Her name is Pete Caldecott. She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete's eyes—or so she thought. Now a detective, Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tipster's chilling prediction has led police directly to the child…but when Pete meets the informant, she's shocked to learn he is none other than Jack. Strung out on heroin, Jack a shadow of his former self. But he's able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget's kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey. Even though she's spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago…
About the Author
Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the Nocturne City and Black London series, as well as several short stories. She started writing novels at age 13, and after a few years writing screenplays, comic books and fan-fiction, she wrote Night Life, her debut novel. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. She's lucky enough to write full time and watches far too many trashy horror movies. She lives in Olympia, Washington.
Caitlin Kittredge is the author of the Nocturne City and Black London series, as well as several short stories. She started writing novels at age 13, and after a few years writing screenplays, comic books and fan-fiction, she wrote Night Life, her debut novel. She is the proud owner of an English degree, two cats, a morbid imagination, a taste for black clothing, punk rock, and comic books. She’s lucky enough to write full time and watches far too many trashy horror movies. She lives in Olympia, Washington.
Read an Excerpt
By Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2009 Caitlin Kittredge
All rights reserved.
Michaelmas daisies bloomed around Pete Caldecott's feet the day she met Jack Winter, just as they had twelve years ago on the day he died.
That day, the unassuming tomb in a back corner of Highgate Cemetery was overrun with the small purple flowers. Jack crushed them under his boots as he levered the mausoleum door open.
Fear had stirred in Pete's stomach as the tomb breathed out bitter-smelling air. "Jack, I don't know about all this."
He flashed a smile. "Afraid, luv? Don't be. I'm here, after all."
Biting her lip, Pete put one foot over the threshold of the tomb, then the other. A wind whispered out from the shadowed depths and ruffled her school skirt around her knees. She backed out of the doorway immediately. "We shouldn't be here, Jack."
He sighed, pushing a hand through his bleached crop of hair. It stood out in wild spikes, gleaming in the low light. His hair was the first thing Pete had seen of Jack in Fiver's club three months ago, molten under the stage lights as he gripped his microphone like a dying man and screamed.
"Don't be a ninny, Pete. Nothing in here is going to bite you. Not yet, anyway." The devil-grin appeared on his face again. Jack held out his hand to her. "Come into my parlor."
Pete grasped his hand, felt where the ridges of his fingers were callused from playing guitar, and used the warm shiver it sent through her to propel herself into the tomb. The stone structure was bigger than it appeared from the outside and her hard-soled shoes rang on the stone when she planted her stride firmly. She hugged herself to ward off the chill.
"I'm not a ninny."
Jack laughed and tossed the green canvas satchel he'd brought into a corner. "Sorry. Must have been thinking of your sister."
Pete punched him in the shoulder. "That's your girlfriend you're slagging off. You're wicked."
Jack caught her hand again and folded it into his, eyes darkening when Pete didn't pull away. "You don't know the half of it."
Pete met his stare, listening to them both breathe for a moment before she disengaged her hand. "Thought you said we were here to do some magic, Jack."
Jack cleared his throat and moved away from her. "So I did." He pulled a piece of chalk from his pocket and began drawing a crooked circle on the flags, one that quickly grew lines and squiggles radiating toward the center. "And we will, luv. Just got to set up some preparations to ensure everything stays nice and nonthreatening for your first time."
The way he said it could have made any of Pete's classmates at Our Lady of Penitence blush. "Jack, why'd you bring me?" she asked abruptly. "This pagan demon-worshipper crap is MG's thing, not mine. I shouldn't even be alone with you. You're far too old."
"I'm twenty-six," Jack protested. He finished the circle, which had grown into something that resembled a cage, giving Pete the sense of flat, cold iron. Jack took two fat candles, black and white, from his satchel. "You act like I've got one foot in the sodding grave, you do."
And I'm sixteen, Pete had whispered to herself. And if MG ever found out the two of us have been alone — if Da ever found out ...
"I asked you to come along because I need you," Jack said, sitting back on his heels. His serious tone pulled Pete back from imagining what if MG witnessed the scene. Her sister could throw a fit akin to a nuclear explosion. And Da — he'd send Pete to a convent, or a tower, or wherever angry fathers sent recalcitrant daughters in fairy tales.
Pete blinked. "Why on earth would you need me?"
Jack brushed the chalk dust off his hands and stood, patting the pockets of his battered black jeans. "Let's see — you're sensible, cool in crisis, rather adorable. What bloke wouldn't want you about?"
"Shut your gob," Pete muttered. "What'd MG say, she heard you talking like that?"
"MG," said Jack. "MG knows what I'm about. She wouldn't say a bloody thing, because she won't ask and I won't tell her." He searched his studded jacket next, without fruition. "Bloody fucking hell. You got a light?"
