Timy reviews The Wise Men of Gotham, the second book in Craig Schaefer‘s Urban Fantasy trilogy, The Midnight Scoop. It’s also part of the Sisterhood of New Amsterdam universe.
Reviews of previous books in the series: The Hungry Dreaming
A review copy was received from the author in exchange for an honest review.
|Series:||The Midnight Scoop #2|
|Date of Publishing:||May 28, 2023|
|Trigger Warnings:||death, violence, torture|
Possible The Sound of Madness Reading Challenge prompts:
- Free Your Mind
- I’m Still Here
- Middle Fingers
- Family Portrait
- Vészhelyzet (Emergency)
- I’ll Be There
- Daughters of Darkness
When a daughter of Hekate is gunned down outside a Brooklyn bodega, reprisal comes by moonlight: one by one, the victims of a spreading curse fall into a deep sleep, lost in inescapable visions. And their numbers are growing.
Seelie Rose knows a thing or two about visions. As a fledgling witch and the inheritor of a magical legacy, it’s her duty to watch over the dreamscape of New York City. Usually that means battling errant nightmares; now she’s facing down alien intelligences, incursions from other realms, and the dawning suspicion that she isn’t the only dream-witch in town.
Meanwhile, creatures of the night are turning up dead, and the ghoul princess lurking in Seelie’s closet wants a favor. Not the kind she can refuse, unless she wants to be next on the princess’s macabre menu. If Seelie plays her cards just right, she may uncover a conspiracy, stop a deadly plot, and survive…at least until graduation.
“Oi! Lassie!” shouted a voice to her left. Seelie had a moment of dissonance. Do you mean lassie like a girl or Lassie like the dog, because I’m not sure how to–
I’m happy with past Timy who picked a Shinedown song for The Hungry Dreaming, which allowed me to go and have a good selection of songs for The Wise Men of Gotham. I decided on I’ll Follow You which I think fits well for the book.
If I’m being 100% honest, I didn’t think I needed a sequel to The Hungry Dreaming, but one day it dropped into my inbox, and boy am I glad of it. Then again, I’m always happy when a new Schaefer book appears in the wild, so there is that. Not that it helps me catch up with the Faust series, but what can you do? Anyway, I was also happy to learn that there will be a third book, giving a whole trilogy to Nell, Tyler, and Seelie, and after finishing The Wise Men of Gotham, I can say I’m excited to see where Schaefer is taking these characters.
We are a few months after the events of The Hungry Dreaming, and Nell, Tyler, and Seelie getting into the rythym of their new lives. Tyler returns to his old passion of drawing; Seelie tries to figure out how to be a witch while also getting ready to graduate high school and trying to make friends; and Nell chases the next big story even though things changed at the newspaper and they are forced to do puff pieces. But when that ever stopped her from doing whatever she wanted?
The idyll doesn’t hold too long. The ghoul princess is knocking on Seelie’s door to collect one of the favors owned. Something or someone attacks ghouls and bleeds them out, Dergwyn wants to know who or why and she wants Seelie to give her those answers. On top of it, a mysterious illness is spreading in New York – people fall asleep wherever they are and never wake up. Seelie and the Sisterhood suspect magic to be behind it, but they don’t know how and why. Seelie being the only dream witch, feels responsible and wants to help. In the meantime, Nell and Tyler investigate the murder of a cop called Mathers who was also one of the witches and helped them previously. What they unearth is corruption within the police, a money laundering scheme that involves Seelie’s estranged father, and more.
You might think that there are too many things going on, how on earth does this make a coherent story? If it was anyone else’s book you might be right, but we are talking about a Craig Schaefer book here, and she positively thrives writing stories with multiple layers. You might not see how everything comes together, but you can trust that they will. And that makes The Wise Men of Gotham so damn much fun to read.
“The southwestern wing of the Metropolitan Museum of Art was a gallery of graven faces and ancient poses, as if Medusa had strutted through a party in the heyday of old Greece and thrown the whole petrified assembly thousands of years across time.”
It was easy to fall back into this world, and these characters. I have a soft spot for found families, and I loved reading Nell, Tyler, and Seelie’s interactions, and their genuine love for each other. The contrast is especially sharp when we see Seelie and her father interacting with each other. I loved that section because that showed us how far Seelie had come, and how much her confidence grew in herself. That definitely was a key point in her character arc and was a strong statement. Her father doesn’t have power over her anymore, and that’s probably the moment when she lets go of her past once and for all. And this is also the moment where her father gives up on the son he never had.
I also enjoyed the parts where Nell and Tyler went investigating, but then I love a good investigation story, so there are no surprises there. I kind of wished there was a bit more to this side of the book, but knowing there is another one coming, I’m not too upset. It felt like that compared to The Hungry Dreaming, Seelie got the focus, and Nell and Tyler were kind of sidelined in the grand scheme of things. Which is not much of a problem, it still felt balanced, but on the other hand, I’d have liked more interaction between Seelie and the Sisterhood. We see her coming into her powers, to learn things, and her friendship with Max, but the others felt a bit absent. But I’m just totally nitpicking here.
The Wise Men of Gotham was an excellent follow-up, and I think I can say that I enjoyed it more than I did The Hungry Dreaming. Probably because the characters and the world are already established, so we can focus more on other things. It took me a bit longer to read it than I expected, but that was due to life than anything else. Once I got to actually focus on it, I breezed right through it. As with other Craig Schaefer books, The Wise Men of Gotham is an absolute page-turner. It has an intriguing mix of magic, action, noir, and occult elements that few can pull out the way Schaefer does. If you are a fan of her or enjoyed The Hungry Dreaming, then you shouldn’t miss out on this one either.
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