Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Review – “Street Magic” by Caitlin Kittredge

Her name is Pete Caldecott. She was just sixteen when she met Jack Winter, a gorgeous, larger-than-life mage who thrilled her with his witchcraft. Then a spirit Jack summoned killed him before Pete’s eyes—or so she thought. Now a detective, Pete is investigating the case of a young girl kidnapped from the streets of London. A tipster’s chilling prediction has led police directly to the child…but when Pete meets the informant; she’s shocked to learn he is none other than Jack.

Strung out on heroin, Jack is a shadow of his former self. But he’s able to tell Pete exactly where Bridget’s kidnappers are hiding: in the supernatural shadow-world of the fey. Even though she’s spent years disavowing the supernatural, Pete follows Jack into the invisible fey underworld, where she hopes to discover the truth about what happened to Bridget—and what happened to Jack on that dark day so long ago…
Back in late January, Caitlin Kittredge was offering advanced electronic galley’s to reviewers of Street Magic, a new dark urban fantasy, the first in the Dark London series. I jumped at the chance. It took me a little longer to finish reading on the workstation (no ebook reader here) but I am glad I did. Street Magic is dark, atmospheric, gothic, gritty and one hell of a supernatural detective thriller.
Roddy gave a scream like Death itself had just wrapped a hand around his heart and yanked it free, and the spell collapsed in on him, enraged and starving and consuming.
On the surface Street Magic is murder mystery but quickly becomes so much more. DI Pete Caldecott works for the MET and she is assigned to a child kidnapping case which quickly blossoms into a series of abductions all resulting in blinded and psychologically damaged victims. As the blurb above states, Pete is re-united with Jack, a former lover who has stepped forward with information about the case. She had thought him dead after a supernatural encounter together years before which Pete has been suppressing for years.

As Jack assists Pete with the case, she begins to comprehend that the perpetrator is not human and non-traditional police methods will be needed to apprehend the culprit. Pete is plunged into the seedy underbelly of London, rife with fey magic and populated by creatures of legend. Jack reveals the scope of his mage abilities and Pete gets a harsh education in the perils of magic. Other inimical forces are aligned with the kidnapper. Jack and Pete withstand attacks by the Arkanum (dark sorcerers), banshees and golems.
She tore off the bottom of her t-shirt and wrapped it tightly around the golem bite. It wasn’t bleeding enough to have nicked a vein, but it hurt and there was a film of greenish spittle on the wound. “I’d bloody well better not start craving brains,” Pete said, trying the door that led away from the upstairs of the house.
Pete is a hard-as-nails detective with no qualms about wading into a brawl or getting physical with suspects. And she has no problem working outside the system as she spends the majority of the story working apart from the MET and her regular DI partner chasing leads with Jack. It is this adaptability and her unusual experiences as a teenager that all allow her to accept her new awareness of things that go bump in the night. Pete also has unresolved issues with Jack and throughout the story there is a palpable sexual tension between them. Their relationship is complex. Jack is a junkie and Pete needs him sober and in control of his magic, but comes to understand his reasons for his addiction.

Both are fascinating characters with an unusual, almost adversarial dynamic leading to plenty of snappy and sly dialogue.
“What’s gotten into you?” Pete muttered as she followed Jack through the musty rows of dirty books and bins of toys. “Is your sight channeling Guy Ritchie?”
And this -
“Grinchley will never give it over willingly,” said Jack. “And you’d be mad to fuck with a collector of dark magics. So that leaves outright treachery and low dealings.”
“You look awfully happy about that,” said Pete.
Jack smiled, dropping her a wink. “As if I’d be anything else, luv.”
“Still haven’t told me the great trick to get the Focus away from this Grinchley person.” Pete lifted an eyebrow, her motherly gesture, used on teenaged shoplifters and errant schoolchildren. Jack scribed a circle in the air with his finger.
“We’ll just twist him, luv. Give him a bit of street magic and shift the thing right out from under him. A minor entity of some sort should do the trick.”
Street Magic has the satisfying pull of an intense detective thriller injected with a powerful dose of the supernatural and macabre. Imagine if you will an urban fantasy novel that might have been written by Stephen King, if only he were to write urban fantasy. Dark London is shaping up to be a place I will look forward to visiting again and again. Street Magic will be available in June. Mark your calendars. A sequel, Conjure Man is due out before the end of the year.

If you would like a little taste of Pete and Jack before Street Magic’s release, you can find them in the short story ‘Newlydeads’ which appears in the My Big Fat Supernatural Honeymoon (2007) anthology.

AUTHOR AND BOOK SHOWCASEOfficial Caitlin Kittredge Website

St. Martin's Press
Published Date: June 02, 2009
ISBN #: 9780312943615
Format: Electronic Galley/Paperback
Pages: 352

Recent interview at Un:Bound.

Black London Series:

  1. Street Magic (June 2, 2009)
  2. Conjure Man (Dec 2009)

Nocturne City Series:

  1. Night Life (2008)
  2. Pure Blood (2008)
  3. Second Skin (2009)
  4. Witch Craft (Sept. 1, 2009)
  5. Spellbound (Mar 2010)


  1. Sounds like a very intriguing read. I was lucky to have met Caitlin at NYC Comic Con a few months ago. Look forward to reading this one.

  2. Hey KB Comicon sounded so great. I was jealous. And what a great turn out from the UF writing community. I think Pete and Jack are going to be VERY popular when this comes out.

  3. I really enjoyed this one too. I found the writing to be so beautiful, with a rather elegant rhythm. It was a great element juxtaposed against all the darkness and violence.

    Other than that, I flagged pages just for Jack's potty mouth. Got some new ideas, that's for sure! *g* Your review reminds me it's past time for me to have written mine.

  4. I loved this one so much, I was glued to my laptop. I can't bring myself to even consider shelling out for an ereader.
    I haven't met Caitlin, but she was kind enough to be interviewed.

  5. Hey Kmont looking forward to your review too. Yea I just love her writing in this. Sort of Lovecraftian in some ways.

    Hagelrat I did the same thing - sat at the old workstation but it was worth. Glad you did the interview which was I was happy to be able to link to.

  6. I know I'm late but I just found your review. I've been looking forward to this book, even more so now that I've read your thoughts on it. Thanks for the review.

  7. Never to late Brie. Looking forward to Demon Bound the next book in the series too.


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