Pete dug in her school bag and found her Silk Cut and disposable lighter, hidden inside a tampon box. MG might treat Pete indifferently at best, but she did teach her a few good tricks.
"Cheers," Jack said when she tossed it to him, lighting the candles and placing them at the head and foot of the circle. The longer Pete looked at it, the more her eyes hurt and her head rang, so she looked away, at the bar of light that was the door back to the world.
"Almost there ..." Jack muttered. He pulled his flick-knife from a hidden pocket — or maybe it just appeared, in the dim light Pete couldn't be sure — and pricked his finger, squeezing three precise droplets over the chalk.
Pete had watched Jack work magic before, simple street tricks like disappearing cards, the queen of spades slipping between his thin fingers, or small conjurations like a cigarette that came from the packet already lit.
But here, in the tomb, Pete remembered thinking, it was different. It was real magic. Silly, of course, that, through and through. She was the daughter of a police inspector, and the Caldecott family — less MG — didn't put stock in that sort of thing. But Jack ... Jack made you believe, with his very existing. He crackled the air around him like a changeling among men. People looked into his eyes and believed, because you could see a devil dancing in the bright flame of his soul.
Jack Winter was magic.
"Ready?" Jack asked from the head of the circle. Pete felt something wild and electric settle around them, like a phantom storm brushing her face with rain.
"What should I do?" Pete asked. Jack beckoned to her and hissed when she almost scuffed over some of the markings.
"Mind the edge, luv. Wouldn't want you lopped off at the knees."
"Bloody hell, really?" Pete asked, eyeing the circle circumspectly. She wasn't her sister, nattering on about "the energy," but she knew, in a way that was deep and brooked no logical argument, that she had stepped into something otherworldly when she came to this place with Jack. He radiated a power she could taste on her tongue.
"The circle won't hurt you," Jack admitted, stroking the darker stubble at his jaw. "But don't disturb the sigils. You don't want what'll be inside on the outside. Trust me." He took Pete's hand as she got close and raised the flick-knife. Pete jerked, but he was too quick, scoring a neat crosscut on her palm.
"Ow!" Pete said in irritation. All of the questions she should have asked raced to mind in a sick sensation of falling and the excitement of a moment ago washed away on a red tide of fear.
She hadn't asked why they'd come here, sneaked past the admissions booth at the cemetery gates and broken into this tomb, hadn't pressed Jack on purpose, because then she'd get scared, and Jack was never scared. Not when a pack of skinheads made trouble in Fiver's. Not of Da, DI Caldecott himself, who had chased off every one of MG's previous deadbeat boyfriends. Jack just extended a hand and a smile and people would throw themselves off Tower Bridge to stand next to him, to reap a little of the danger that seemed to permeate everything he touched.
As the chalk soaked up her blood, the sigils fading to red like a blushing cheek, Pete knew she didn't want to pull back. Questions be damned. Jack wanted — needed — her here, and she was here.
"You all right, luv?" Jack said, pressing a tattered handkerchief over her cut and closing her fist around it.
"I'm fine. I'm ready," Pete said. She wouldn't think about what might crawl out of a tomb under Jack's deft hands, nor about how mad her believing that Jack had power was in the first place. She'd just know that he picked her, Pete Caldecott, who never had friends or friends who were boys, and bollocks to a boyfriend — if she had one of those, she'd go buy a lotto ticket. Jack Winter, magician and singer for the Poor Dead Bastards, needed Pete with him in this old dark place.
Jack guided Pete to the black candle at the foot of the circle, and she made sure to stand ramrod straight so he'd know she wasn't scared, not a bit, wasn't thinking this was a bit dodgy and odd. Not Pete.
"Now you hold on to me," Jack said, lacing their fingers together in a blood-smeared lattice across the markings on the floor. "And whatever happens, you keep holding on — all right?"
"What might happen that'd make me let go?" Pete's stomach churned into overdrive.
Standing at his spot by the white candle, Jack flashed her the devil-grin one more time. "That's what we're going to find out."
He started to speak Irish, long passages, rhythmic. It sounded like it should be solemn, intoned by robed priests over a stone altar, but Jack half slurred through the stanzas as though he were reciting lyrics to one of his songs and had a few pints in him while he did it.
For a moment, nothing happened. Pete looked at Jack through her lashes, half feeling pity because he seemed so set on something odd or spooky taking place.
And then something did.
Pete felt the pull, the separation of things that were comfortable and real from the dark place behind her eyes. Something was swirling up, through the layers of the veil between Pete and Jack and what lay beyond, and she could almost see it, a welter of black smoke growing in the center of the circle as Jack raised his voice, chanting rhythmically now that the fruits of his spell were visible. The chalk lines clung like bone fingers, holding the smoke-shape in place.
Jack's eyes flamed blue as the spell snapped into place, and the fire traveled over the planes of his cheeks and his arms and hands and blossomed all around him as Pete gasped, and the thing in the circle grew more and more solid.
