Review: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older (Bone Street Rhumba #1)


Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older // VBC ReviewHalf-Resurrection Blues (Bone Street Rhumba #1)
Daniel Jose Older
Published: Jan. 6, 2015 (Roc)
Purchase: Book Depository or Amazon
Review source: purchased

Reviewed by: Margaret

Rating (out of 5): 4 stars

Carlos Delacruz is an “inbetweener.”Killed and resurrected by a necromancer, he’s no longer fully alive or fully dead. He has no memory of his death or his previous life. Not even his real name or his nationality, though he thinks he’s probably Puerto Rican. He works as a sort of fixer for the New York Council of the Dead, handling the cases that involve the living. (He’s their only corporeal agent.)

Carlos thinks he’s the only inbetweener in existence, until a new case brings another to his attention. Unfortunately, this new inbetweener is trying to open a portal to the underworld and Carlos has been assigned to stop him. Meanwhile, someone has summoned a group of imp-like creatures called ngks, which can incapacitate the dead and seem to be targeting one of Carlos’ friends. That investigation leads not only to more people like Carlos, but also some answers about his past.

The world of Half-Resurrection Blues is not quite like anything I’ve ever read before. The dead have their own society, their own government and their own police force completely unnoticed by most of the living. The other creatures, especially the ngks, are not just unique, but both horrific and hilarious.

But within that unique setting, Carlos is extremely relatable. He’s lonely, living among the living but not quite fitting in. He’s noticeably different with his grayish skin and sluggish heartbeat. He works with the dead and has friends among the ghosts, but is ostracized and patronized by his employers because he’s physically different from them as well. He’s sometimes melancholy, but also sarcastic and funny and very much a guy. I really felt for him, especially after a certain plot twist at the end of the book.

Carlos’s narration reflects his background and his New York, not the shiny Manhattan you often read about, but ethnic neighborhoods in Brooklyn with jazz clubs and bodegas. I loved the supporting cast and the variety of characters that he encounters just walking down the street.

Older’s style is poetic and lyrical. I saw a clip of the author reading with musical accompaniment and that suits the story quite well. I could sometimes hear the music in my head as I was reading. But as much as I appreciate the beauty of the language, I had a hard time getting into this book. I think this is my fault, rather than the author’s though. I usually read with the TV on and a toddler singing at the top of her lungs a few feet away. I had to eliminate all of those distractions in order to “hear” the words and focus on the story. I’m not an audiobook person, mostly because of all that background noise I usually have, but I think this would probably be a great audiobook.

Despite my difficulties, I really liked Carlos and his world. I want to read Salsa Nocturna, Older’s collection of short stories set in this world. I think the shorter length will make easier for me to focus and really appreciate the words. But if youre looking for something fresh in urban fantasy or a new twist on the ghost story, you should definitely check out Half-Resurrection Blues.

Sexual content: sex

3 Responses to “Review: Half-Resurrection Blues by Daniel Jose Older (Bone Street Rhumba #1)”

  1. I tried a sample of the audiobook. I was curious since the author narrates it. If I try this one I will read it instead. LOL Half-Resurrection Blues is going on my maybe TBR.

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