Barking, Tom Holt (Orbit, 2007)

Cover of "Barking"

Cover of Barking

Grade: Ω — An excellent book that breaks rules and/or may appeal more to people who do not normally read the genre than those who are aficionados of it. . 

In brief:

Barking is a comic urban fantasy that kept me laughing throughout. For those of you who have never heard of Tom Holt, he is to Urban Fantasy as Terry Pratchett is to High Fantasy. He is a master of weaving subtle jokes and the absurd into good plots and this book is no exception. Mind you, you’ve got to enjoy a British sense of humor, but if you do, I’d highly recommend this book. 


London, Modern Day

In Depth:

Right, let’s get it straight right from the get-go.  This is more of a comedy than an urban fantasy.  It’s laughing run through the nighttime streets of London involving vampires, werewolves and lawyers.  To say more might give away the plot (which the spoiler on the backleaf does anyways… why do marketing people do that?), but effectively, its fun and funny and not something to be too closely analyzed. 

That’s not to say that it isn’t clever.   It is extremely clever, and has its own plot twists. It also has some plot holes, but fewer than many straight fiction tales.  On the whole, however, Holt creates a comic urban fantasy that hangs together and allows one to sustain one’s disbelief throughout.  It is a piss-take on modern British life[1] that makes great commentary on many of the idiosyncrasies and foibles there in. 

Beyond that, there isn’t much to say. To do too much of an analysis of humorous tales often just spoils the humor.  Oh, it could stand up to such an analysis, but not without ruining the tale, and since this is a review and not an academic report, some things are just better left unsaid. To that end, don’t read the back cover… in a few words it takes away the mystery and humor of some (but by no means all) of the book.  Beyond that, read this book if you want a good giggle.  To that end, if you really love Urban Fantasy and can’t stand to see the humor in you’re genre, then this will probably irritate you.  But then again, if you can’t enjoy the humor in something, you are probably too far up your own arg-humm, so read it anyways. 

[1] A quick side note to those of you who think England is tea and crumpets: you’re about thirty-five years out of date.  It amazes me how often I come across people (even many of the British) whose concept of England is trapped somewhere between Dickens, the Blitz and Monty Python.  The ultra polite Englishman is a thing of the past, and this book does a great job of capturing modern British life, albeit one with more undead than is normal.

About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Comedy, Mystery, Stand Alone Novel, Unique or Imaginative World, Urban Fantasy, Urban Fantasy and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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