Tim Lebbon's Relics was published by Titan Books in March 2017.
Information about Tim Lebbon:
Tim Lebbon is the New York Times bestselling author of the movie novelizations of 30 Days of Night and The Cabin in the Woods. He has also written many critically acclaimed horror and dark fantasy novels. Tim has won three British Fantasy Awards, a Bram Stoker Award, a Shocker, a Tombstone and been a finalist for the International Horror Guild and World Fantasy Awards.
Click here to visit his official website.
Information about Relics:
Beneath the surface of our world, mythological creatures still exist - people pay fortunes for a sliver of dragon bone, an angel’s wing. Angela Gough is a criminology student whose fiancé Vince disappears. Her investigation leads her into a black market of arcane relics. Mary Rock is a criminal who also wants to find Vince, to kill him. Angela and her team must stop this horrific trade, yet they face a growing menace as the creatures begin to fight back.
A REVIEW OF TIM LEBBON'S RELICS
Tim Lebbon's Relics is an exciting reading experience for everyone who wants to read an excellent urban fantasy novel, because the author successfully combines various elements and delivers a gripping story. It's the first novel in a trilogy that promises to be an exceptionally thrilling reading experience.
Because I've been a fan of Tim Lebbon's fiction ever since I first read his gripping short story collection As the Sun Goes Down, I was eager to read Relics. I had a feeling that it might be something different and I was correct. I found it fascinating, because it's a fresh combination of urban fantasy, crime fiction, thriller fiction and horror fiction. To be precise, the best way to classify this novel is to say that it's a dark urban fantasy novel with crime elements.
Before I write more about this novel, I'll mention that I have a kind of a love-hate relationship with modern urban fantasy fiction. I love well written urban fantasy, but I've noticed that most authors seem to be content with delivering boring and stale novels that repeat what has been written before by other authors and - what's worst - far too many authors spice up their novels with meaningless love stories and paranormal romance elements. Because I have high standards when it comes to urban fantasy, I was pleased to notice that Relics stands out among other novels of its kind by being a refreshingly dark and hardboiled take on urban fantasy - it's a no-holds-barred feast of dark urban fantasy fiction for adult readers.
Here's a bit of information about the story:
- In the prologue, Angela is being interviewed by Detective Inspector Volk about murders. Angela is tight-lipped about what has happened and doesn't reveal anything.
- Angela lives with her boyfriend, Vince, and loves him very much. Because they keep in touch with each other by sending messages during the day, she becomes worried when she doesn't get any messages from Vince. She tries to convince herself that there could be a totally rational explanation for the lack of messages, but she becomes increasingly worried. Then she finds a brief and strange note that has been left by Vince. The note feels final, but Angela doesn't believe that Vince could've simply left her.
- Angela begins to investigate Vince's disappearance. Her investigations lead her to Fat Frederick Meloy, who is the owner of a club called The Slaughterhouse. She finds out that Mr. Meloy is also looking for Vince. Mr. Meloy tells her about his passion and shows her incredible things - relics - that he has collected. She also finds out that a criminal called Mary Rock is interested in finding Vince.
- Soon Angela finds herself entangled in a dangerous world where getting killed is easy and where mythological creatures are real...
This is the beginning of a fast-paced and extremely well written story that is filled with action and suspense.
It's great that the narrative alternates between Angela and Vince, because the chapters and scenes featuring Vince added depth to the story. It's a pleasure to follow what happens to Angela and Vince, because the author writes expertly about both of them.
The events take place in London. Although this novel shares the same location as a few other urban fantasy novels, it separates itself from its contemporaries by its multifaceted and fast-paced story. London only serves as a background for the author's unusually intriguing blend of crime and fantasy elements, because readers are introduced into a whole new world that lies hidden from humans. The author's worldbuilding is exceptionally good and his way of writing about what hides in the shadows is fascinating, because the underside is the domain of the Kin who once lived in daylight before humans took over the world.
Tim Lebbon's strong vision about a secret world populated by mythological beings ranging from monsters to fairies is something to behold. He writes about such beings as nymphs and satyrs in a fascinating way. There's a sense of awe and wonder to his descriptions about these beings that is often lacking in urban fantasy fiction.
In my opinion, one of the keystones in urban fantasy fiction is good characterisation. I'm pleased to say that the characterisation works well in this novel, because the main characters are interesting and the minor characters add fascination to the storyline.
Angela Gough is a strong heroine and an interesting protagonist who has a first class degree in criminology and is doing her thesis. She's in love with her boyfriend, Vince, and thinks that he is the one. She's a resourceful woman who boldly begins to investigate Vince's disappearance and finds herself in a strange world where mythological creatures exist and are being hunted.
Fat Frederick Meloy is a shady businessman who uses legitimate businesses as a front to his criminal empire. He's a truly uncompromising character who must never be called 'Freddie'. I have to mention that Fat Frederick Meloy is one of the most interesting bad guys I've ever seen in urban fantasy novels. The author has created a complex character whose evilness and obsession towards the relics is made flesh during the story by the author's striking writing style. Although he is evil and has done many bad and extremely nasty things, you can't help but be fascinated by his appearance and his obsession.
Mary Rock is a memorable character, but I won't go into details about her, because I might reveal too much information about the story. I'll only mention that she's a powerful criminal who doesn't hesitate to kill people.
One of the most important things that separates Relics from other urban fantasy novels is that mythological creatures are on the brink of extinction and have to hide their existence from humans in order to stay alive. These creatures are being mercilessly hunted and killed, because they've become victims of a brutal and highly profitable body part trade. Their body parts are sold to collectors at high price.
The ending is excellent, because it's a blood- and gore-filled action feast that is unlike anything I've ever seen in urban fantasy novels. I couldn't turn my gaze away from the pages as the ending approached, because the author ended the novel in a thrilling way.
This novel has a foreboding and intensely violent atmosphere that intrigued me. Because Tim Lebbon has written horror novels and stories, he expertly creates a sense of darkness and leads them into a strange world that is slightly reminiscent of Clive Barker's Cabal, which was adapted into the film Nightbreed. There's a distinct sense of darkness to this novel that deepened my interest in it and made me enjoy it.
Because I loved this novel, I look forward to reading the sequels, Borderland and The Lonely. I can hardly wait to get my hands on them, because I'd like to find out what happens next. The ending suggests that the author has many wondrous sights in store for his readers.
I'm a bit torn between giving this novel strong four stars or full five stars, but I'll go for full five stars, because I loved the dark story and enjoyed the characterisation. This novel spoke to me in a way that only a few other urban fantasy novels have, because it takes readers away from their comfort zones by placing the protagonist in the middle of strange happenings and violent criminals.
Fans of well written urban fantasy should put Tim Lebbon's Relics immediately on their reading list, because it's a highly enjoyable novel. It will strike a chord among readers who love fast-paced, gritty and hardboiled urban fantasy stories, because it has plenty of action and the author makes sure that the story is suspenseful. I think that Relics will be of special interest to everyone who is familiar with Clive Barker's dark fantasy stories and has read Ari Marmell's Mick Oberon novels.
Excellent and fascinatingly dark urban fantasy fiction!