The Gutter Prayer is Cari’s story. A thief who’s led an itinerant life, roaming the seas and living by her wits. She recently returned home to the City and has taken up with an unlikely pair of compatriots, Rat, a ghoul, and Spar a stone man afflicted with a plague that is slowly calcifying his body. When a job goes horribly wrong and two of them are captured, Cari begins to suffer from strange visions as a plot that imperils the city begins to unfold. Power hungry alchemists, a conniving thieves’ guild, and terrifying underworld powers all converge, hoping to control Cari’s strange new gift and use it to seize control of the City.
There are few editing snafus that make for stilted moments. At one point, Cari fires a gun, then in the next scene the narrator states point blank that she is firing a gun for the first time in her life(again?). Later, as Rat is robbing a moored ship, he is referred to as Spar, which creates confusion as to who is present at the heist. There are a few spots with missing prepositions or pronouns. All in all, not too big of a deal, but hopefully something that will be cleaned up by the next printing.
The writing in this book is great, the descriptions paint a vivid picture of a city teeming with complexity, with history. The author’s voice is distinct and fluid, and the storytelling as a whole is well-structured and moves at a good clip despite the hefty 500+ page count. More than anything, the imagination that has cooked up a city that is rife with nuance and creative embellishment makes this novel come alive. The magic is an accretion of many types of sorcery and wonder, just as the ancient city has piled one era on top of another to build something that is complex and believable.
I adored this book. It was the most enjoyable reading experience I’ve had in quite some time, and I’ve been on a roll, reading a lot of good books lately. I’d love to gush about all the cool twists and turns but I don’t want to spoil this for you. The Gutter Prayer is a debut that is rightly turning heads, it is populated by memorable characters that dwell in a vivid and flat out cool setting. I just loved this book and I hope other people will have the opportunity to fall in love too.