Book Review: The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty

Rating: 5/5
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Description from Goodreads:

A travel writer takes a job with a shady publishing company in New York, only to find that she must write a guide to the city – for the undead!

Because of the disaster that was her last job, Zoë is searching for a fresh start as a travel book editor in the tourist-centric New York City. After stumbling across a seemingly perfect position though, Zoë is blocked at every turn because of the one thing she can’t take off her resume — human.

Not to be put off by anything — especially not her blood drinking boss or death goddess coworker — Zoë delves deep into the monster world. But her job turns deadly when the careful balance between human and monsters starts to crumble — with Zoe right in the middle.

If you’re looking for a fun urban fantasy with a great cast of characters, look no further than The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty.

The book follows, Zoë, the newly hired managing editor of Underground Publishing, a publishing firm making a guide to New York City aimed at the coterie (non-humans) of the city. Zoë is the only human at the company, with the story following her getting acclimated to this new world she did not know existed.

Snippets of The Shambling Guide to New York City (the book they are publishing, not the actual book) are interspersed throughout the book. It reminds me of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, but for demons.

Zoë is such a realistic protagonist. She’s thrust into this world of demons, but she’s no Buffy. She’s a real person, and has the same fighting ability that a normal human would have. There’s a moment when the group is fighting and she’s tired, and she has thoughts of how she would rather just go to sleep than have to deal with these demons. She’s clearly way in over her head at some points.

She’s not some hero who is wanting to to risk her life at every moment to save the day. She’s just a regular girl, trying to fit in at a new job and get this book published.

That’s not to say she’s lazy. She’s not constantly staying out of danger, but it’s those small moments when she’s reflecting on what the heck she is doing there, and what responsibility she has to “save the day.” She’s not some chosen one, after all.

Basically what I’m saying is Zoë’s my favorite and I’m so happy there’s a sequel to this book so I can have MORE.

Other than Zoë, another thing that I love so much about this book was the unique spin Mur Lafferty put on the urban fantasy genre. In this book, the demons are friends, not the enemy. Well, for the most part anyway…

I loved learning about all these different demons and their quirks. She invents a lot of unique characteristics for these characters and this world, but not in a way that feels like it’s trying to be overly quirky and original. All of Lafferty’s inventions seem genuine and fit in with the world she’s created.

I also love how well she incorporated humor into the story. It makes it such a fun take on the urban fantasy genre. It actually reminded me a bit of The Dresden Files in that regard.

The pacing in this book was really good. Once I got going, I read the book in two days. The writing flows so well that I always wanted to keep going to learn more about this world.

I enjoyed this book so much more than I thought I would have, and I’m so glad I picked it up. I highly, highly, highly recommend it.

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