Ree Reyes’s life was easier when all she had to worry about was scraping together tips from her gig as a barista and comicshop slave to pursue her ambitions as a screenwriter.
When a scruffy-looking guy storms into the shop looking for a comic like his life depends on it, Ree writes it off as just another day in the land of the geeks. Until a gigantic “BOOM!” echoes from the alley a minute later, and Ree follows the rabbit hole down into her town’s magical flip-side. Here, astral cowboy hackers fight trolls, rubber-suited werewolves, and elegant Gothic Lolita witches while wielding nostalgia-powered props.
Ree joins Eastwood (aka Scruffy Guy), investigating a mysterious string of teen suicides as she tries to recover from her own drag-your-heart-through-jagged-glass breakup. But as she digs deeper, Ree discovers Eastwood may not be the knight-in-cardboard armor she thought. Will Ree be able to stop the suicides, save Eastwood from himself, and somehow keep her job?
Ree Reyes is a struggling screenwriter that is biding her time by working as a barista at Café Xombie. It’s not a bad gig, and she loves the people, but life could be a little more exciting. Be careful what you wish for, because when Eastwood comes into her life, nothing will be the same. She manages to witness him fighting otherworld baddies in the alley outside the shop and is sucked into a world of all kinds of supernatural oddities. After overcoming her initial disbelief, Ree is asked to help him in his inquiries into recent teen suicides. Full on, geeky mayhem ensues.
I have to admit, while the author was setting up his magic system, and we were getting to know Ree, the near constant pop culture and “geek” references were distracting to me. They come hard, fast, and often. However, as I got into the flow of the book, and let myself go with said flow, I really had a quite a bit of fun with this one. The brand of magic (genre magic) used here is tons of fun. His characters can pick up magic abilities by watching moves or shows on whatever subject they need to use magic in conjunction with. Also, reading can do the same thing. For example, when Ree needs help with sleuthing, she watches Sherlock Holmes. With genre emulation, the more emotional attachment you have to the material, the more you get out of it. As Ree follows Eastwood, she meets all sorts of interesting folks, including some Geekomancers that give them a run for their money, Drake Winters, a displaced steampunk super hero, Furrymancers, and gnomes (probably not like you’re picturing.) She also discovers that Eastwood might not be quite what he seems.
Can Ree stop the suicides? Will she manage to keep her job at Café Xombi amidst all the mayhem? Will she ever write that screenplay? You’re in for a treat with this one, and I found myself especially enjoying it amidst all of the “darker” reads that I’ve been eating up lately, not to mention that the author validates my love for the 2005 movie Sahara and Steve Zahn. Evidently, I’m not the only one that liked it (I just knew I wasn’t.) I hope you have as much fun with this one as I did, and I’ll look forward to seeing what the author has up his geektastic sleeves next!