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4.2 out of 5 stars
The Shambling Guide to New York City (The Shambling Guides)
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on 6 September 2013
After going through the Richard Kadrey Sandman Slim books, this was something of a palate cleanser. As with Kadrey, Butcher, Armstrong et al, the basic idea is the same, they are amongst us. Werewolves and vampires and fairies etc, however unlike the rest, this is a lot lighter, with a lot more humour. Zoe is looking for a new job, and ends up employed to write a "Rough Guide" to New York, but for the supernaturals. From there the story takes on at a galloping pace. Maybe not as dark as I'm used to, or quite as layered, but it's a good fun read. Assuming this is the first on what will be a series, I look forward to the rest
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on 6 June 2013
Reviewed by Caroline Hodges on Serendipity Reviews

Now here's an urban fantasy with a difference!

Experienced travel guide editor Zoe finds herself working to a distinctly different clientele when she joins Underground Publishing. Her new boss is a vampire, the office admin is a zombie and her office crush is an incubus, so she's not really sure if he's really a crush or he's just manipulating her that way! Tasked to produce a New York travel guide for the myriad of monsters she previously thought mythical, she finds herself entangled in the quest of one mad golem-making woman to plunge New York into chaos.

You need to suspend a lot of disbelief here, sure, what are the chances that a major catastrophic supernatural event occurs in NYC shortly after Zoe moves there, and meets monsters, and those monsters decide they're personally responsible for preventing the disaster? Even though, you know, there's a massive organisation in existence to sort this kind of stuff? If you can hold in your inner pedant (I have difficulty sometimes), you'll enjoy The Shambling Guide to New York City.

There's plenty of good humour and nice touches, like when Morgen the water sprite orders drinks (`Do you have Nile? Pre-pollution?') or the peculiar obsession with certain celebrities Zombies tend to have. Main character Zoe is herself light-hearted and optimistic which all tied together produces a book written for, and to incite, pleasure.

For me, the action towards the end was all a bit too over the top; I found myself thinking it'd make a great comic book but didn't seem to work too well in novel format as the rest of the book does. I'm not sure if this is influenced by my thinking the book was more going to be about the writing of the Shambling Guide - I think Lafferty could have had more than enough fun taking Zoe around the `coterie' side of New York.

Nonetheless, I enjoyed the book for the most part and will be pleased if next book `The Shambling Guide to New Orleans' is the second in a series of Shambling Guide tales.
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on 24 December 2013
Actually the 'monsters' have a nice healthy attitude of eating humans rather than sleeping with them (except of course incubi and succubi, where one is the same as the other). Our job hunting heroine is introduced to the other side of New York, when she persists in applying for a job, despite encountering 'not our sort' prejudice.
She gradually learns about the monster's, and businesses that cater to them. discovers New York sewer workers and Cabbies live a more interesting life than you'd expect. That not all Monster Hunters are teenaged cheerleaders and that she'd encountered the alternate life styled before (and really seriously pissed one of them off).
Ever encountered delays at an airport? It could have been a lot worse.

Not a great book, but well written and would appeal to a wide range of readers.
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on 30 May 2013
Review originally posted at http://manyatruenerd.com/2013/05/29/the-shambling-guide-to-new-york-city-review/

The Shambling Guide To New York City is an absolutely delightful almost-debut from RPG writer, Escape Pod editor and podcaster extraordinaire Mur Lafferty, whose career I've been following for some time.

Zoe's last job was a train wreck. She's back in her home town of New York City, desperate for a new start, but running out of cash fast. So when she finds an ad for a seemingly-perfect job as a travel guide editor, she's not going to let the excuse that `she's not the right type for the job' and `wouldn't fit in with the team' stand in her way. Sheer determination wins her an interview in a dilapidated theatre and dinner with her potential new boss.

It turns out the job is to write a guide book for New York's visiting monster population, who have been The boss is a vampire and the payroll includes zombies, an incubus and a death goddess. Zoe has to come to terms with the existence of another world, hidden in plain sight in her city, and learn to deal with her new co-workers often-disturbing feeding habits. When the balance between humans and coterie - monster is an offensive term - starts falling apart, she finds herself caught in the crossfire.

This is not Mur Lafferty's first published work - she has self-published the Heaven series and her novel Playing For Keeps came out from Swarm Press in 2008 - but it is her best yet.

She presents us with a rich supernatural underground to New York City, full of hilarious anecdotes and smart tweaks to reality (the MoMA's closed galleries are really hired out by visiting demons who are too big to fit in human-sized hotels) told through excerpts from the book Zoe is writing.

As a protagonist, Zoe is made even more likeable by the fact that is allowed to showcase real strength of character, even as she has to accept her weaknesses in dealing with an overwhelming situation. After her engrossing and thought-provoking novella Marco and the Red Granny, Lafferty gives us another kick-ass elderly woman to love and cheer on in the hilarious and irreverent Granny Good Mae. The rest of the varied cast of characters is also handled perfectly so that even the brain-eating zombies become relatable.

This is also a very funny book, Lafferty's humorous touch is spot-on throughout and her dry observations on the human or coterie conditions made me snort out loud several times.

In short, I can't wait for the second instalment in this series, The Ghost Train To New Orleans, and you should all go read The Shambling Guide To New York City, out in UK and US bookshops now. You can also go to Mur's website to listen to a chapter of the audiobook for free every week.
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Zoe is out of a job after becoming involved with her married boss, and has returned to her home town. In a nice twist, said home town isn't Nowheresville but is New York City itself. Answering an advert she sees in a café, Zoe finds about a new job editing a city guide - a job for which she is eminently qualified. But this is a guide with a difference - it's aimed at visiting monsters - vampires, zombies, fey, minor deities. (But you mustn't call them "monsters", they are "coterie".)

Mur Lafferty spins this premise into an entertaining take on urban fantasy. The plot, once it begins, is actually paper thin - someone, or something, is coming to New York to do Bad Things and upset the balance between humans and coterie - but this doesn't matter much as the book is so entertaining. Also, it's the first in the series, so Lafferty is doing a great deal of setting up and an undemanding plot is probably fair enough. The setting up, by the way, is done very well. She's taken great pains to make the characters and their situation credible (there is a calculated balance between humans and coterie, not a zombie apocalypse; the interactions between Zoe and her colleagues are credible, up to and including the problems of having an incubus on the team; the "economics" of how coterie find their food without (generally) hunting down humans are done convincingly). The only flaw was that, perhaps, there are rather too many different types of coterie in Zoe's office and for a few chapters I had trouble remembering who was who.

A couple of loose threads are left to be developed in future, notably, what is the source of Zoe's ability to remain cool and collected in the face of coterie?

I'm looking forward to the next book, The Ghost Train to New Orleans.
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on 13 October 2013
This book is a fast-paced ride through New York populated by all the usual monsters ... sorry "coterie" that are often found in urban fantasy. We follow Zoe as she learns about these creatures while working at her new job as editor of a Rough Guide style travel book aimed squarely at visiting coterie. Quirky humour abounds and things never get too bleak or dark. The tone and pace reminds me very much of Gail Carriger and I think her readers would love this book as well. It's a fast read that had me chuckling through out. The next in the series is on it's way and I'm looking forward to it.
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VINE VOICEon 26 July 2013
Whilst this might sound like a weird and unusual tour book to New York, it's actually a humorous, wonderfully paced title that brings the best of Urban Fantasy to readers with cracking prose and of course a lead character that you'll love to spend time around especially when zombie's break out, constructs un-nerve and all whilst Zoe's trying to do her day job.

Add to this a whole host of supporting cast members that will more than pique your interest alongside win your heart and all round this was a book that I had a lot of fun with. I can't wait to see what Mur does with New Orleans.
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on 24 July 2014
I thought I would love this but I somehow struggled to care about the characters. I soldiered on to the end to see if things would improve but I just didn't connect with them or really like the main character. I'm sure plenty of people will enjoy it but it just wasn't right for me.
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on 11 September 2013
Try the audiobook!

I've been listening to Mur Lafferty's podcasts and pod audiobooks for a few years now since buying an iPad.
She has the kind of happy fun voice that could make the dullest story sound great (rather than the all too common fantastic story killed by droning narrator!!)
The story is light and fun but Mur's narration just brings it alive - can't wait for her next in the series.
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on 15 April 2015
If I'm to be totally honest, I was disappointed. The book felt rushed and as a result I couldn't connect with any of the characters. It was all just a bit weird. There was a random sex scene, a god awful back story involving the main character with a married man (where did he go?) and just way to many weak characters. I've bought the second book hoping things improve. All in all its just a bit 'meh!'
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