Ari Marmell's Hallow Point was published by Titan Books in August 2015.
Information about Ari Marmell:
Ari Marmell is a fantasy writer with novels and short stories published through Spectra (Random House), Pyr, Wizards of the Coast, and others. He is the author of role-playing game materials for Dungeons & Dragons and the World of Darkness line, as well as the tie-in novel to the hit video game Darksiders. He lives in Austin, Texas with his wife, George.
Click here to visit the author's official website.
Information about Hallow Point:
Mick Oberon may look like just another 1930s private detective, but beneath the fedora and the overcoat, he's got pointy ears and he's packing a wand. The Spear of Lugh is in Chicago. And everyone, everyone wants it, for it is said that he who carries the spear into battle cannot be defeated. Those chasing it include an agent of the infamous Wild Hunt; a mobster who knows far more about these things than he should; and of course both the Seelie and Unseelie Courts - the very last people PI Mick Oberon would want getting hold of the spear...
A REVIEW OF ARI MARMELL'S HALLOW POINT
Ari Marmell's Hallow Point is the second novel in the Mick Oberon series. Although it's a sequel to Hold Lead, Cold Iron, it can be read as a standalone novel. I haven't personally had a chance to read the first novel yet, so this review is based solely on this novel.
Before I write more about this novel and its contents, I'll mention that I'm not a big fan of contemporary urban fantasy novels, because I've often been more or less disappointed with their quality (far too many urban fantasy novels tend to be of low quality or contain too many paranormal romance elements for my taste). Fortunately, every once in a while I've come across a few urban fantasy novels that are genuinely entertaining and deserve to be read by fantasy readers. Ari Marmell's Hallow Point is one of these good novels, because it's irresistibly entertaining and offers wonderful escapism to readers who enjoy urban fantasy.
Hallow Point is excellent entertainment, because it's a cross-genre novel with elements of detective fiction, hardboiled crime fiction, pulp fiction and urban fantasy. It will be of special interest to readers who are familiar with Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files series, but it will also attract the attention of those who have read novels by Ben Aaronovitch, Tim Marquitz and other similar kind of authors. I also think that fans of crime fiction and pulp fiction will enjoy it.
Here's information about the story:
- The events take place in the 1930s Chicago. The author uses the first-person narrative mode to tell the story.
- Mick Oberon's friend, Pete, needs Mick's help on a case, because there has been a mysterious break-in at the museum of natural history. Mick finds out that a spear has been left in the museum and taken away without any kind of explanation.
- When Mick investigates things, he runs into Herne the Hunter who's connected to the Wild Hunt. Herne is looking for something and asks Mick if he has "it", but Mick doesn't know what Herne means by his question. A bit later Mick learns that Herne is not the only one who's interested in "it", because the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court are also looking for "it".
- Soon Mick finds out that everybody is looking for an enchanted spear, the Spear of Lugh, which makes its bearer invincible in the battle. He finds himself caught between different factions who want to find the spear...
This is the beginning of a highly entertaining and satisfyingly gritty story for adults.
Characterisation works well, because Mick Oberon is an intriguing protagonist. He is a private detective who could easily be mistaken for a classic private detective from the 1930s, because he wears a fedora and an overcoat. However, he's much more than a normal private detective, because he has pointy ears and a wand. He's a member of the aes sidhe and a former Seelie Court prince. He has his own mysterious past that he likes to keep hidden.
One of the most interesting things about Mick is that he doesn't like machines, because they make his head hurt. He also has interesting opinions about certain things and persons.
In this novel, Mick has quite a lot on his hands, because has to deal with all kinds of things, including the Seelie Court and the Unseelie Court. He also has dealings with mobsters. His life becomes complicated and challenging when he finds himself balancing between different factions who are looking for the magical and powerful spear.
The other characters are also interesting and vividly portrayed characters. For example, reading about Queen Mob (aka Lady Eudeagh, Boss Eudeagh) is very entertaining. Queen Mob is a fascinating character, because she is the leader of the Chicago Unseelie.
It's great that the events take place in the 1930s Chicago, because many urban fantasy novels feature modern settings. This kind of a setting is perfect for a detective story that has been blended with urban fantasy, because it evokes a nostalgic spirit of an age gone by when the world was different and moved slower. The author's way of using old slang and phrases that were used in the 1930s deepens the atmosphere in a nice way and adds style to the story (he uses such words as "flivver" for an automobile and "gink" for a man etc).
