An exiled augur who sold her soul to save her brother’s life is offered one last job before serving an eternity in hell. When she turns it down, her client sweetens the pot by offering up the one payment she can’t resist―the chance to have a future where she grows old with the woman she loves.
To succeed, she is given three days to track down the White City Vampire, Chicago’s most notorious serial killer. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
Chicago is being haunted by a serial killer dubbed the ‘White City Vampire.’ When Helen, an exiled augur, visits their latest crime scene she sees something others have missed and quickly becomes drawn into the task of tracking the killer down. The more she delves, the darker the secrets turn out to be, but Helen is determined to catch them, not only to save their future victims, but to save her own soul. If she fails, only hell and heartbreak await.
Helen is a great POV to read this story from. She has spent her life knowing the day she will die, thanks to selling her soul ten years ago to save her brothers life, something she never once regrets. That is until she meets Edith. Edith who brightens her life, makes her want to live and gives her hope. Helen reads as a kind of John Constantine turned gangster. She’s the chain smoking, suave, not afraid of a fight or getting her hands dirty style character and she certainly knows how to get herself into some dangerous situations. But the more time we spend with her, the more we see her soft underbelly, her love for those around her, her hope and want to survive despite the circumstances, but also her desperate need to protect the people she loves, no matter the cost.
Polk’s version of 1950’s Chicago is somewhat different from the one we know, thanks in large to it being inhabited by a multitude of magical beings. From Devils, to fallen Angels and the Brotherhood of the Compass, a magical human police force. Polk does a brilliant job of building her world with such a small word count, and as much as I wanted to spend more time there devouring all the information that I could, I felt she gave us the perfect amount to get us through this story without any confusion. Her story has that dark, noir crime feel with gangsters and dolls, crime syndicates and a city filled with murder and magic. But Polk also brings a sapphic element to the story and uses that to shed light on what women went through in that time, think insane asylums and the like, as well as showing how women were seen as second class, especially seeing as the Brotherhood would only take female apprentices if they had a male family member already in the force, no matter how much potential they showed.
The story was suspenseful, slightly predictable in parts, but still overwhelmingly entertaining. For such a small page count it certainly packs a punch and deals with some heavy themes such as feminism, religion, murder, as well as mentions of electro shock therapy for dealing with committed women, but despite all that, it was a fun read, hilariously funny in parts and I seriously hope we get to spend some more time in this world, be it following Helen & Edith, or some other characters… I’m just saying, I would love a Marlow focused Novella of some kind. If you like the idea of a gender bent gangster John Constantine and a story filled with adventure then you should definitely check this out.