17 February 2013

Review: The Dirty Streets of Heaven

The Dirty Streets of Heaven
The Dirty Streets of Heaven by Tad Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I'm not sure if I'd go as far as to call Tad Williams a favorite author, but he created so much good will with me considering how amazing Otherland is that I will pretty much go after anything he writes. Some of it will be solid (Shadowmarch and the like), some good but different (War of the Flowers), some might not work, like some of his short stuff.

The Dirty Streets of Heaven is an urban fantasy wrapped within religious warfare, and it's a great concept. Bobby Dollar is an angel who collects souls and defends their cases to get those souls into heaven. He gets caught up in an inter-planary conflict that really throws a lot of theology and order in disarray, and it's a fun world that's been created for what's going on.

The issue with this is part me and part the book. It's part me because I struggle a lot with urban fantasy, and this was no different in that regard. I spend so much time getting invested in the world that the story seems to falter as a result. There's a good comparison to Three Parts Dead setting-wise that's worth noting, but the issue with me is that I liked the way the angels and hell demons played off each other. The issue with the book is that it simply becomes too many things. Is it a murder mystery? A treatise on belief? A standard boilerplate urban fantasy? In reality, it's many/all of those things and more, and the result ends up being a bit frustrating on a whole.

I honestly feel like this is Williams's first actual miss for me, and it still might appeal quite well to people who enjoy this genre and who have more tolerance for it. As it stands, I doubt I'll look out for the second book in this series and be patiently awaiting the next series that comes out.

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