I finished this book yesterday, and I’m having a strong enough emotional reaction to it that I think I’m going to write a review. Or something like it. In any case, I’ll put spoilers behind a cut, to be safe.
I’ve been musing over what to say about this for about a day and a half, and at some point the title came to me, “The Good, the Bad, and the Angry”. And as tongue-in-cheek as it may be, it’s appropriate.
First, the good. Because, make no mistake, New Amsterdam is very, very good. I read about it a few weeks ago, and was intrigued by the premise. It sounded really interesting, but I had a rather ambivalent experience with Blood & Iron, so I hesitated and — as is my wont — ultimately talked myself out of it.
Then I discovered that “Lucifugous”, the first story in the book, is available online at Subterranean Press. I read it, fell in love, and immediately ordered New Amsterdam. (And waited on pins-and-needles until it arrived.) And the rest was just as good as the first. I love the worldbuilding, the alternate history and what she did with the vampires. And I love — love — Sebastien and Jack. Words cannot express my love, and I can’t count the number of times I squeed to Terra over some bit of cuteness or another. My God, I love them.
Even Abby Irene (though I’ll admit I often found myself yearning for more Sebastien and Jack during her stories) was great fun to read.
So, yes. Overall? Very, very good.
Now, for the bad, and the angry…
(Here there be spoilers. You’ve been warned.)
The thing is, I loved the book… until the last ten pages. And then Jack died, and it crashed and burned.
See, I understand the need to murder your darlings, when the plot requires it. When there’s a point. But if there’s a point to Jack’s death, I just don’t see it.
He didn’t die to save someone else’s life, he didn’t die to uphold an ideal, he didn’t sacrifice himself because it was the only way to kill the beast and save Paris (although after all their talk about how stepping into the power field would kill you, I half expected that he would die because something would go wrong with their trap and the only way to kill the beast would be to go into the field with it, and Jack would end up taking the initiative and doing it). If he’d been turned by Sebastien, even, it would have worked, and it would have been a nice throwback to the conversation in “Limerent” between Sebastien and Abby Irene, over whether Sebastien would turn Jack if he needed to, and whether Jack would thank him for it.
If Jack had died for one of those reasons, I’d have been really sad. As it is, I’m sad, but I’m also really really angry. What was the point?
It’s just so senseless. And without a point, a reason for it, it just seems like melodrama, like a contrivance. The only point I can see is to make the last story have a more dramatic climax than the rest. Murdering your darling because the story requires it is one thing, and slaughtering them needlessly is entirely another. And it’s a really piss-poor reason to kill a character, IMO.