Review of Relics by Tim Lebbon

There’s an underground black market for arcane things. Akin to the trade in rhino horns or tigers’ bones, this group trafficks in mummified satyrs, gryphons’ claws, and more. 
When Angela Gough’s lover Vince goes missing, she sets out to find him whatever the risk. She learns that he was employed by the infamous London crime lord Frederick Meloy, providing bizarre objects beyond imagining. Descending into the city’s underbelly, she uncovers a deadly side to the black market. It might have claimed Vince, and Angela may be next. 

I was contacted by the publisher, Titan Books, to review book 3 in this series which sounded amazing, they then very kindly sent me the first 2 books in the series to bring me up to speed and Relics is the first. Having only read the press release for book 3, I went into Relics completely blind which I do like doing from time to time, I was really surprised by this story as much of it was not as it seemed and it is far from a by numbers missing persons style case.

Relics brings magical realism to a whole new level I really enjoyed how it brought mysticism and mythical creatures and objects to the fore in a way I hadn’t imagined before. The imagery is intense in places, and I have to admit that some of it has stayed with me – I don’t tend to read horror for this reason and I didn’t expect it in this urban fantasy. However, the horror and gore elements didn’t overtake the story though thankfully, but fox lovers should brace themselves.  Tim Lebbon does an amazing job of conveying terror and doesn’t shy away from the details which are technicolor in this tale. It pretty detailed in its world building and we get a lot of explanation as to how things come to be and how collectors and collections have come to prominence.

Honestly I would have loved the story to have focused more on Vince, he’s infinitely the more interesting character of the 2 protagonists and I think that’s a lot of where the story fell down at times as I really struggled to identify with Angela as a character.  I just didn’t find her very likeable and so didn’t really feel drawn into caring when she was in mortal danger. However, that isn’t true of all the characters and there were some scenes that I felt completely drawn in to as there are several characters to find a lot to love about, no Nymph shenanigens included. The big bads worked in a monster of the week way, I get the feeling that each of the stories will bring a new foe and each will have their weaknesses to find

Strangely, it was the epilogue that really sold the story for me, I love an epilogue at the best of times but this totally set up how the next in the series comes about whilst cleverly avoiding the “admin” style of chapters that it would have taken to get there. Its actually made me feel pretty excited to continue the series as it’s breaking free of the constraints Relics placed itself under. Ultimately I found Relics to be a staging novel, setting things up for future books in the series, a scene setter if you like. Whilst the world building is rock solid the story underneath wasn’t quite what I was expecting but I’m hoping that the page turning intrigue of the epilogue is a sign of things to come because this is shaping up to a series that could achieve great things!

3*

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