The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty
Series: The Shambling Guides #1
A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city – for the undead!
Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoe is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoe is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume — human.
Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker — Zoe delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.
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If I had to sum up THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY is two words, I’d have to go with “absolutely delightful”. Mur Lafferty has crafted an original, witty urban fantasy around a profession I once thought about getting into myself: travel writing. It gives THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY a really unique entry into the genre and it got me hooked from the get-go.
Zoe is a great main character. She’s very average in a lot of ways but she excels at travel writing and being stubborn. She keeps applying for the job at Underground Publishing even though many other characters are trying to dissuade her, including the owner. Obviously, from the title, she does persevere and ends up as the only human member on the staff of the publication company; everyone else is coterie, all of the supernatural who inhabit this world. There are your usual vampires, incubi, and zombies but there are also some less common supernaturals, and the introduction of a new group, the zoetists, people who give life (e.g. create golums). Lafferty does a wonderful job of putting her own spin on all of these characters. Her zombies worship celebrities and she has a gay incubus who runs a bakery and gets his fix from people loving his baked goods, not from sex. Zoe’s coworkers aren’t all puppies and hearts, though, and we do see the dark nature of some of the coterie that Zoe meets.
The plot takes all sorts of twists and turns. Someone’s out to get Zoe and things escalate as the novel progresses. What starts off as a simple job search after a heartbreak that lead to a move from North Carolina to New York City develops into a struggle to stay alive, complete with some epic action sequences. The last third of the novel is really exciting; Lafferty definitely knows how to bring things to a thrilling conclusion.
THE SHAMBLING GUIDE TO NEW YORK CITY is a joy of a book and one that I would definitely recommend. I look forward to diving into the next book in the series, set in New Orleans.