Title: Hang Wire
Author: Adam Christopher
Publisher: Angry Robot
Publication Date: January 2014
Series: Stand Alone
Audio or Book: Book
Reason for Discovery: ARC
I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Ted Hall is worried. He’s been sleepwalking, and his somnambulant travels appear to coincide with murders by the notorious Hang Wire Killer. Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde World Funfair has started talking to his vintage machines, and the new acrobat’s frequent absences are causing tension among the performers. Out in the city there are other new arrivals – immortals searching for an ancient power – a primal evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world!
This book follows several different characters whose lives intersect. Ted just had his birthday and had some sort of accident at his party. He is having trouble with his sleep. Joel is on a mission to follow the light. Bob has retired to the beach and is a regular tourist attraction, because he likes to ballroom dance with tourists. Finally, there are the Hang Wire killer who is stalking the streets of the city and an acrobat from the circus who is chasing the killer. There is something sleeping under San Francisco, and what Ted, Joel, Bob, the killer, and the would-be hero do will either cause it to wake or stay under the streets.
I finished this book on Friday, and I have been struggling with what to say in this review. Let's first review what I disliked the about the book. I found that there were two big problems with this book. (1) The world building rules were not defined. There are gods in this book from different cultures, but there is no explanation why these gods are in San Fransisco or if there are other gods roaming about the city or the world. I was also confused why the gods mentioned in this book are in this book. They didn't seem related to San Francisco or have another connection to this story. (2) There were a lot of POV characters in this book, and the chapters were short. I had a hard time caring about the characters and remembering who was who, because the chapters ended and moved to a new POV character before I got interested in them. About one-third of the way through the book, I started to get into the groove, but I was definitely feeling a bit frustrated by this point.
Although I had some problems with the world building and revolving cast of characters, the writing kept me hooked. I didn't want to put the book down; I really wanted to see how everything came together. I was really surprised how content I was reading this book even with its problems. I also really enjoyed the feel and the atmosphere of the book. People have described Hang Wire as noir fiction. I typically expect characters to be a bit more cynical and the city to be a bit more rundown for a book to be considered noir fiction; however, the feel of the book was noir. There is something haunting about this book that harkens to noir even though it isn't (at least in my opinion).
Overall, this book was okay. I wish it had been a bit longer, so the world building could have been more developed. Also, there was a bit of info dumping at the end of the book that was probably added, because the world building had been so vague up until that point. Christopher at that point had to just bluntly tell his audience what he was thinking, so the readers knew what was going on, if they were still confused. If you are a fan of American Gods by Neil Gaiman, The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, or the television show Carnivalé and are okay with limited world building, this may be a fun read for you. Unfortunately, for me, this wasn't a great fit. At the same time, I enjoyed the writing, and I am still excited to try some of Christopher's other book.
I give this book a 2 out of 5.
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