The Severed Streets, by Paul Cornell

Review copy provided by Tor.

Last year when I read London Falling, I thought that it was clear that the beats fell where they would in a Doctor Who episode, and that’s still one of the places where Paul Cornell’s TV background is coming through in the sequel. Another place, though, is that I’m afraid he leans pretty heavily on the actors to carry the characterization and charisma of the characters. This…is not entirely ideal in a novel, where there are no actors.

Here, the most vivid character is Neil Gaiman. I don’t mean “someone who was made to startlingly resemble Neil Gaiman but was slyly named something like Bill Hayman so that only those in the know will recognize him.” No. It was actual Neil Gaiman as a major character–and yes, a major one; he seems early on to be making a minor cameo, and if you think, Lordy, this is about all the Neil Gaiman cameo I can take, there’s more. I hate Tuckerizations. This is a Tuckerization on steroids. This could have the alternate title All Tuckered Out. Best Bib and Tucker. Etc.

In a world where I don’t seem to be getting Mike Carey books any more, in a world where Ben Aaronovitch books don’t come out as often as they might, this is a London urban fantasy series, and it will do. But it’s pretty flat affect, and the Jack-the-Ripper inversions don’t ever get as vivid or as important as they might, and, well, it’s all right, if you’re up for that much Neil Gaiman as a fictional character, I guess. I’m a little worried about who will guest star in the next episode–er, novel–and what will be joyless about it. But I haven’t quit on the series yet.

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