Taika Town by Drew Montgomery

SPFBO: Taika Town by Drew Montgomery

Series: n/aRating: 5.7/10
Date of Publishing: October 25th 2018Genre: urban fantasy, noir
Publisher: self-publishedAvailable: Amazon
Number of pages: 224Author’s website: Goodreads

Quote of the Book

The knocking comes once more, the rapping on the glass ringing through the space. I step toward it, moving through my office and into the reception area. Through the frosted glass, I can see the light of the hallway, and the shadow, the silhouette of a woman outlined on the other side.

I open the door and stand facing the woman, her heels bringing her to nearly a height with me. I don’t recognize her, neither from a prior meeting or from television. One look makes it clear that she resides in the lap of luxury, the way her dress shines, the way even at this hour her hair is so expertly done as it falls in blonde waves upon her bare shoulders. Sapphire eyes watch me, ruby lips purse together gently, and a lavender perfume fills the air around her. “Mr. Larsen, I presume?” she says. She hands me a coat as she steps past me into the reception area, slowing as she approaches the desk and glances around, holding the small purse in her hands. “You’re a difficult man to track down.”


Taika Town. A place of crime, of poverty, of fear, of power. The kind of place that cops hesitate to go, that politicians use as a campaign rallying cry, where the old ways still live. The kind of place where anything can happen.

It’s election time, and the city has reached a boiling point. Fear of the Taika is at an all time high, driving the central issues of the presidential race. In the midst of the rhetoric, a Taika-friendly candidate fears for his life, a fear even his own security detail fails to consider a serious threat. Private Eye Jack Larsen, however, is not above taking the job, and for a job like this, it helps to have someone who knows the darker side of the city. But as the leads take Jack deeper and deeper into the conspiracy, he finds himself rushing to stop a plot that goes beyond just a simple assassination.

Lose yourself in a captivating fantasy noir thriller, set in a world where magic users are subjected to systematic oppression by a people who fear their powers. A world where those with the most power have the least pull, where everything is creeping closer and closer to a boiling point.


Please keep in mind these are personal thoughts only. This book has already been eliminated from the competition, but at least one of us liked it enough to write a full review. You can follow our progress on our SPFBO page.

Song of the Book

Bet you didn’t know there was Noir inspired Rock? Yeah, me neither…


Jen’s Review – 6.2/10

This is a really quick read

It’s kind of X-men meets Sam Spade in this Noir inspired contemporary fantasy complete with a Hardboiled Gumshoe.

Like any good Noir, this begins with a beautiful dame needing assistance from our beaten down PI aka Jack Larson. In this case, Elmira Riber (Ellie) is the dame that is hiring Jack to look into the rumours surrounding death threats to her boss, presidential Candidate Markus Sorenson.


Jack Larson a somewhat cold and cynical character is definitely not the most likeable guy but there’s just something about him that makes you think there is more to him and you want to root for him even when you’re not sure he deserves it. I’d like to think maybe it’s because he took care of the bad guys pestering his main source of information’s family, and that he’s a caring kind of guy and worth rooting for, but that little incident was more likely that he just didn’t want to lose that source of information…he’s that sort of guy. The self-serving and kind of grouchy type.

Elmira (Ellie) is the smart and beautiful damsel that tags along on the case she hired him for and gets to see a side of Taket town that she probably didn’t know existed until now. We see Ellie through Jack’s eyes, and to him she’s a beautiful dame that doesn’t belong in his world, so outside of that we get flashes of her character when he realizes there might be more to her than just a pretty face.

Taket Town has a definite bleak and despairing undertone to it. First person present tense works well for showing us our jaded detective but it works particularly well at displaying (through Jack’s eyes) how the city had lost all it’s sparkle. I couldn’t help but be reminded of Lehane’s movies (The Town, Mystic River, Gone Baby Gone) because of the exploration into the seedier side of the city and the characters and that political slant to the story is always good for showing us the nasty side of people whose goal it is to be in power.

This is a short story just over 200 pages, without the addendums there wouldn’t be much to it. Plot-wise, it’s pretty straight forward- a seemingly small job turns into a big conspiracy, much like when a magician pulls a handkerchief out of his sleeve that leads to another and another…it’s not overly complicated and if you are at all familiar with noir, you’ll have an idea of the shade of grey things will end in, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to see if you are right.

I thought the political speeches and news broadcasts were a neat way to build the world history/people and catch us up with what was happening within the city. It keeps that up-close and personal noir feel to the story without introducing us to all of the parties. I did feel the speeches were a bit long at times and repetitive in themes (though very keeping with politicians) and I did start skimming them after awhile. I also didn’t realize until about the third speech that it was different candidates’ speeches. That has probably more to do with my inability to keep the names straight until I can get them fixed in my mind with character traits than any else though.

There are several appendices, a character list, and location description in the back. The world is a lot more detailed than it appears during the story and I appreciated these for filling in the details that weren’t there or were glanced over. I did get the idea that this was going to be a part of a series from these; where this world could be built on as the books go, but the book ended with a very non-series feeling so I am not sure if that’s the case. As a standalone- I personally would have preferred to have the story a little more padded with some of the info that intrigued me so much in the appendixes.

