Sixty One Nails by Mike Shevdon

(2012-02-19)

Sixty-One Nails by Mike Shevdon

Angry Robot Books    
August 2010           
ASIN: B003ZSIT0C (Kindle edition)
606 kb (filesize)      

Review by N.E. White.

Sixty-One Nails is Mike Shevdon’s first book. But it doesn’t feel like it. The characters are well defined, the plot engaging, and the story arc brings a satisfactory conclusion to the first book in a series that I predict will become one of my favorites.

The setting is modern day London.  But in this world, magic boils beneath the streets.  The Feyre, magical creatures from ancient times, walk among the underground trains and rivers hoping to survive among humanity. One group of the Feyre, the Untainted, have long awaited their return to dominance and if somebody doesn’t stop them, all hell could break loose.

Our hero, Niall Petersen, is an everyday bloke who happens to have a bit of Feyre in him.  Niall discovers his life will never be the same after he meets Blackbird, his mentor and guide into the secret life of Feyre that pulses around us.  He also finds out that the power he can wield isn’t what any other nice Feyre can accept. In order to survive, Niall must not only get himself under control and elude the Untainted Feyres who do want him dead, but save the world - all before Monday.

The book starts with Niall’s death. While rushing to work, Niall suffers a heart attack in the underground rail system near London, as rush hour pedestrians stream around him. But, miraculously, Niall is saved by an older woman who claims she is a doctor. She is anything but a doctor, as Niall soon realizes.  Her name is Blackbird and as she reluctantly helps him navigate his new found life, he finds himself drawn to her by more than just the need for information. For it appears that Niall’s touch with death has awoken something inside of him. Something dark and dangerous.  Without Blackbird’s help, Niall learns he would soon end up dead. Blackbird leads him around London to meet an ancient Feyre that can offer him some clue as to what he might be able to do save his life.  He learns far more than that and thus begins his quest to save the world.

This is a fast paced book that, if it grabs you, will leave you sleepless till you finish.  It is hard to put the book down when so much is happening to the character.  Because Niall is being chased for pretty much the entire book, the reader is imbued with that same sense and is impelled to finish the story.  Another aspect of the book I enjoyed was the descriptions of the use of magic and the magical beings. Though these creatures are familiar to many who know English folk-lore, i.e. wraiths, fairies, leprechauns, etc, they are painted in darker hues and given a history and problems just as real as our own. This made their story just as interesting to read about as the main character’s. I was also impressed with the descriptions of Niall’s power over the ‘void’, the spaces between things, and how, when the character draws upon that power, it changes his physical appearance. Don’t ask me why, but I was reminded of Dr. Manhattan from the Watchmen.

Mr. Shevdon did an excellent job of merging the magical world with our own.  He gave this reader enough explanation as to how a secret alliance between humans and beings who can control elements (earth, wind, fire, water, and the void) could co-exist. Though they have power any one of us might envy, they also have genetic problems, bad habits, and family disputes that pale our own.  The author’s vivid imagination comes through in all aspects of the novel, and his world-building is solid.

If you like fairies, goblins, and other dark creatures mixed with a modern flavor, check out Sixty-One Nails. I enjoyed the book and look forward to continuing the Courts of the Feyres series.  Highly recommended.

N.E. White, February 2012.

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