When a book is promised to follow in the footsteps of the marvellous Neil Gaiman; I’m always wary. There’s very few who can justify that claim. While I understand how that comparison can be made with this book, Sixty-One nails is an excellent fae fantasy story in its own right.
It is a similar vein to Neverwhere; centring upon a middle-aged man, who is accidentally brought into a world of fairies and magic that is quite simply outside of his comprehension. The plot leads us around London, with much of it tied into the setting. While the history of London is a key element of the plot, it doesn’t have the same symbiosis Neverwhere does; although if you enjoyed Neverwhere, this book will probably have the same appeal.
Folklore is intricately tied into the plotline; travelling via lay lines and fairies being unable to touch iron are a few examples. However the relationship between the human world and the fairy world isn’t explored well in this book; it seems to be too at odds. It was hard to understand how a semi-harmonious state had been achieved. The close of the novel though suggests this will be explored in the second of the series.
Niall is a good lead character, with enough disbelief and common reactions to the strange events that befall him to gain your trust and sympathy. Blackbird is less easy to connect with, and I still find it difficult to picture her completely. Although her strength, power and wisdom can be seen clearly, her vulnerability appears suddenly, in an almost cliché way. Not enough time is given to her as a character, so when the relationship begins between them, it’s difficult to understand the connection.
I did enjoy this novel, and the plot was strong throughout; will be reading the next in the series.