She Who Waits. Book Review

SWWSHE WHO WAITS by Daniel Polansky

Hodder & Stoughton, h/b, 416pp, £18.99

Reviewed by Elloise Hopkins

Low Town. Times are changing. Loyalties shifting. Drug dealers clashing. A new product on the market. A brutal murder. And once again Warden finds himself dragged into the middle of it all. Turns out this isn’t the first brutal and out of character murder of recent weeks, and unless someone with his proficiency connects the pieces it will be up to Warden to save the day, again.

And on top of all that Warden has Wren, the former street urchin, to take care of. Three years on and Wren is still under the tutelage of Mazzie of the Stained Bone, a dangerous character, but a necessity to teach the boy how to control his power and keep his abilities concealed from Black House at the same time. He’s a fast learner but has outgrown both of them – Warden in height if not in street smarts, and Mazzie in the Art. Willingly or not, it is time for things to change.

With a powerful opening She Who Waits thrusts us straight back into Low Town, straight back into Warden’s dark humour and darker existence, and straight back into another grim murder. It is time for Warden to play investigator and all round troubleshooter once again. Any who doubted that the noir detective and high fantasy could blend so well are proven wrong with this series.

In this third volume we learn more about our anti-hero and get a deeper sense of how and why he keeps Low Town, his kingdom, running. We learn what life was like when he was a rising star in Black House and what put him back on the streets afterwards. We also meet some new but no less dubious and unsavoury characters from Warden’s day to day business, and unfortunately some from his past that had better stayed there.

Events become more personal to Warden this time, connecting the reader with him in his brightest and lowest moments. His recollections of love are particularly touching, and truthfully honest. This character, so conflicted in himself, feels so very real because of it. Polansky delivers another captivating and haunting narrative and a moving conclusion to Warden’s tale. We can only hope this is not the last we will see of Low Town.