The shape was human, a wicker man of smoke. The chalk lines did not hold it for more than a moment, and it fixated on Pete, eyeless but staring through her all the same. And then it was moving, in a straight and inexorable line, right for her. The primitive cold in her gut told Pete something was horribly wrong.
"Jack?" Her voice was high and unrecognizable to her own ears. The wicker man had a face now, and hints of silver in its eye sockets, and hands with impossibly long fingers that reached out, clawed at her. Whispers crowded Pete's brain, and a pressure fell on her skull so unbearable that she screamed, loudly.
And Jack, where was Jack? He stood watching the smoke with a measured eye, as if Pete were the mouse and he were the python enthusiast.
"Jack," she said again, summoning every steady nerve in her body to speak. "What is it?"
He bent to one knee and quickly chalked a symbol on the floor. "Bínasctha," he breathed.
The wicker man stumbled, like a drunk or a man who just had a heavy load thrown on him. But he walked still, one foot straight in front of the other.
"Ah, tits," hissed Jack. He rechalked the symbol, and still the wicker man walked.
"Jack." She said it loudly, echoingly so, the first fissures of real panic opening in her gut.
"Shut it, will you!" he demanded. Pete saw from his expression that he was finally catching on to what she knew — never mind how; it had fallen into her head when that terrible pressure had eased, like waking up and suddenly knowing the answer to last night's math homework. She just knew, as if she'd experienced this ritual a thousand times before, that Jack's magic was awry and now the smoke man was awake and walking the world.
"Is that all you can say?" she cried. "Jack, do something!"
He tried. Pete would always say that, when she had to talk about the day, even though her memories of the whole event were thin and unreliable by choice. He tried. And when Jack tried to keep the wicker man from her, all that he got for his efforts was screaming, and blackness, and blood.CHAPTER 2
The sign on the building, half off its hinges, optimistically proclaimed HOTEL. Underneath, in smaller gold script that had faded, "Grand Montresor."
The tiny purple asters grew all around the crumbling concrete steps, forcing their way out of the cracks in a great spray of example for nature versus man.
Pete stepped over them, careful to avoid crushing any blossoms, and pushed her way into bleach-scented gloom. The Montresor, like the whole of the block around it, had seen better days and couldn't remember exactly when they were. It stood out like a dark pock on the face of Bloomsbury, and Pete wondered why information always had to be garnered in the filthiest, most shadowy places of her city.
A clerk straight out of The Vampyre ruffled his Hello! magazine in annoyance when Pete came to reception. "Yeah?"
"Could you tell me about the person staying in room twenty-six?" Pete said, trying to sound bright and official. It took more than a forced smile and a chipper tone to garner a reaction from the clerk, for he just grunted.
Pete unfolded the note Oliver Heath, her desk mate at the Metropolitan Police, had handed her. "Grand Montresor, Bloomsbury by King's Cross. Room 26 @ 3 P.M." "Said he had information on the Killigan child-snatching." Ollie had shrugged, the gesture expansive as his Midlands drawl, when she'd questioned him. "Said that the lead inspector were to come alone, and not be late."
Bridget Killigan. Six years old. Disappeared from her primary-school playground when her father was late fetching her. In normal cases Pete advised the parents to be hopeful, that children were usually found, that nothing would happen to their family. Because in normal cases, the child was snatched by a parent in a custody case or an older schoolmate as a prank, or simply said Bugger this and ran off on their own, only to be confounded by the tube system and get stranded in Brixton. Strangers took children in folktales, not Pete Caldecott's London.
Even so, when the Killigan case came to Pete, she got that sink in her chest that always heralded an unsolvable crime. Bridget had no divorced parents, no creepy uncles. The girl had been taken by a figment with no ties to the world Pete could discover, and she knew, in the leaden and otherworldly way she just knew some things, that the only way they'd find Bridget Killigan would be dead.
The clerk was giving her the eye, so Pete showed her warrant card. "Does the lift work?" she asked.
The clerk snorted. "What d'you think, Inspector?"
Pete sighed resignedly and mounted the stairs. She'd been meaning to get more time at the gym, hadn't she? One didn't become a twenty-eight-year-old detective inspector without spending every waking moment plastered to a case. At least, one didn't if one didn't want to endure the whispers about DI Caldecott the elder and how he'd worked for his position, he had, wasn't right how some young slip just waltzed right in ...
Room 26 matched all the other doors in the hallway, robin's egg blue, like a door in a dirty London sky. Pete lifted her hand to knock and then dropped it. She'd tried to ignore that knowing, of course. You couldn't know things you hadn't deduced with fact. The feelings of tight pressure behind her eyes, the whispers of the future echoing down the time stream to her ears — those things were stress, or low blood sugar.
