31 October 2017

Odd Reality: Malmö's Supernatural Underbelly (Book Review)

First, an announcement. Our special Silent Fear Halloween giveaway is now over, and we have picked our winners. Well, Rafflecopter's picked our winners. Your names will remain anonymous, of course, but we will be contacting you very soon (like, right after I finish writing this post). 

It's Halloween, and instead of trying on my new costume for the upcoming Halloween party, I'm drinking cough medicine, and chewing on breath mints like they were... well, breath mints. 

Being sick sucks, especially when you had your whole week planned out down to the littlest detail. 
But since there is nothing I can do about my physical state right now, I might as well make the best of my predicament and finish the second half of the latest book review double feature.

Last week, I reviewed Udda Verklighet, literary debut of author Nene Ormes. It's an urban dark fantasy with elements of horror and romance. Since the book is written  isSwedish, I decided to write two reviews - one in Swedish, and one in English. 

 You can read the Swedish review right here.  

So here we go. 

Title: Udda Verklighet (De Sära, #1)
Author: Nene Ormes
Date of publishing: May 27th, 2010.
Published by: Styxx

Our heroince is Udda (a cute play on words, since "udda" is also Swedish for "odd", or "different"). Udda is a mousy, angsty young womam, who lives in Malmö (a.k.a the third largest city in Sweden, which also happens to be my hometown). 

Udda has been plagued by nightmares for as long as she can remember. Daniel is the boy-next-door/best friend/potential love interest in whom Udda confines her problems. 

One night, Udda has the most vivid dream about a woman in peril, and after some investigating she and Daniel realise that the woman in her dream was real, which means that Udda's dreams are someone else's reality. When Daniel tries to look for the mysterious woman, and inevitably gets himself in trouble, Udda will risk her own safety to try and rescue him.  

In her desperate search, Udda discovers a whole new world - a rich and dangerous reality that exists right in the heart of Malmö. This supernatural underbelly of Malmö is inhabited by people with magical powers, who call themselves "de sära" ("the others", "the special ones", or whichever you prefer). They live by their own code and for the most part they manage to go undetected by the common folk.

Udda also meets a smoking hot shapeshifter who calls himself Hemming. And although he has reluctantly agreed to help her, Hemming has his own agenda, and we're not entirely sure if Udda should be trusting him. But, there's plenty of sexual tension to go around, and I'm expecting a love triangle later in the series. 

This is quite a fantasy world that the author has created, and I like to play with the idea that there may be shapeshifters, and vampires walking around in my hometown (kind of like a Swedish Hellmouth). That being said, this world does feel a little "half-baked", and underdeveloped. They're plenty of storybuilding clichés, and tropes that tend to haunt the urban fantasy genré, that I think the story would have been better off without. Still, this world does have potential, and I hope that his potential will be realised in the second book in this series. 

What I do miss the most in this book is Malmö. Malmö is big and diverse city. It's interesting and complex, both when it comes to its demographic, and location, and I wanted to see more of Malmö in this story. I wanted this city to be a character in its own right, or at least a fun and dangerous playground for our characters. Unfortunately, the full potential of my fair city is not realised in this book. This story isn't unique to Malmö, and could have taken place anywhere else in the country. Anywhere else in Europe, really. 

The story itself feels kind of rushed, and unfocused, and I think that some of it has to do with Udda being the "audience character", so we spend a lot of time having Hemming explain stuff to her. 

Which brings me to our heroine. Udda is our typical "wish out of water" character. She gets tossed into this dangerous and mysterious world, helpless, and clueless. What she lacks in physical strength and knowledge she makes up for in sheer determination and fearlessness. She's the type of heroine that doesn't know her own strength until it has been put to test. It's fun watching Udda go from the angsty girl who's scared of her own shadow to a woman who isn't afraid to challenge ancient oracles, and other supernatural folk in order to save her friend. 

All in all, Udda Verklighet is a pretty solid debut. It's fun, and exciting, and this series has a lot of potential. Udda is by far the best part of this world.  

My rating

Plot: 3 stars 
Story: 3 stars
Characters: 4 stars
Language: 3 stars     

Average: 3 stars 

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