The author manages to get the historical atmosphere, tone and attitude of the 1930s Chicago right. Everything feels believable and you can almost feel the atmosphere of the old world when you read the story. Because the old Chicago is known for different kinds of crimes and mobsters, the inclusion of these elements adds a nice touch of style and freshness to the story. In my opinion, Ari Marmell writes surprisingly well about these elements.
Ari Marmell's bold decision to blend detective fiction and noir fiction with faeries and supernatural elements works perfectly, because it gives the rundown genre invigorating freshness. In his capable hands, detective fiction and fantasy elements blend seamlessly into a fast-paced and deliciously gritty story that both entertains and thrills the reader in equal measure. He manages to catch the reader's attention immediately, because he drops the reader in the middle of the happenings and then begins to move the story forward at a brisk pace and spices it with a few well-placed surprises.
Ari Marmell has created an entertaining story that is refreshingly different from other contemporary urban fantasy novels. There are many familiar elements in this novel, but the author's way of writing about them feels fresh, because he avoids using the most typical clichés associated with urban fantasy. He has his own vision of the world and he makes it come alive with his fluent and effortless descriptions of the happenings.
The author's sense of style and use of noir elements is admirable. I've often found myself being annoyed when authors have tried to add noir elements to their stories, but in this case I was amazed at the author's ability to write noir fiction. He seems to have understood what noir means and how it must be used to attract readers.
I think that most readers, who are familiar with crime fiction and noir fiction, are aware of the fact that femme fatales and damsels in distress are often found in both genres. This novel also features a lady in distress, because Miss Ramona Webb needs Mick's services as a private investigator. The author handles this issue well and it's genuinely interesting to read about what happens to them and what is revealed about Ramona.
One of the things that I've found fascinating in well written urban fantasy novels is that certain authors seem to be enthusiastic about mythology and like to add mythological elements to their novels. I noticed that Ari Marmell is one of these authors, because he writes intriguingly about the Spear of Lugh, the Wild Hunt and things related to the Fae.
If there are readers out there who are not familiar with the mythological deity Lugh, I'll write a few words about him, because the Spear of Lugh is an important part of the story. Lugh is an Irish deity and he is presented in mythological texts as a hero and a High King of the distant past. He is known for his skill with a spear.
References to the Wild Hunt are also intriguing, because the author writes well about it. There are probably many readers who are not aware of what the Wild Hunt is, so here are a few words about the Wild Hunt to those who are not familiar with it. The Wild Hunt is an ancient folk myth about a phantasmal or spectral group of huntsmen who are either dead or faeries.
It's nice that the author knows how to use humour in a good and entertaining way. The dialogues between Mick and the other characters are good and some of them include sharp and stinging humour. Some of the sentences and expressions are so amusing that you may find yourself chuckling when you read the story.
I'm not sure if other readers will agree with me on this, but in my opinion Ari Marmell's Hallow Point feels a bit like a combination of noir crime novels, pulp fiction and Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files with a tiny dash of the glamour and harshness found in HBO's Boardwalk Empire.
The two sections at the end of this novel ("The Fae Pronunciation Guide" and "Mobsters in Chicago") offer interesting and useful information to readers. They're worth reading.
Hallow Point was a pleasant reading experience for me. I don't normally read this kind of novels, but this novel impressed me. I enjoyed it so much that I intend to take a look at the first novel (Hot Lead, Cold Iron) in the near future to find out more about Mick Oberon and his life, because I'd like to have a bit more clarity on certain things.
If you're a fan or urban fantasy and wonder if this novel is worth reading, I can say that it's definitely worth reading. It's among the best urban fantasy novel I've ever read, because it's something a bit different and it's very entertaining. I give it strong four stars on the scale from one to five stars.
Ari Marmell's Hallow Point is an entertaining combination of different elements ranging from detective fiction to urban fantasy. It's a thrilling cross-genre novel that will be of interest to readers who want to be entertained by a good and gritty detective story with an interesting and well-portrayed protagonist.
Good, well written and interesting urban fantasy entertainment!