Not real. Had never been real. Maybe she'd had a good hunch a time or two, was all. She was good at her job. Nothing spooky about it.
Pete lifted her hand again and knocked this time, firmly and thrice. "C'min," someone mumbled from behind the door." 'S open."
"Not very smart in this city," Pete replied, knowing the best she could hope for on the other side of the door was a shifty-eyed informant who had heard some fifth-hand story about Bridget Killigan and needed a few quid.
She turned the knob and stepped in, keeping her chin up on the off chance that it was a shifty-eyed axe murderer, instead. "I'm DI Caldecott. You wanted to speak about Bridget Killigan?"
He was slouched on the sill, a lit cigarette dangling from his lower lip. The sun was low over King's Cross and it lit up the man's platinum-dyed hair, a halo over a dirty hollow-cheeked face.
"Yes," said Jack Winter, exhaling smoke through his nose. "I did."
He'd been bloody and still the last time Pete saw him. Eyes staring at the ceiling of another's tomb. Pete could only stare for a moment, and her heart fluttered as the two images of Jack overlaid one another, spattering blood droplets and pain across the living incarnation's face. He'd been so still.
Younger, too. Bigger. A body gained from nights sleeping on a floor and fights outside the club after his sets. That was gone now. Jack was all sharp corners and creases. He flicked his ash on the sill and unfolded his long arms and legs, gesturing Pete to the bed.
"Sit, if you like."
Pete couldn't have, not if God himself commanded it. She was rooted surely as an old oak.
Excerpted from Street Magic by Caitlin Kittredge. Copyright © 2009 Caitlin Kittredge. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I really enjoyed this book, so much so I was not able to put it down until I was through the whole thing. I really enjoyed the banter between the two main characters, Pete & Jack. They really have one heck of a love/hate relationship. The British slang was a great touch as well. It took me a little bit to get what they ment, but when I caught on to the meanings I absolutely loved it. I got such a kick out of the slang even when it was in anger. There where a few moments I got slightly confused with the flashes to the dreams that Pete was having then to reality. It took me a moment to catch on to what was going on, then to switch my thinking. But, it didn't take me long as I went through the book to catch on and know what to look for, and in learning the authors writting style it became easier for me to pick the dreams out. I really liked Jack's character more from the beginning. To me there seemed to be more layers to him than appeared to the others in the story. To me I thought he out shined Pete through most of the book, but by the end of the book Pete had taken her place right up there by/with Jack. In the end of the book I realized how much Pete had grown as a character through the book, and loved her for it. Jack's character grew as well but not by the leaps and bounds that Pete did. I know there is a short story of Jack in the book Huntress, which hold a few short stories by four different authors. I have this book on my shelf in my to be read pile. But, the second book in the Black London Novel series is Demon Bound. Based on the preview at the back of the book, Street Magic, it looks as it is to be released December 2009. I will be watching the shelves for this on in December.
I enjoyed really this story. Pete Caldecott is a tough cop on the hunt for a sadistic killer who kidnaps children. This story is dark and gritty and set in a seedy dark London, where magic exists but is hidden. Twelve years prior, Pete as a young girl and Jack Winters, a young mage, experience a trauma so deep Jack turns to heroine to escape. Going cold turkey and getting clean, Jack assists Pete with her investigation and inadvertently submerges her into the dangerous shadow realm. Pete is a strong heroine and reminds me a lot of Luna's character from Caitlin's Nocturne City. Thankfully Pete isn't as reckless and self-destructive as Luna. I highly recommend this new series to dark urban fantasy readers and look forward to the next book in the series, Demon Bound due out 12/1/09.
I really didn't like this book. I kept reading it because I thought it would get better -- but it never did. The characters were not well developed. I read alot of books like this and the plot was boring and thoroughly unbelieveable.
