Night Child by Jes Battis
Review by Floresiensis
Tess Corday soon realizes that there is not going to be anything ordinary about this case-not the lab results on the cause of death; not Mia Polanski, the teenage girl living at the address found in the vamp’s pocket, who may well be in thrall to a demon; and certainly not Lucien Agrado, the necromancer who is liaison to the vampire community. Agrado is supposed to be part of the solution, but Tess suspects he might be part of the problem. Under pressure from her boss, Tess is trying to go by the book on this one. But when Mia reaches out to her, she risks her career to help the girl-and finds herself in the middle of a paranormal conspiracy that will change her life forever. Or possibly end it…
I started reading Night Child and the first impressions were very good – it was obvious that Jes Battis could write; and write well. You form an opinion of a new author within the first few pages and fortunately my opinion of the author was high - I thought that he possessed a sharp, fluid writing style that would make the 291 pages a great deal of fun. The opening of the story is great; the characterisation strong, the action well paced. The events in Night’s Child are mainly sequential although flashbacks allow the reader to form a better understanding of the characters past - the flashbacks also allow the author to further build the main characters and the story. The main character is Tess Corday, a member of the OSI whose career is fast going nowhere. She is a rather mixed-up twenty-four year-old woman who is haunted by the death of a childhood friend. Her colleague and friend is Derrick, a gay telepath, and their friendship is very important to the story and nicely played.
As I got closer to the porch, something dark and immense brushed against my psychic boundaries, and I instinctively took a step backward. It wasn’t a defensive spell per se – more like a declaration of power, a rune drawn in blood on the very surface of the air. For anyone mage-trained, it was the equivalent of waving a flag, or setting off a flare gun: Keep away.
Great. Necromancers, vampires, and psionics – we almost had a musical.
Night Child is an urban fantasy set in the third person, a style that allows us to see events through the eyes of our heroine, Tess. I thought that Night Child was an enormously enjoyable book that benefited from never pretending to be anything that it wasn’t. Jes Battis plays to his strengths; good characterisation; a passion for the dark; and a wonderful seam of dry, sometimes bitchy humour running throughout the tale. The author’s inspiration is to found on the pages themselves – Dante, Dickens, Hamilton (expected) and Coronation Street (not at all expected).
One thing that stood out for me was how the humour of the book really struck a chord with me, a Brit. I have found over the years that the British and Canadian senses of humour are more finely attuned than the Anglo/American. I firmly believe that both nations find similar subjects and topics (not always mature ones) extremely amusing and this is why I felt so comfortable with this book.
Jes Battis has a love of Buffy and Angel, he released Blood Relations: Chosen Families in “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” in 2005 and elements of this can be found within his story. I read Night Child while travelling to and from work and the journey passed by very quickly, this is a sign that the book you are reading is gripping and involving - short, snappy paragraphs make for an energetic feel and the humour really helps the story from taking itself too seriously. The first few pages of Night’s Child reminded me of James Herbert, an author that wrote many books, in the first person, featuring a paranormal investigator as the lead. Night’s Child is an adult crime / fantasy / vampire novel that approaches all three genres from a completely new angle - the lead characters are strong, the narrative well constructed. I would highly recommend Night’s Child to teenagers and adults looking for a rewarding urban fantasy.
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