Published by Angry Robot on January 28th, 2014
Genres: Urban Fantasy
Sexual Content: N/A
Reviewed by: Megan
Ted Hall is worried. He’s been sleepwalking, and his somnambulant travels appear to coincide with murders by the notorious Hang Wire Killer.
Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously, the manager of the Olde Worlde Funfair has started talking to his vintage machines, and the new acrobat’s frequent absences are causing tension among the performers.
Out in the city there are other new arrivals – immortals searching for an ancient power – a primal evil which, if unopposed, could destroy the world!
If Tim Powers wrote THE NIGHT CIRCUS, the resulting novel would probably look a lot like Adam Christopher’s HANG WIRE. A number of seemingly random ideas - including an exploding fortune cookie, a serial killer, and a semi-retired Hawaiian god - form together to create a mystery, tangled in history, surrounded by evil. Some emotional depth is sacrificed for the density of the plot, but each of the characters is fully-formed and multi-layered, and make for an engrossing read.
It’s not easy to balance a story with so many characters whose histories stretch back centuries, but as is fitting a book featuring an acrobat, Christopher does it with grace; though I’m not sure the switch to present tense during Highwire the acrobat’s scenes accomplishes its purpose, since it created a discordant note for me up until the reveal at the end. What I really enjoyed was the differences in all the characters influenced by the supernatural. No two are the same, even those who work as allies. There are a few gods, all in different forms, an alien presence, and something that seems alien, but was actually here before us.
Christopher also uses the backdrop of San Francisco well, and integrates the 1906 earthquake, not as a way of emphasizing a character’s great age, but as foreshadowing for events to come. I love it when writers work around established historical events and suggest that something paranormal may have been the root cause of it.
One of the unique elements that I came to enjoy as it unfolded was the story within the story, a character’s backstory that’s strewn throughout the novel which reveals the blood-soaked past of the carnival at the center of HANG WIRE. The narrative isn’t straight-forward – Christopher doesn’t lay it all out at the beginning, and it takes a few chapters to get a grip on all the moving parts, but ultimately I liked having to work for my entertainment.Series Titles: