I want to eat Alexis Hall’s brain with a nice Chianti. Admittedly, some of this sentiment is born of jealousy, possibly alcoholism. But mostly it’s respect. Total respect.
For starters, I’m going to boldly state that I rate Alexis Hall’s work on a different scale than other books. In fact, he makes me want to go back to my Goodreads lists and start handing out demerits to other stuff I’ve rated because he sets the bar so fucking high. He makes me want to reread books I thought I enjoyed just so I can throw my Kindle across the room this time around. So, where I rated his follow-up work to Prosperity, There Will Be Phlogiston, a four, that does not mean it is on par with other four-star books. It is hell and gone from other four-star books. Other five-star books, even. Basically, I couldn’t give it the same 5 stars I gave Glitterland, or Sand and Ruin and Gold. Or this. Goddamn, this book right here.
Alexis Hall is a genius and has thoroughly screwed my book-rating system.
Anyway, the book:
Hall pits heaven (Ruben, the ex-preacher) against hell (Milord, the uber-slimy-underground-mob-boss-type-guy), only they’re rather perversely sexually enslaved to each other (wait, could that be love?). And then he gives us the classic hooker with a heart of gold (mebbe) in our narrator, Piccadilly (who Piccadillied his own name–how damn cute is he?). He’s a conniving sewer rat who needs saving, but ends up doing a fair amount of rescuing of others as he risks life and fin on more than one occasion for the crew of the good ship Shadowless. They become the closest thing he’s had to family, and, surprisingly, something worth dying for if need be. Said crew includes the star-crossed lovers mentioned, the addle-brained-yet-cool-as-a-cucumber crackhead navigator, Miss Grey, and then there’s the captain. Oh captain, my captain. For me, Byron Kae was the show-stealer. God, did I want them and Dil to get together for a bit of the whatnot.
Who am I kidding? The world building, Hall’s exquisite voice, every damn character, the delish voyeuristic sex scene, the creeptastic clockwork parts, the space kraken—the whole damn thing was the show-stealer.
And with this, Alexis Hall moves into my top MM author slot. The honor includes such perks as being subjected to cyberstalking and embarrassing fangirling, and having your characters accents bastardized as I read your books aloud to my cat, possibly while he humps his favorite fuzzy pink blanket because he does that a lot. Check and mate. I’m sorry, KJ, but we’ll always have England.