad)

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