So, I haven’t read many books in the last month. I don’t know if it’s been a combination of being tired, busy or just wanting something that was a bit light-hearted than some of the novels I’ve read recently. So when searching for a new book to read, I remember commenting on a tweet about wanting to read Phyllis Esposito – Interdimensional Private-Eye by Christiana Ellis.
I mean, this was the description: “When you need someone found, you hire a detective. When that someone is an elf from a parallel dimension, and on the run from killer robots, you hire Phyllis Esposito. Armed with an inquisitive mind and a cybernetic portal generator, Phyllis scours the multiverse, searching for the answers to life’s mysteries.”
It basically sounded delightful and also funny, which is what I was most interested in. And it totally delivered. It’s an absolutely ridiculous novel, with a whole host of improbable things happening every 50 pages, but it was just what I wanted.
Phyllis reminded me of Reggie from The Rewind Files, though if anything more fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pantsness. But delightful, flawed, tough, sarcastic and with a deep sense of fairness and faith in her friends. Sarcastic lead characters win my heart every time.
While some of the frantic pace near the end tipped over into ‘okay scientific speak means they are doing a thing’ a bit like with The Quantum Thief, the concrete core of the story was absolutely fantastic. Phyllis is hired to find someone’s brother, but through magic and technology and lots of nanobots, the case gets A LOT more complicated REALLY quickly.
Basically, there are portals between dimensions AND magic. So for maybe the first third it’s all science fiction, following Phyllis trying to solve the case she’s taken on. However, we then take a swift detour detour into fantasy realm with leather jerkins and a sorceress. It was great. It was so bloody clever and I was with it one hundred percent. Anyway, it’s hard to say much without spoiling and half of the fun are the hilarious 90 degree turns when the plot shifts. I think mileage could vary, depending on how much whimsy/sarcasm you can deal with, but for me it totally worked.
I think at a couple points in time there was a bit too much summary of what had previously happened, but I think that’s a consequence of the way it was written (“an experiment in daily serialized fiction” as Christiana Ellis’ website says.) But that’s pretty forgivable. I think if you just go for the ride without questioning too much how you got there, you’ll enjoy it a lot. Also, even though there was quite a bit of climax, I like how Phyllis doesn’t want to leave anyone behind.
Anyway, it’s bonkers. And delightful. And very silly. And I want to be Phyllis’ friend too. I also really want a portal generator, that seems very handy. And I think it was self-published, so I’m claiming this for Read Harder as well!
Thanks for getting me out of my reading-rut Phyllis Esposito!