If you like: travel guides * supernatural creatures * otherworldly baked goods
The Shambling Guide to New York City is the story of Zoë, a guidebook editor who has returned to New York City in search of a new job and a fresh start. Having applied at nearly every publisher she can think of, Zoë finds herself in an unusual bookstore, where she discovers a flyer for a mysterious publisher. After being assured she isn’t right for the job, Zoë manages to impress her way into the supernatural publishing company and become the first human on staff. As she begins to embrace this new dimensions of the world, she learns that she has been involved with it far longer than she realized.
Zoë is not just looking for a new job due to downsizing. She had previously been involved with her boss, not knowing that he was married. Zoë is unwilling to let this tarnish her career path, and vows to continue to pursue her passion while making smarter romantic choices in the future. Rather than hanging her head in shame, Zoë owns her past and moves on. This is demonstrative of her approach to life. She is tough without being brusque, and is not embarrassed to ask questions or speak her mind. Because of this, Zoë is uniquely suited to join Underground Publishing. Her need for a change of scenery makes working with creatures who could eat her seem palatable, and the multitude of strange situations are almost a pleasant distraction.
The Shambling Guide to New York City embodies the type of world that is easy to fall into. There is no painstaking world building, or cheesy exclamations. The narrative shares Zoë’s personality, and flows in a straightforward and honest manner. The constructs of the secret layers of society are seamless and intriguing. Though Zoë’s past and present meet up before the Guide is through, the story does not take the easy path that Zoë is the chosen one who has been secretly groomed for this world all her life. Lafferty creates the much more approachable protagonist: a no-nonsense woman who wants to make a living doing what she loves. In a genre that can seem repetitive and clichéd, readers will find plenty of fresh ideas and be relieved by the imbuing of tradition into modern society.
If you could swear one of your coworkers is a zombie, read The Shambling Guide to New York City.
Lafferty, Mur. The Shambling Guide to New York City. Orbit, 2013. Kindle Edition.