First book of the Wyrd
By Alis Franklin
Available now from Hydra (Penguin Random House)
I was first drawn to LIESMITH by the cover. You don't see many black guys on the cover of urban fantasy novels. Then there was the blurb, which promised Norse mythology meets IT. That made me think of the SpellCrash series by Kelly McCullough, which I love.
Alis Franklin's debut novel is about Sigmund Sussman, a low-level IT nerd who just humiliated himself by not recognizing his boss when he meets Lain Laufeyjarson, the new guy in the department. The two hit it off, leading Sigmund to question himself - and Lain's attraction to him. But soon he has even more to question than his new relationship, because strange things are happening. Strange, dangerous things.
I enjoyed Franklin's writing style quite a bit, although I expect it might not be for everyone. It can tend a bit toward the labyrinthine, like the plot. There are lots of characters trying to pull of long-term master plans, which means their is a bit of a pileup of complicated events at the end. At the same time, I appreciate that ambition and that Franklin managed to pull off a few brilliant twists grounded in mythology.
Obviously, no one even slightly familiar with Norse mythology (and who isn't, in the age of Marvel?) will fail to ascertain Lain's real identity even before it is revealed to the reader. (Thankfully, not too long. Both Lain and Sigmund narrate.) But it might be more complicated than it first seems. I also liked that the cast wasn't entirely male. Sigmund's two best friends are both women, and both play an active role in the climax.
There are lots of rough edges to LIESMITH. The romance is a touch cliche and sometimes it is hard to follow what is happening. But LIESMITH shows a lot of promise. It's sweet, but tough, much like many of its characters. I look forward to the next book of the Wyrd.