Hello Humans! Welcome to today’s book review, where I’ll be telling you my thoughts on the historical, fantasy, mystery novel: Spectacle by Jodie Lynn Zdrok. As has been the case with a number of new releases this year, I had no idea what to expect going in, for a woman raised on murder mysteries (Jonathan Creek was my jam) I don’t actually read a huge number of mystery novels, but if they’re all as fun as Spectacle I might have to change that!
A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.
When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.
This is the second book set in Paris that I’ve read recently (the other being Gita Trelease’s Enchantée) and I think this might be my preferred of the two. I think this book managed to grab me more without feeling like I was being smothered by a French flag and beaten by a baguette. It is also possible that the darker nature of this book appealed to me more than the more whimsical aspects of the former. But we’re not here to compare books, we’re here to review. My point was that this book manages to write a book set in Paris without being annoying about it.
I really liked Nathalie as a character, I thought that she was interesting, smart, driven and basically everything I wish I was. I loved that this book recognised that it was unusual for her to be a reporter, but managed to find a way to make it work – the sections where Nathalie has to dress up as a boy to deliver her stories were some of the most fun parts of the book. She is absolutely the star and if she hadn’t been done well I don’t think I would have enjoyed this book nearly as much.
It’s interesting, there is a fair amount of fantasy in this book, looking at the aftermath of a series of experiments that left some people with powers, but my lasting impression of the book was not revelling on how that ‘magic’ fit into the historical setting of the book, but rather it was of the overall tone of the story itself. That’s probably what I enjoyed most, the creation of this world, the little details and the descriptions of the streets and locations really managed to capture me, I felt like this was one of the more cohesive and believable historical fantasy books I have read of late.
The mystery element is interesting, I do think the pacing is a little off towards the end, the denouement of a mystery novel (ok fine, TV show but I’m working on the novel thing) has to be this big reveal and really make you go ‘oh so that’s what’s going on’ and I didn’t quite get that from this. However, I do think that the book as a whole is strong enough that it isn’t enough to ruin it for me.
If you enjoy this kind of book, and you aren’t opposed to a grizzly murder (ok, bad phrasing, of course I do not condone murder), I think you’d probably really enjoy this, at the very least I think you’ll fall for Nathalie as hard as I did – because oh boy.
My rating: 4/5 stars
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
What say you? Will you be reading Spectacle when it comes out on February 12th? Let me know in the comments below!