This was really appreciated. A solid, new, take on classic mythologies without the all-too-frequent baggage of overly forced subplots. Silver Light by Matthew Cox is just about perfect. And the one imperfection is forgivable, and probably just in the eye of the beholder.
Alexis Silver is a PI, someone who has a reputation for getting the job done, and sometimes doing weird things. Like being a mermaid. If it helps, she wasn’t born that way… Ok, I expect eyes are rolling, since the ‘mermaid’ thing is basically associated with the House of Mouse and their animation department. Or any number of clones thereof. Cox has done something totally different here. In this cosmology, the mer are possessed (ish) by what he terms Dark Masters, who seem to be ascended (descended?) humans with magical powers and darkness in their souls. Evil deeds, even when done for understandable reasons, are still evil – that kind of thing.
So, we have Alexis, born about a century back, very smart, married young to a soldier killed in WWI, and then shipwrecked, and transformed. The back is a bit weaker than I like, but not so much to be an issue. As a mer, she needs to consume raw meat fairly often (sushi counts), and not be too far from salt water, preferably the ocean.
When she is hired to find a missing family, she finds herself in the middle of a lot more – from ex-boyfriend werewolves to children in peril. That is part of what makes this so good; there is a lot of room for more, but you never feel the plot or characters are being neglected. And that includes all the characters. Alexis, her Dark Master, the victims, the clients, the cops, the side characters, everyone is getting their time, and their arc are all contained and consistent. We never see anyone acting out of character, or beyond the realm of believability.
It is refreshing to see people being real. A lot of the books I haven’t talked about have been having problems with that, and so it becomes something to note here. Literally everyone is believable. It seems like a small thing, but really, really isn’t.
There is one little problem I had. The book runs afoul of Chekhov’s Gun. This literary rule was stated by the playwright several times, and basically says “Remove everything that has no relevance to the story. If you say in the first chapter that there is a rifle hanging on the wall, in the second or third chapter it absolutely must go off. If it’s not going to be fired, it shouldn’t be hanging there.” Misdirection is one thing, but it still uses the ‘gun’. In this, we have the oddly detailed opening scenes with the missing rich kid and his hippie friends in the woods. I mean, really oddly detailed. As in (per my Kindle) the first 8% of the book. And it goes nowhere. That is just ringing a bell in my head – there needs to be either less detail for it to work as a throwaway introduction, or we need to come back to this. I spent the rest of the book waiting for things to tie back together, and it just never happened.
Then again, this is book one of a series, so there is time!
Really, the initial intro case’s level of detail and lack of continuation is all I had issue with in this book. There is every reason to buy and read, and not a single good reason not to.