A Blurb: Pete Caldecott has a dark past, a past that she has vowed to keep buried in the darkest depths of her memories, but her nightmares are getting worse making it difficult to sleep. Pete is a detective and her current case is finding children that are disappearing. When she receives a request from an informant to meet him, alone, she is shocked to find out that it's Jack Winter, a huge part of that dark past that she thought was dead and gone. The once punk rocker who mesmerized her when she was 16 is there in the flesh and strung out on heroin. He might be screwed up, but his tip leads her directly to the missing girl. When more children go missing, she finds herself going back to Jack for help. They will have to face some dark powers that may very well get them both killed, but Pete knows that working with Jack is the only way to save the kids (and themselve) before it's too late. The Review: Pete Caldecott, our heroine, is tough as nails, but not in an overly done annoying way. She can stick up for herself, and isn't the type that needs rescuing, nor does she want it. Jack Winter, the hero, is rough around the edges and extremely powerful. The two have great chemistry and the tension between them could bring grown men to their knees. Fans will love this new duo, and will be left sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for more. Street Magic is a gritty, dark, and thrilling addition to the Urban Fantasy genre. Being based in London gives the book a gloomy feel with it's foggy streets and shadows lurking in every corner. Kittredge not only has a way with words, but a way with worlds. She's a master at creating new and edgy places for her characters to dwell in. Making both of her series a pleasure to read. For Street Magic , she does a terrific job of using British slang without overdoing it, and this makes the book even more enjoyable. You'll probably have learned a few new words for daily use after reading this one! So how about it? Get your sodding arses out to the bookstore and pick this one up! :)
In London, sixteen year old Pete Caldecott met handsome mage Jack Winter. The punk rocker showed off his magical skills trying to impress the teen. However, Pete witnessed more than she wanted to see when a spirit he summoned killed Jack. Over time Pete assumed Jack used an illusion to fool her as magic is not physics since it does not exist.----------- A dozen years layer Detective Inspector Pete receives a tip about a kidnapped girl Bridget. The tip proves reliable, but the informant shocks the DI to her DNA core; somehow Jack is back or at least a heroin addicted version of him. He insists there is a parallel realm the Black. With several more abductions of children, Jack convinces Pete to cross over to fight against an evil kidnapper with paranormal power. She agrees to travel to the shadow realm and learn how to use spells if he detoxes ---------- Leaving Nocturne City for now, Caitlin Kittredge proves she has STREET MAGIC with the super first Black London urban fantasy. Inspector Pete is a terrific center of gravity as a police detective who holds the eerie exciting story line together, but it is the dark gritty streets of London that she works enhanced by shadowy Jack that owns the tale. A sort of cross between Simon Green's Nightside and Jim Butcher's Dresden, sub-genre fans will appreciate Ms. Kittredge's view of a gloomy paranormal London.---- Harriet Klausner
I wanted to like this after enjoying Kittredge's Nocturne City series and having spent four years outside of London while growing up but just couldn't. The story was okay but it was the constant brow beating language and slang thrown at the reader that never allowed me to enjoy it. Whether it was my personal experience, British TV, British novels or friends from England, I have never, ever heard, seen or read dialogue like this. It reminds me of a person who has never lived in New York City trying to write what they imagine an accent should sound like. It never really works and just detracts from the story. Reading other reviews I know I am not the only one who has this complaint so it is something you may want to keep in mind if you are contemplating this novel. If you are interesting in an urban fantasy tale based in England I would recommend you read a British book instead of this. Simon R. Green, Kate Griffin and Mike Carey won't butcher their own language just to sell you on where their books take place.
This is a short book (335 pp) which I picked up for free at the Connotations Book Mooch in Oct. It says something that I started reading it that weekend and only finished it a week or so ago.I was drawn to the Black London setting (a London where magic takes place both in and out of a sort of parallel-ish dimension) rather than the actual premise (Teen heroine, Pete, meets older bad boy mage, Jack, who is seemingly killed in front of her. Pete grows up to be a policewoman and is investigating the case of a missing girl when she comes face to face with Jack, who is most definitely not dead.)Alas I should've spent more time reading the inside notes because the book is written by an American chick living in Seattle who has based her novel in London and her hero is a bad boy from Manchester.Though there is a relatively decent plot buried somewhere in the book it's overshadowed by (a) two protagonists who seem to spend all their time shouting and snarking at each other as if they were still teens (b) stupid, stupid mistakes on the Britpicking front (c) cringe inducing dialogue.Examples of the Britpicking which set my teeth on edge? Having the anti-hero go ito a pub and ask for "a pint of bitters" because seriously, if the bar staff are having an off day you will NOT get a pint of ale but something far less palatable. After Jack shoves through the gate onto the Tube Pete "swipes her Oyster card twice". Yeah right - that'll work. And making Pete's address: 221 Croydon Place, #32, London - this is not how our addresses work!The dialogue reads like badly written fanfic.One of the reviewers on Amazon had this to say about it: "the general effect is of something translated from another tongue by someone to whom UK English is a second language - grammatically accurate but the vocabulary use is just a bit off."Here's a hint - there's a style to cursing in the UK and that doesn't mean you scatter "bloody's", "bugger's" and a number of "sod's" and "git's" every few words, cross your fingers and hope for the best. If the bad boy mage is a bit of a lad from Manchester then he'll be dropping the f-bomb all over the place not sounding like a weird 50s fop or some pre-teen who hasn't yet learned how to cuss properly. Also adding "all" to "bugger" does not emphasise, but rather completely changes, the meaning.I also think she must have had a product placement deal with whatever company makes Parliament cigarettes. We're introduced to Jack and told he smokes Parliaments (not a brand I would associate with a UK smoker) and then every time it's all "Pete takes Jack's Parliament", "Jack cups his hand and lights a Parliament" until it becomes teeth grindingly intrusive.To any Brit reader, or American who has spent time in the UK, the dialogue is just going to sound wrong. The colloquialisms are off, there's precious little difference in style between Jack and Pete's speech patterns and Jack particularly, ends up sounding like a cross between Spike and Sid Vicious with the cod Britpseak.As a plot point too - Pete is supposed to be a detective yet spends the entire novel bunking off work running rounds London with a junkie ex-mage barely ever calling in. I doubt if the Met bosses give their staff quite as much freedom as Pete seems to have.Also if you want me to invest in Pete as a serious female heroine it would help if on meeting wasted junkie Jack that she didn't revert to talking and acting like a starry eyed teen experiencing her first crush.So um...that'd be a Thumbs Down for Kittredge and Street Magic (which was the first in the Black London series). I won't be reading the rest.
