Spellbent is the first novel published by Lucy Snyder, and the first volume in a trilogy. The book is in the fantasy or perhaps cyberpunk genre, although it is tagged as being in the urban fantasy genre-- which is a classification I couldn't totally define.

The book starts in medias res, (doubly, in fact), with the heroine, one Jessica Shimmer, going to perform a bit of magic with her older boyfriend, Cooper. The book takes place in central Ohio, in a world that is conceivably ours, except for the thinly disguised presence of magic. In the middle of doing the magic, things go horribly awry, with Cooper being dragged into a hell, and Jessie being terribly injured and disfigured. After escaping the initial dangers, she also finds herself in trouble with the powers-that-be, and is left friendless, injured, evicted and with a hellhound on her trail. Through her daring and resourcefulness, she fights off her various enemies, and uncovers a truly horrifying mystery.

This book has a lot to recommend it. From the beginning it is clear that it is a good book, and it shows signs of greatness. Before he was replaced by an animatronic Disney robot, Neil Gaiman wrote works that were both human, wry, and also could tap into archetypes. And this is what I think this book is doing. For the first few chapters, I thought that the book was a type of affectionate parody of Shadowrun-style worlds, (which it might be: it is possible to write something both as a parody and seriously), but as I read deeper in the book, I got more and more engrossed in the book, and more importantly, started to believe what I was reading. And this is what the biggest surprise of the book was for me: I knew that obviously Lucy Snyder had spent enough time in the trenches that she could work out how to put a book together (which, of course, she does do). But being a good editor does not always make one a good writer. But beyond technical proficiency, I feel that Miss Snyder really believes in what she is creating. Especially in the closing chapters, when the book transforms from a fantasy work to a deep vein of horror, I felt that what I was reading was, in several senses, visionary. And this is what really drew me into the book and its world.

Only complaint: the rest of the trilogy isn't out yet.

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