Today is my second book review for the 52 Books by 52 Publishers reading challenge, and this time the publisher is:
About Urbane Publications:
Are you always searching for that next great book, the joy of discovering a new author, a new plot, thrilling new worlds and characters, or simply enjoying the printed and digital page?
We are. So much so that we decided to start sharing our love of words with you. Urbane Publications is a new and exciting independent publisher dedicated to developing and producing the books you want to read – hip, contemporary, groundbreaking fiction and non-fiction designed to entertain, excite, and engage.
Our team has been involved in the publishing industry for over 20 years, as booksellers, publishers and even authors. It seemed a natural step to bring all that experience to bear in an exciting new venture to introduce you to the best new creative ventures and valuable content out there.
Words always have the power and potential to excite, involve, inspire – and we live them at Urbane Publications. This is a journey of discovery, finding new voices, defining new genres, and most importantly creating the words you want read.
Urbane Publications is a proud member of the Independent Publishers Guild.
Learn more about Urbane Publications on their website here.
The Book I’m Reviewing From Urbane Publications is…
Do you want to live forever? is THE question facing anyone pursuing immortality. But what happens when eternal life is disappointing, and everyone around you keeps dying?
Ben Ferguson-Cripps, a struggling writer with a surname that gets more attention than his creative endeavours, sets aside his literary ambitions to join the mysterious Life Assistance Agency. Their first case is to trace a missing person with links to the Elizabethan angel-caller Dr John Dee.
Pursued by a shadowy organisation – and the ghosts of Ben’s past – the trail leads through Europe into the historic streets of Prague, where the long-buried secrets of Dr Dee’s achievements are finally revealed, and Ben discovers there is far more to life than simply living…
This book is fab! It’s so rich in culture and magic and intrigue and mystery. The contrast between the mundanity of Ben’s life against the strange world of alchemy and scrying and angels works really well in this book.
I felt a lot of sympathy for Ben throughout the story. He is a bit lost after experiencing a failure after a short-lived rise to fame, and then becomes even more completely out of his depth when he joins the Life Assistance Agency as a staff member and finds himself in danger. He isn’t perfect and makes a fair few mistakes, but he’s still likeable throughout. I would have liked to learn a bit more about Scott, Ben’s co-worker, but the rest of the characters in the book (Dr Dee, his accomplices, Mr Foxe and others) are very well developed.
The narrative is broken up throughout with diary entries from Dr Dee’s wife, written back in the 1500s. This keeps the story varied and intriguing, with a good balance between modern day and the past. The book also has plenty of action and dialogue and lots of varying scenes and settings, which helped to keep it moving forwards.
You are kept in the dark quite a lot throughout the story, despite one or two moments of explanation and clarity, but that only adds to the mysteriousness element. Why is Foxe following the steps of a man who lived centuries ago? Why does he want to scry and communicate with angels? What is he trying to achieve by becoming a modern day alchemist?
There are some very interesting twists at the end of the book that I just didn’t see coming (and one that I kind of did, but only right before it happened) and really breathes a new lease of life into the story. Some are subtly done; some are serious and dramatic. The twists are what stayed in my head long after I finished reading.
Overall, I enjoyed this book. It’s quite unique and breaks the mould. I would certainly recommend it if you’re after reading something a bit different from the norm.
All I will say is that the book really is in need of another round of proofreading (this probably won’t bother a lot of readers and a lot of readers would probably be unlikely to notice all the missed mistakes that I did. But I’m a freelance proof reader and in-house editor by trade, so it affected my reading) which is really the only reason I’m giving it three and a half stars. This doesn’t discredit the story itself though: once its issues are tidied up on the next print run, it’s definitely a four-starrer for me.