Cover: Spring London
Publisher: Angry Robot Books
Publishing date: 3 March 2011*
On the cover:
It’s a kind of magic...When two college students decide to spend Spring Break using their magic to fleece the casinos of Las Vegas, little do they imagine that the city harbours some magical secrets of its own... And of course what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas – alive or dead.
As you perhaps can see from the cover image, this book has been called "Ocean's Eleven meets Harry Potter". I don't disagree much with that assessment, and it is certainly a good description of the basics of the story for anyone not well versed in the genre.
But I would rather describe it as Neil Gaiman's Books of Magic meets Las Vegas meets [good] Hollywood Action-Thriller.
At first this seems to be a pretty standard story of two friends going to break the bank in Vegas, with the only added ingredient being the use of real magic. But it doesn't take long before you realize this novel is much more than that.
Forbeck quickly pulls you into the story, I was hooked by the end of the first chapter. It doesn't take long before you realize there is quite a complex back story here, and it is one that is revealed over the course of the novel. Something that works very well. You always feel that there is more to be revealed, and that makes this a book that is hard to put down once you have started it.
It is a fast-paced story, there is lots of action and that is why I used Hollywood action-thriller as a description at the beginning of this review. But it doesn't feel like the action is placed there just to "up the ante", it is an integral part of the whole.
Another strength of this novel is that Forbeck is very good at adding that little magical twist to our world that signifies good Urban Fantasy. Everything is slightly different from the reality we know, but never so much that it becomes too implausible. A couple of the revelations were of the kind that made perfect sense, and I actually wouldn't be too surprised if it really was the way Forbeck tells it in this book.
The characters in this book are interesting, especially the main character. And even those that same pretty typical have something fresh about them. I enjoyed following Jackson and Bill's journey through this version of Vegas, and I wouldn't mind following them to other places in the future.
Overall this is a fresh and suspenseful Urban Fantasy novel. It is great entertainment, and if you have a taste for fantasy in a contemporary setting this is definitely worth checking out.
This will also make a great read for anyone interested in stage-magic, Las Vegas, and casino card games.
NOTE: An ARC of this book was supplied to me by the publisher.
*Release date 3 March 2011 is for UK and electronic editions. (Although it should be up on the UK Kindle store now.) Release in USA and Canada is 29 March 2011.
LINKS: Matt Forbeck Angry Robot Books