Released late in 2018, Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso has already picked up a lot of positive reviews. Which is no surprise, as it’s a novel that any fan of urban fantasy would enjoy and recommend.
Being a science fiction blog, we rarely talk about fantasy novels on Stranger Views, but we’re happy to make an exception for Fallible Justice. It’s Laakso’s debut novel and it suggests she has a bright future.
Fallible Justice Summary
A paranormal crime drama set in Old London, where the magical rub shoulders with normal humanity. Private investigator Yannia Wilde is tasked to clear a man of murder. The problem being he has been declared guilty by a Herald of Justice, an infallible being.
Yannia is one of the ‘Wilde folk’ who has left her rural community to live in London. She is aided by Karrion, a bird shaman who acts as her apprentice.
As they work together on their impossible task, they guide the reader through a world of Fey, Mages and Shamans.
Fallible Justice Review
Fallible Justice is a unique novel, and one that announces its author as a rare talent. Below are some the aspects of the work that make the novel such an enjoyable and compelling read.
Clever world building
When introducing a fantasy world, it’s easy for the author to fall into the trap of giving too much exposition. Instead, Laakso subtly introduces the different rules, customs and characters of Old London without overloading the reader with bare description.
Each new aspect of the world is only released as it pertains to the story or to the character. While sometimes the characters are a little more full in their descriptions of what is going on than is natural, for the most part Laakso keeps a tight rein on the exposition. And the novel is all the better for it.
The reader never feels lost in this world, but it still retains its mystery.
Laaskso’s unusual writing style
‘I am running through the wilderness and the wilderness runs through me.’
The above is a good example of Laakso’s writing style. It’s direct, yet somehow magical. The author mixes short staccato sentences with occasional more florid touches., Presenting an Old London that feels as real as the actual city yet, at the same time, completely magical.
A tired and raw Yannia
Yannia is not a hard-bitten noir detective like Harry Dresden or Raymond Chandler. She has hints of a dark past, but that past has made her more delicate rather closed off.
Like many incomers to London, she feels cut off from her home despite her appreciation of the City. She is also dealing with a medical condition that causes her great pain.
Throughout the novel, we feel Yannia’s struggle through her tiredness and her pain. Living her life and doing her job despite all of the forces against her.
This, strangely enough, makes her a more human character than many typical private detectives in literature.
A fascinating depiction of magic
Writing about magic is tough to get right. Make it too unfathomable, and it becomes an annoying Dues E Machina, where the characters use it to get themselves out of any fix the writer needs them to get out off. Be too proscribed and it becomes boring, and the reader feels they are reading a fantasy novel and the author forgot to put the magic in.
Fallible Justice treads this fine line beautifully. The magic seems otherworldly and beyond our ken. Yet we get the impression there are rules and regulations about its use, both in the sense that magic has its limits and that the laws of the land regulate magic users.
A mystery that keeps you interested
Fallible Justice is a crime drama. So it’s important that the mystery keeps the reader engaged and keeps them thinking.
It’s a fair criticisim to say that the underlying mystery isn’t the most complex. Yet Laakso adds enough subterfuge and intrigue to keep the reader turning the pages throughout.
If you’re looking for more book recommendations, take a look at our best science fiction novels of all time list.
Fallible Justice by Laura Laakso
A fantastic debut novel from an author set to be a big name in urban fantasy. Fallible Justice could be the best paranormal crime novel you read this year.