Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel José Older (Roc, Jan 6th, 2015)-I’ve been waiting so very long for a full length novel featuring Carlos Delacruz, who works for the New York Council for the Dead. I first met Carlos in Older’s magnificent story collection Salsa Nocturna and so, of course, I couldn’t wait to dig into this. A bit of history: Carlos is an inbetweener, both alive and dead, and he has very little memory of who he was before he “died” and went to work for the Council. It makes for a bit of a lonely life, although he does value his friends and coworkers. When the book opens, Carlos gets orders to take out a man named Trevor that is threatening the stability of an entrada (an entrance into the underworld), and he does, not knowing that this will lead him into some rather startling revelations about his past, not to mention a very powerful sorcerer, Sarco, that seeks to destroy the barrier between the living and the dead.
If you know Daniel José Older’s work, then you know how he writes. I imagine he writes like he plays music, with a lyrical quality that is nearly impossible to tear yourself away from. Carlos is the narrator, and he wears his pain on his sleeve, his loneliness always palpable. After all, as far as he knows, he’s the only of his kind. And yet, he’s not afraid to fight the good fight, and his sarcasm is as sharp as a freshly stropped razor, as is his sense of humor. I don’t want to give too much away, but suffice it to say that Carlos does find clues about his past, and meets a woman that may have the key to his future. First though, he’s got to take care of a pretty nasty imp infestation that seems to be directly associated with Sarco. Those imps are nasty business, and the first time we meet one is, well, you’ll see. I’ve never quite read anything like it. The imagery is so twisted. So very, very twisted.
New York has long been considered a colorful, richly diverse city, but Older’s magical rendering makes it something very special indeed, full of ghosts, soul catchers, and many other otherworldly delights and monstrosities. It makes for a very creepy and exciting mix, daubed with shades of melancholy, and even some very clever horror elements, and the ending will leave you reeling. I can’t recommend this book, or this author, highly enough. This is what urban fantasy is all about, and when you start this, allow some time to finish, because you won’t want to come up for air until you do.