Blitz by Daniel O’Malley
A sprawling fantasy with astonishingly creative imaginings will delight fans of the genre. It is the third of a series but will stand alone admirably. Mutants of bizarre varieties, personal peril and heroism make this a real page-turner.
If you’re a fantasy fan and have a fully developed sense of the willing suspension of disbelief, this should be right up your alley. We are accultured to the idea of mutants from the X-Men movies and other sci-fi/fantasy storylines, but this takes the notion a step further. The individuals displaying their paranormal qualities here are far more fantastic than I have seen anywhere. Abilities ranging from being able to disassociate from one’s skin and send it elsewhere to perform tasks including battle, causing anyone within range to think that you are their mother, controlling gravity to the extent that you can fly or compress a person into a ball the size of a pea, being able to coat anything you choose, merely by touch with a hard pearlescent crust; all of these make the character who can simply make himself invisible seem pedestrian. The author is a genius in imagining bizarre mutant talents. It’s impressive just to see what he can come up with.
There are two strong story lines here, one set in the Blitz in London during WWII and the other in current times. There are connections but they are deftly concealed until the very last with a satisfying reveal. The skillful interweaving of the plot lines is evidence of a craftsman at work. The narrative gallops with few pauses, keeping the reader engaged and looking for more, one of the features that makes a novel attractive to this reader. The truly astonishing creativity in imagining the mutations that exist among the characters is also an impressive feat. The book is the third in a series, but it stands alone admirably and feels complete without making overt references to the previous entries in the cycle. It reads comfortably without knowing anything about the first two.
This is pretty much straight up fantasy and will unlikely find many readers outside the genre, but for the legion of lovers of the form, it will be entirely satisfying. It is so well constructed that few, in any, will be able to find fault with it. I recommend it to those who enjoy the bizarre and fantastic.