Traveler, writer, reviewer, all-round observer. I like anything cool & fast, but occasionally sit at a cafe watching the world go by.
To be truthful, the first thing that came to mind was, “Ho hum, New York City underwater. What else is new?” Well, that “Ho hum” deteriorated with each passing page and chapter. As a New Yorker, I found it enthralling.
Imagine if you would, a fusion of: Sherlock Holmes-style speculative mystery and twists; some mystical powers; the polar ice caps having melted along with other cataclysmic events; all set in mostly submerged New York in the early 1900’s.
I have to say, Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden took their time thinking through the impact of what would happen mentally, physically, as well as architecturally if a mass flooding occurred nearly a century ago. How would people cope? How would the city look? The effort and thought process put into this story is not surprising from these authors. I will have to warn you though, it is a slow read. I am a little disappointed how it dragged on in certain areas and repeated some of the more descriptive explanations. Despite that, I did see some necessity to that, and enjoyed the story overall.
There were many aspects which I found positively interesting, drawing me further and further into the what-if perspective of old New York. To begin with, there is magic, though not the wave-of-the-wand, Hocus-Pocus, Ala-Kazaam, in-your-face type of magic. It’s more mystical, yet mysterious. In the first half, it gives the reader enough material to really wonder whether to believe or shrug it off. As the story goes on, it becomes more and more clear what mystical forces are involved.
Then there’s the city itself. Downtown, being mostly submerged, is still populated by a mixture of innocents and bandits trying to endure with whatever is left to survive on. The remaining buildings jutting out of the water, a surreal setting for sure, are connected by makeshift bridges and water transports of all types. And what seems like a world apart, upper Manhattan, at a higher elevation and populated by the affluent upper class, is safe from the flood. This is definitely not the ‘Water-World’ story. The world was spared from complete disaster, but Mignola and Golden still leave us questioning if it will it survive the continuing supernatural forces at work, let alone recover?
Finally we come to the characters – Orlov the Conjuror, his faithful assistant Molly McHugh, and their rescuers Simon Church and Joe Golem, all intertwined in one way or another. They fight off fiends and strange creatures, deal with their past, attempt to survive the present, and involuntarily effect the future. My personal favorite is Joe Golem. After reading about his past and how he came to be, I look forward to reading more of his adventures. I definitely can see the start of a new following taking place, perhaps even a Golem fan club. I also sincerely hope Molly continues to be there to help guide him. With her bravery, guts, and streets-smarts, she is exactly what he needs as a beacon to steer him through his own personal evolution. The way Molly was running roof to roof, crossing makeshift bridges, and hiding in the labyrinth of a building trying to escape a mysterious attacker was riveting. The scene when Joe and Molly were attempting to bond while on a quest to find a mystical object was touching. And the ghosts of Mr. Church’s past visiting him had me absorbed, as it was very enlightening (it most certainly answered some questions I had regarding Simon and Joe’s background and purpose). What was most interesting to me was the person behind the abduction and the one controlling the creatures. Focused on obtaining a mysterious object to use as a tool to go on THE adventure of his lifetime by any means possible, this antagonist gives a different take of a “dastardly” villain.
I liked some of the art work thrown in. It was dark and dreary, following the scenery of the storyline -I just wish there were more of it. I can see some of these images becoming sellable prints as part of a collection tied to this book.
I would absolutely say, go ahead and buy this book. Based on the debut of these characters and unique setting, it’s definitely a good one to have and quite possibly a future collector’s item.