Review courtesy of All Things Urban FantasySTREET MAGIC is one of the best series launches I¿ve read in a long time. It really just scrapes the surface of this world and these characters, and yet Wow does it pack a punch. The writing is tight and specific. We don¿t ever get bogged down with physical descriptions of people and places, but I still know exactly what everyone looks like and I felt very much like I¿d visited all the London locations in STREET MAGIC. The plot is suitably sinister with a supernatural evil that every fiber of your being will long to destroy, but it¿s the relationship between Pete and Jack that really sets this book apart.Jack Winter is a new favorite character for me, and I say character rather than romantic lead because there is very little romantic about him. He¿s a complete train wreck of a person. The first time Pete sees him after a dozen years, he¿s an emaciated heroin junkie who lets fly a string of hyper crude profanity the moment he sees her. It¿s not exactly a meet-cute. With a handful of vitally important exceptions, Jack stays pretty much at that level of hostile wretchedness throughout the book. What does change is how we as readers perceive him as we learn more about him. No matter how many times he falls, Pete refuses to give up on him. She sees something worth saving and so do I.And I can¿t forget Pete. She¿s an amazingly tenacious woman. The realities she has to come face to face with in STREET MAGIC would have destroyed a weaker person, but she keeps getting back up, keeps fighting. She¿s not some Amazon warrior chick either. She works with her strengths and is aware of her weaknesses, but isn¿t afraid to get hurt. If the debut is any indication, the Black London series is a must read. A dark and twisted urban fantasy set in a London filled with truly evil demons, fae and malevolent magic users. The characters are broken in every possible way and yet they completely resonated with me. I¿m thoroughly invested in them so that it¿s not a question of if I¿ll be reading the rest of the series, it¿s a question of how soon can I get caught up. The 4th installment, DEVIL¿S BUSINESS, will be published on August 30, 2011. Sexual Content:Kissing. Pervasive crude sexual dialogue.
High Hopes, allow me to introduce you to Crushing Disappointment.I really wanted to like this book. Scratch that. I wanted to love it. I've been absolutely starved for another Urban Fantasy series that I could get obsessively attached to. Thus, when I heard that two of my favorite bloggers were recommending the Black London series by Caitlin Kittredge, I googled the books faster then I've ever googled anything before (well except maybe for semi-naked pictures of Jake Gyllenhaal). Anyways, being the discerning reader & consumer that I am, I of course decided to check out some more reviews prior to scrambling for my wallet. And as it turned out, some reviews were pretty bad. But despite having to tell my borderline manic excitement to slow its roll, I was still hopeful and determined to give Street Magic a try. So, I bum rushed the double doors of my local library and borrowed a copy STAT.My venture into Black London started off fairly well. I immediately liked the writing style, namely the rich descriptions and gritty edginess of the environments & characterizations. And I appreciated the fast pace and action...at least at first because as the story progressed the action became rather repetitive & redundant. Sadly, as I flipped the pages, I felt a hollow sensation creeping up inside me and quickly realized that I was not becoming emotionally engaged in the story. Quite the contrary, I felt utterly detached and couldn't bring myself to care for either one of the two protagonists.I like my characters flawed. I like them to be rough around the edges with a bit of attitude & a smidgen of broodiness. And I like to see them voyage through the murky gray area in between right and wrong. Therefore, I initially welcomed Pete and Jack with wide open arms. Unfortunately, like with most blind dates, the reasonably good first impression turned sour rather fast.Pete had potential to be likable. She was loyal, compassionate, and brave. However, she was also a card-carrying member of the TSTL club. This was made worse by the fact that Pete was supposed to be a superstar London detective. Yeah, I've seen mall cops act more professional than the nonsense Pete tried to pass off as police work. She did nothing by the book. Hell, she chucked the book out the window of her mini cooper, drove over it, and then backed up to drive over it again for good measure. She ran blindly head first into every situation without anything close to resembling a plan. She never told anyone where she was going or what she was doing. She ran her mouth off and physically assaulted people left & right without much rhyme or reason. It was just one stupid decision after another. On top of that, she