I liked the different style and themes to this one and there was enough story to keep me interested until the end. Though this does need some tightening up on the repetitive stuff and a few more passes with the editor to catch those missing, wrong and misspelled words. Also, the formatting on my copy was really wonky but we got a few books in our group that were in pdf and it’s possible this was one and it just didn’t convert to .mobi well.

Other Notes

The noir angle suited the unrest in the city between the Taika and the Rauka.

I did wish the appendix had been in the front of the book. I struggled with some of the terms for the Taika and their particular talents until I found them when I was trying to decide if I wanted to keep on reading. They shed quite a bit of light on the world and were a big decider in my choice to continue.

Nick’s Review – 7.5/10

TAIKA TOWN takes place in a setting reminiscent of Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? and Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon.  This SF Noir setting of Kansmark is the perfect backdrop for the intense political conflict and mystery that takes place within this intriguing and thought-provoking SF story.

The Taika and Rauka live side by side in a tentative state of tolerance these days, but old suspicions and prejudices die hard and the Taika are still viewed as second-class citizens by the majority of non-Taika citizens and also the current government.  You see the Taika possess magical powers that the rest of the populace simply don’t understand.  Things got so bad that a century before a brutal civil-war was fought and the Taika were ultimately bludgeoned into submission.

In the intervening years since that war, the Taika have gained only a slight modicum of freedom and their use of magic has been relegated entirely.  Numerous laws have been put into place that allow the Taika to exist in their own enclaves, but that existence comes with much oppression and prejudice.  In the opeining chapters of the book we see various political parties battling it out in a highly-heated election, some who want the Taika to have equal rights once and for all but also others who wish to see them enslaved as they were before they rose up and fought back over 100 years ago

Complicating matters for those who wish for Taika equality is a rebel faction known as the Livalta. They carry out targeted bombings and strategic attacks on Rauka interests in an effort to force change and bring awareness to the Taika cause.  Some think they are doing more harm than good however as the Rauka political leaders point to these violent attacks as a reason to argue that the Taika should be kept in check and remain “controlled”.

Enter main character and private investigator Jack Larsen who himself is Taika-born.  Jack is hired by the personal assistant to the biggest pro-Taika candidate in the election.  She is convinced that someone in the city with big connections has put a hit out on her boss.  It’s obvious that there are certain people in Kansmak who want to make sure that he never gets to implement his pro-Taika agenda.  What Jack eventually uncovers in his investigation is shocking and could also change the future of the Taika people forever.

I really liked TAIKA TOWN on a number of different levels.  The setting is so well-done and depicts a futuristic city where there is definitely a dividing line between the two classes of people living there.  The Rauka who are the “haves” live in relative prosperity and cleanliness while the Taika who are the “have-nots” live in what could only be termed as squalor and poverty where gangs rule their neighborhoods.

This book has so many echoes of what is happening in our world today in various countries.  You can make definite connections to racial and ethnic injustices occuring in different parts of the world including right here in my own country, the United States.  So there is an underlying message in this story that speaks to prejudice, racism, and the stereotyping of an entire segment of people.  I won’t get overly political or make any personal comments in this regard, but I do want to point out that when you read this book it is simply unavoidable to not think of today’s headlines.

Getting back to the SF part of the book though, this is a really engaging story with a side-mystery that truly makes the book a winner for me.  I thought that the world-building was solid and the political angle really held my interest throughout.  Part of the reason why is that the history behind the main story of the Taika people and their oppression was laid out in the beginning of the book so well.  I became instantly invested in who was going to win the election and how things would shake out afterward.

I was very impressed by this book and although there were moments in the middle where it slowed down considerably, I felt that the conclusion made up for that lull in the action somewhat.  TAIKA TOWN is an enjoyable SF Noir book with a social message.  I did not expect that going in and I’m happy to say that what I came away with in the end was a well-rounded story full of suspense, political intrigue, characters who fight for what they believe in, and pretty darn good writing to boot.  Check out TAIKA TOWN if you haven’t already, it will be well worth your time and effort to do so.

Timy’s Review – 5/10

Going in, I expected to love Taika Town. I love noir and have absolutely no issue with urban fantasy. That my fellow judges liked it was a good sign. But I guess I had too high expectations, because it didn’t work for me. It started promising, I liked the setting, the fact that in this world politics played a prominent role. But then I quickly lost interest as it was too tropey for my likings. Enter Jack, the private detective, and a random beautiful woman who walks in his office asking for his help, tagging along and being anything but useful while likes to think she knows everything. And this is were Taika Town lost me. I rarely like female characters to begin with, so when they go to pissing me off, then no, I’m not interested anymore. That and this books would have needed another pass of editing and better formatting, because the .mobi file was a bit messy. 

Belle’s Review – 4/10

This SF Noir was a change of pace, but not one that worked for me. The world building was interesting and the writing was engaging, but the parallels to real-world experiences were a bit too grim and heavy-handed for my tastes. I like my grimdark to come with some hint that the world can be improved, and I didn’t find that here. That said, if you do like gritty noir mysteries, there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this book.