Mystery in Mactown by K.E. Robinson (The Crescent Moon Chronicles #2)
TITLE: Mystery in Mactown
AUTHOR: K.E. Robinson
PUBLISHER: Atmosphere Press
LENGTH: ?? pages
GENRE: Mystery, Fantasy
Queer Rep Summary: No canon queer rep.
*I received a free review copy in exchange for an honest review of this book.
Julissa is trying to take care of her kids after Renaldo walked out on her due to the revelations about baby Peerless's origins, Renaldo is trying to figure out where the heck he is, and Rita is trying to figure out where he went.
The tone is serious enough to give importance to the societal traumas underlying the status quo, but the fast pace and frequent sense of jocularity keeps it feeling lighter. It’s quippy as is fitting for a superhero story, and it works pretty seamlessly on that front.
Julissa has a much bigger role this time around and it’s a welcome change since I like her much better than Renaldo. The balance between their scenes is pretty even for much of the book and it works very well. There are some other perspectives as well, to follow the four main storylines.
character relationships - There’s a very complicated web of relationships between many of the characters, but the most important relationships to track are centered around Julissa and Renaldo.
worldbuilding - The worldbuilding in terms of place uses a lot of specific locations without describing them much. It gives it a very local feel, since it would be a bit odd for the characters to stop and explain their hometown and the surrounding area. It’s a style of worldbuilding I usually like, one which assumes the reader will be able to settle in and keep up.
The way the narrative bounces around was a little confusing, and the brief sex scene has some descriptions which are more puzzling than erotic. It’s the kind of story where I had a great time reading it but for much of the I have no idea what happened to anyone but Julissa and her kids.
As much as I was a bit lost on the actual court case, it was doing a lot of heavy lifting (especially in combination with Rita's perspective) in terms of the ideas of justice within the legal system. I just wish it seemed more affected by the existence of vigilantes which was established in CRESCENT MOONS but is barely an afterthought here.
It wraps up one thing left hanging (the court case for a shooting from the first book). There’s a new storyline involving Renaldo’s disappearance, and a big thing was introduced and resolved by the end. I can’t think of anything that it specifically leaves to be picked up later, except for something teased in the epilogue that’s mysterious enough to be interesting, but didn’t give me much of a sense of what another sequel would pick up. There are both returning and new perspectives, though I’m not sure how similar any of the returning narrators are to their previous characterization. They are distinct from each other in terms of individual dialogue, but kind of blend together in terms of unvoiced descriptions.
It wouldn’t make sense to start here. There’s a lot of context from the first book which is sporadically and disjointedly explained in this one, it works as a reminder but not as an explanation for someone who didn’t read the first book at all. That's understandable since it is book two and it's better to go back for the first book. There are four major plotlines: Julissa’s life without Renaldo (who left at the end of the first book and now is missing), Renaldo with his captors, Rita and the other officers, and a court trial. The first three plotlines all made sense to me and I was able to follow them well, but the court trial fit in oddly (possibly because I read the first book a while ago). Much of the time they felt like four separate but intertwined stories, though the very end brought together two of the storylines in a very exciting finale.
Overall this is an intriguing but slightly uneven sequel with evocative characters and a unique style. If you enjoyed CRESCENT MOONS, then don't miss MYSTERY IN MACTOWN.
CW for sexual content (explicit), grief, ableism (brief), fatphobia (brief), sexism, misogyny, alcohol, cursing (graphic), kidnapping (graphic), confinement, forced institutionalization, pregnancy (backstory), medical content, vomit (graphic), blood (graphic), violence (graphic), gun violence (graphic), police brutality, torture (graphic), murder (graphic), death (graphic).