had an extremely unhealthy infatuation with Jack, who did absolutely nothing to deserve her affection & devotion.Jack, bluntly put, was an asshole. I found nothing likable about him and he never managed to redeem himself in my eyes. He was self-absorbed, arrogant, apathetic, and immature. And no, this wasn't due to a 12-year heroin addiction. I wish it was. No, Jack by nature was a selfish, cocky bastard. Sure, he had a tough childhood and a rather unpleasant ability of seeing/hearing the dead, but I couldn't find anything positive enough about him to accept this as a legitimate excuse for his assholish personality & behavior. Perhaps in the proceeding books he manages to grow as a person and earn some respect, but in Street Magic he pretty much sucked.Finally, another thing that totally turned me off was the foul-mouthedness that ran rampant in this book like an ADHD kid on a sugar high. Listen, I'm not prudish. I don't mind a bit of cussing. I cuss too...in 3 languages (3.5 if you count what I picked up from Battlestar Galactica). Admittedly, I cuss more in my head then out loud, but that's besides the point. The thing is, the profanity in this book was way over-the-top and mixed in with British slang that felt really contrived. The "C" word was use
The debut of a new series from Kittredge, this book is much better than the Nocturne City books. The writing is tighter and more clever, the characters have more complexity, and the plot moves along at a better pace. If you're looking for a good dark and/or urban fantasy, I recommend giving this one a try. This series even improves with book two, 'Demon Bound', and I have high hopes for book three.
Street Magic is an exciting fast paced read. Prior to reading this new book I read Ms. Kittredge's first two books in her Nocturne City series and just loved her writing voice. Her characters take you on a journey of non-stop action. The writing isn't bogged down with unnecessary dialogue that you find in some dark fantasy books. I always find that refreshing. Pete and Jack are quiet interesting and have great chemistry. Their back and forth nagging at each other was amusing. The only problem I had with it were the names "Pete" and "Jack". I had to keep reminding myself that Pete is a chick. Otherwise I really enjoyed this first installment.
I really wanted to like this book. I keep hoping for a paranormal detective series that will grab me like the early Anita Blake books did and this definitely sounded promising - the fae, different kinds of magic, missing children, London setting - how could it miss?Well, it misses in various ways - dreadfully written Britishized dialogue with slang obviously written by an American, shallow to non-existent characterizations, plot holes large enough to drive several semi's through - the list goes on and on. I did finish this, but that's because I was on an airplane and my other books were packed in the bag I checked in. I did stop reading this and read all of the airline-provided reading material in the little seat pocket in front of me - the in-flight magazine, the catalog of stuff no one ever buys, and the seat card with safety instructions. Sadly, those materials didn't take up all of the time and I was forced to go back to this book and finish it. I will never ever travel without at least two books in my carry-on bag again.Dreadful.
When Pete Caldecott met the irresistible Jack Winter when she was 16 years old, she knew her life would never be the same again. Older and wiser with magic at his fingertips, Jack seemed to charge the very space his lived in. That is until Pete watched him get killed by a shadowy form he tried to summon from a graveyard. Flash forward 10 years and Pete is now a London detective with a string of cases involving missing children. After receiving a mysterious tip about their location, Pete discovers Jack strung-out on heroin with precise information about the kidnappings. Unwilling to let Jack fade back into obscurity, Pete forces him to not only sober up but to help her find the other children - although she doesn't believe in the possibility that magic is involved for a second. As the mystery begins to unfold, Pete is forced to confront her own past and the existence of sorcerers, demons and faeries.I found this to be a fun, fast-paced ride, albeit sometimes a little dark. Pete and Jack's relationship is full of angst arising from some huge misunderstandings those ten years ago and both are sure the other is lying about something. What I liked about Pete was how loyal she can be: to the missing kids, to Jack. It really made me like her even more. My only problem was how quickly Pete went from a no-nonsense detective to fist-throwing brawler ready to defend Jack. It really didn't seem in keeping with her 'toe the line of the law' persona. Other than that, the descriptions of a magical London underworld centered in Whitechapel were more than a little fun.
Street Magic is a dark, dark fantasy. The main character is so flawed. The secondary character is extremely flawed, in fact, he's a straight up asshole. Pete (a female cop) has issues - issues that I think a lot of women have (falling for the wrong man). She's also pretty tough and in some serious denial about her abilities. This is not one of those books where the "bad" character isn't really bad, this guy has some issues and uses to self-medicate (that's all our excuses!). There is no sudden soberness for him either, this guy screws up a few times. Jack, her sister's former boyfriend is an addict. A strong magic wielding lost little-boy heroin addict. They end up working together, feeling strong dislike for each other to help find some missing children. Somehow, all this works. The story is full of surprises, dark fantasy figures, and bad things happen to people. There is also a nice mix of modern life, mixed in with legendary fae mythology.There is a lot of action in the novel, and Pete begins to come to an acceptance of herself, as well as slowly learning that there's more to life than meets the eye. The dialogue between the main characters is wonderful. They say some nice things to each other, they say some horrible things to each other. There is absolutely NO sex in this book. Refreshingly, the characters aren't suddenly falling into bed with each other at an odd time, or suddenly making out with each other, although you can tell that at one time they were attracted to each other.I was reading about very flawed people, who do some not very nice things, and I wanted to keep reading. I was really enjoying the not-so-perfect characters. I think that this book is way better than Caitlin Kittredge's Nocturne books (which I do enjoy). Even though the characters were so....broken and flawed, they still persevered. They egged each other on, and all the way through the book there was just the teeniest bit of possibility that things would work out. The sequel to this, Demon Bound is available now, and I'm so glad that I won it in a contest, because it's sitting on my shelf right now. Until I finished Street Magic, I wouldn't have felt like buying the sequel, and I would have missed out on a very good series.A good book to have your fantasy shelf
I really enjoyed this book, so much so I was not able to put it down until I was through the whole thing. I really enjoyed the banter between the two main characters, Pete & Jack. They really have one heck of a love/hate relationship. The British slang was a great touch as well. It took me a little bit to get what they ment, but when I caught on to the meanings I absolutely loved it. I got such a kick out of the slang even when it was in anger.There where a few moments I got slightly confused with the flashes to the dreams that Pete was having then to reality. It took me a moment to catch on to what was going on, then to switch my thinking. But, it didn't take me long as I went through the book to catch on and know what to look for, and in learning the authors writting style it became easier for me to pick the dreams out.I really liked Jack's character more from the beginning. To me there seemed to be more layers to him than appeared to the others in the story. To me I thought he out shined Pete through most of the book, but by the end of the book Pete had taken her place right up there by/with Jack. In the end of the book I realized how much Pete had grown as a character through the book, and loved her for it. Jack's character grew as well but not by the leaps and bounds that Pete did.I know there is a short story of Jack in the book Huntress, which hold a few short stories by four different authors. I have this book on my shelf in my to be read pile. But, the second book in the Black London Novel series is Demon Bound. Based on the preview at the back of the book, Street Magic, it looks as it is to be released December 2009. I will be watching the shelves for this on in December.
Better than I expected! This fun, interesting, unique urban fantasy novel had me hooked from the very beginning. It has its issues - the written British accent is a little much at times, the supporting characters are either thin or nonexistent, and the plot seems to get a bit sidetracked. But, on the other hand, the main characters are well-drawn, the plot unpredictable and fast-paced, and Kittredge turns urban fantasy staples into strange, one of a kind elements in an intriguing world. Overall, this book exceeded my expectations. I thoroughly enjoyed it and will probably pick up the second one in the series.
Detective Inspector Pete Caldecott is determined to find the person responsible for the abduction of Bridget Killigen even though her sixth sense is telling her she will be too late. When she receives a tip from a potential informant the last person she ever expected to see is Jack Winter, her sister's former boyfriend, magician and singer...and the man she saw die at the hands of a nightmare over a decade earlier. Jack is a shade of his former self and an addict. He is also the only one who seems to have a connection to whatever is kidnapping young children and for that reason alone Pete will keep Jack close at hand, whether he wants to be there or not.This story was a very different read for me and lots of fun simply because it was very British in setting, attitude and language. It is a good thing I had a "Harry Potter" primer on British slang or I might have been a little lost LOL! Also, the story was engrossing, with a very interesting way of having the characters perceive where they were at any given moment, flipping between the real world and The Dark places. The characters played well off of each other. I did have a little difficulty getting used to "Pete" as a girl's name and for the longest time was confused as to who "Connor" was. I'm used to calling my parents mom and dad, and never think to use their first names myself. I liked the idea of Jack being an addict and for what could be good reason. There is some 'shippy tension to the relationship between Jack and Pete, and the story really centers around these two characters together, but there is certainly no actual "romance" involved in the story. I'm hoping that maybe the sequel will have a little more in that department. I think that this was a very well put together, edgy, dark urban fantasy with a very strong female lead who isn't as abrasive as some I've read in the past. Certainly this is a series I have an interest in following, at least into the next book.
Somebody said, 'Ooh, urban fantasy is hot -- think I'll write a book!'
Though I loved Caitlin Kittredge's Nocturne City series, I couldn't get into this one. The characters tried to be gritty, tough, and conflicted but came across as pathetic and unfocused. For a police officer, Pete seemed to float from one situation to another with very little purpose and direction. The author introduced characters with no explanations and unrelated events popped into the plot - maybe a setup for the next book? British slang and profanity overwhelmed the dialog. Maybe the second book gets better but I doubt that I will read it.